• Tony Pearson

Sofa, So Good....

One of my last blog posts was about poor sales and I don't like to focus on the negative so this post is a yin to that particular yang....

I recently took 'er indoors out suite shopping, much to my bemusement as, not least because I knew it was going to cost me a fair bit of money, my past furniture shopping experiences hadn't been something I was eager to relive. Luckily, after visiting a few of the retail park regulars we came across Sofology (the new name of what was known as Sofa Works) who provided a completely different experience.

To me Sofology stood out from their competition for the 3 following reasons, which I thought were worth sharing (hence the blog). All of which are things I work on with my clients and Sofology have got spot on. It's not a coincidence that they now have my hard earned money for a suite rather than another furniture store:

1. A modern range: okay - I don't tend to dictate to my clients about what they should stock but I do encourage them to listen to their customers in order to make decisions about product range or service packages. In each furniture store I went into other than Sofology, it felt as though they has tailored their selection of suites to a demograph of 75 year olds in 1963. In Sofology there was a huge range of modern, smart looking, well presented suites, which you could tailor the spec of to suit your needs. I'm not a connoissuer of what is trendy and what isn't in the world of fabric and furniture but I could observe my better half's reaction to a walk around other furniture shops versus her walk (and mainly sit) around Sofology. From wizz around barely interested elsewhere she went to 'oooh, can I sit on that one too' in Sofology. This screams of market research and measuring sales across different ranges to make stock decisions, rather than stocking what you've always stocked or what you can pick up cheap/make the best margin on.

2. No bullshit discounts: we all know the adverts I'm talking about. That half price sales that we'll never see the likes of again until next weekend. Every other store we went into had EVERY suite on sale. The majority of which didn't look like they were worth the labelled discount price, never mind the supposed retail price. In Sofology you genuinely got the feeling that you were getting the quality that you were paying for, mainly because the range is quality and the prices are reasonable but this is backed up by the absence of discount labels. I educate my clients that 'discount' is a swear word. If you need to discount it, it's probably because it's either crap or you're not capable of helping the customer buy it - either way the answer is not discount, it's better product and/or better sales & service.

3. Sales & Service: We actually visited two separate Sofologys during our trips (plural!) to find a new suite and the sales and service we experienced was consistent in both stores. First of all the greeting of the sales person on the floor is very well trained - 'welcome to Sofology, have you been here before?' is a fantastic, friendly conversation opener and immediately begins to build rapport, this versus the 'are you alright there?' we got elsewhere. All anybody ever says to that 'yes thanks' and your conversation is dead before it has begun. Once in conversation we were very politely and patiently shown around and asked questions (all the stuff I bang on and on about to my clients) and there was no desperation to close a deal there and then (which, bizarrely and quite rightly always closes more deals). The perfect experience. After we'd made our buying decision (importantly AFTER and not BEFORE) the rep told us that she was not targeted on sales but was targeted on customer service and satisfaction and politley asked us to provide feedback via a text message we would receive later in the day. This is the IDEAL way to target sales people - NO SHORT TERM SALES TARGETS. Our Account Managers are incentivised in the same way when conducting telesales on behalf of our clients. I used to manage a company for someone else where the telesales team were given £10 each time they booked an appointment for a client. This of course led to the 'telesales operatives' booking anything they possibly could in order to gain more £10s and the clients spending time going to weaker appointments. At SOUL we have an 'Account Manager' operation where they are salaried to retain customers, this aligns their goals perfectly with the clients' and their focus is not taken away by weak short term incentives. I'll make that point again - ALIGN YOUR SALES TEAMS' GOALS WITH THOSE OF YOUR CUSTOMERS. Again, something Sofology have seemingly nailed.

These 3 things made us buy from Sofology. They also have a solid process for upselling and referral generation but more on that in a later blog.

Where should you go for your next suite?? Up to you but do think about what you find positive/negative about the EXPERIENCE and how you can improve your company sales process as a result.

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