Some showrooms have turned toward online, un-guided, virtual showroom tours. I think this is an easy proposed solution, but not a luxury answer. They can often be difficult to navigate on a desktop or tablet. It reminds me of jumping to warp speed in the Starship Enterprise when you move from room to room. Then, if you find the right room, viewing specific products is difficult. Today, there is a better solution.
Before the pandemic, Design Within Reach had added an in-showroom video option to its online chat tool. While a showroom sales associate is digitally chatting with a client, they can switch to a video chat mode and walk the client through the showroom and show them the actual products they are discussing. Not exactly the same as being there, but a very good way to keep the virtual visit in the hands of a capable salesperson and leveraging a well-curated showroom. Listen here for more information in DWR’s virtual video enabled chats.
My suggestion is to train your sales team how to use tablets with a video meeting app, Zoom, FaceTime, Ring Central, there are many options. This will take practice and, as with any new sales tool, some team members will dive right in and succeed, some will fight it every way and others just will not be able to add this emerging, essential sales technique to their toolbox.
Managing a video showroom visit is not that different from a pre-COVID-19 tour.
- Get to know the client and gain a solid understanding of the job and clients style taste.
- Take them, via your tablet, to see the product you would like to start off the selection process or products they have mentioned. Then follow your regular sales process.
What you may have a harder time showing with this tool is taking in a view of the complete showroom. This impression helps customers understand the totality of your brand’s offering and the opportunity to discover what might be new and exciting for their job. This view is even more important for the designer’s client. Their client does not work with you often and these topics of excellent product curation and your steady stream of new product additions must be worked into your sales associates’ presentations. Each sales associate will have to develop poignant comments on these brand defining issues while also reminding all how you will be with them every step of their building process.
To start, each sales associate should have a tablet and complete Bluetooth headset to limit the background noise for both the client and associate. The right tools will lead to better results. Please, do not be frugal here.
The #1 rule is to take your time. While working with clients in a busy showroom, there are many distractions. In a virtual guided tour, they will only see what the salesperson presents. Instead of seeing 40 faucets, they will see one, two or three products at a time. Each possible product must be presented respectfully and on the client’s timetable. The client must dictate the pace. If they want to see another 5 faucets, so be it. If they are ready to move on to toilets, so be it. They do not know your showroom layout and will ask to go where they are interested in next, which may cause a lot of back and forth for the associate. In the beginning, this will be a frustrating sales process. Over time a good sales associate will implement digital video visits with ease. For now, they must listen, learn and remain patient.
This is the time to practice. It will be difficult for even the best sales associate to listen to the clients, comment effectively, continually point the tablet’s camera at the appropriate products and take notes. The only way to learn how to juggle all this is with practice. More prep time may be needed before the meeting in order to make the meeting more effective and efficient. Consider sending out a pre-visit questionnaire to better understand your client’s needs so that you can pre-select what you want to show them.
Separate your sales team into pairs. Send one from each team and their tablet to a separate work area outside of the showroom. They will play the client. The team member remaining in the showroom will ring them up on their tablet and start the showroom tour. Make sure you have at least three pairs practicing at the same time. It is important the associates not only learn to use the digital video tool, but also understand how to dance around people while digitally interacting with their clients.
Keep it simple at first, working on a powder room or a front door specification. Once they finish with the first round, get all the teams together and go over the trials. Do not rush this. Sharing everyone's experience will help others learn what works and what does not. Now switch roles and restart. This is going to take time and will require patience from everyone, including managers and owners.
Then comes the showroom visit follow up. This will consist of emailing wrap-up notes and, hopefully, a job quote. And, if the client requests actually seeing the noted product samples in person, delivering those showroom samples. Yes, in this new world you will have to live with a showroom that is missing popular products. That will be difficult for some of us perfect showroom people. You will get over it, and sharing samples will be an important part of building a deeper trusting relationship with your good professional accounts. You might have to double-up on more popular products to make sure you do not disappoint a customer.
For the time being, you will only be able to allow a limited number of people into your showroom at any time. Showroom traffic will be governed by your locality’s pandemic guidelines and customer comfort. This will make digital video call specification sessions a significant part of your business. This was coming for quite some time and COVID-19 has pushed us into adding virtual meetings to all our sales repertoires, NOW.
Initially these calls will be a pain and very frustrating for both your sales team and customers. As all sides orchestrate more calls, they will improve the dance and your team will take pride in being the best. Once this happens your strong brand will increase its stature in your market. There will be a silver, video lining.
Articles of interest: