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Saturday, March 12, 2011

5 Steps to Avoiding "Spousal Sabotage" of the Sales Process

Have you ever had a customer 100% happy with everything the two of you selected… only to then have the spouse come in and hate everything. Then, it’s back to square one. That is, if the spouse will even agree to continue working with you. This is what’s commonly referred to in selling as “Spousal Sabotage.”

And it actually is human nature to do this. People naturally resist decisions they were not a part of making. Even if they say they don’t want to be involved, when it comes down to it, they usually have an opinion or want to feel like they’re needs have been considered.

If your customer is shopping alone, avoid potential "Spousal Sabotage" by following these 5 easy steps.

1) Collect info on the needs of all decision-makers

First, find out if there are other decision-makers involved in the process, maybe a spouse, girlfriend, trusted “designer” friend, Mom, etc. That way, you can be better prepared for how to handle the situation.

Start out with a simple, non-threatening question such as:
"Who will be using this room besides you?"
This will usually tell you if the person is married, single, or living with a significant other, without specifically asking about their living situation.

Then, you can also ask,"Who will be the primary user of each piece?" e.g. - Does the husband use the chair more while the wife uses the sofa? If this is the case, not each piece of furniture has to fit the comfort needs of both people perfectly. Sometimes, this is impossible to do anyway, especially if the wife is 5’ 2” and the husband is 6’2”.

Next, when your customer is trying out furniture options, make sure to ask how she thinks the spouse will like the pieces.
“You mentioned your husband needs a lot of support for his back, do you think this chair will provide that for him?”
“Do you think it sits deep enough for his height?”

Finally, when your customer brings in her spouse, meet them near the door and take control of the product presentation process.

2) Give him a quick recap of the info she gave you on their first meeting.

e.g. “Janet said that getting a new chair and sofa are the priorities for your room. She said that you primarily use the chair and she uses the sofa. Your chair has to be big enough to fit your 6’2” frame and give you good back support. Would you agree with that?" (hopefully you collect a “yes” to this question.)

3) Next, show styles and verify comfort level before showing any fabrics. This will keep the process more focused.

“So, before we look at any fabrics, I just want to concentrate on making sure the pieces we selected are comfortable for you, especially the chair since you’ll be using that more often. I’m going to take you over to a chair style that is deep seated with a high back and a lumbar cushion for back support. We really like the look of the chair for your room so I’m hoping the comfort level will work for you. Don’t pay attention to the leather that is on the chair. It can be customized from hundreds of fabric & leather options.”

Notice how this example dialog conveys how important his comfort is to this process. He’s more likely to go along with the chair choice knowing that his needs were considered.

If the sofa choice isn’t a perfect comfort fit for him, remind him that the comfort level of this piece is suited more for his wife, who has a petite stature, and guests, who will likely not be “lounging” on the furniture.

4) Finally, before showing any fabric or leather options, review the info that the wife gave you about the room. This way, he has a better understanding of why these particular fabrics and/or leathers were chosen. He’s more likely to go along with it if he first understands the “why” behind the design decisions.

e.g. “Janet told me that the room currently has a very rustic, country feel. Although you both like that style, she’s looking to update it with a slightly more sophisticated look, since this is the main room that you entertain in when you have guests over. So, a more “Sophisticated Lodge-Look” is what we were going with.

"To create this look and feeling, we really wanted to incorporate a beautiful, top-grain leather into the room. But Janet said that you wanted a soft, comfortable fabric for your recliner. So we opted to put the sofa in this oil & waxed, dark-chocolate leather. It is super soft to the touch and will conform to the user’s body temperature in just seconds…"

"For your recliner, we selected this textured chenille fabric in a shade of mocha. It will be super soft to lounge in. Plus, the color will be forgiving to heavy use. We’ll also fabric protect it, since Janet said this is usually where you eat your snacks…"

5) Make sure to ask for his input throughout the process. That way, you’re less likely to get the objections at the end, when you’re asking for a buying commitment.

e.g. “How do you feel about this fabric choice?”

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