The author of the book Selling Retail, John F. Lawhon is one of the most successful retail salespeople in America. His book consists of two parts that discusses the concept, retail selling. His first book on retail selling is mainly based on two grounds whereby he states that for a retail person to prosper he/she should be able to be acquainted with the customers’ needs and also have the knowledge and proficiency needed to meet those standards. He/she should also be able to assist the customer in recognizing his/her needs. The author shows that a competent sales person will always work hard accomplish the two stated goals. He adds that any person who ventures into type of business without taking the two crucial points into consideration will not prosper in the business.
In summary Mr. Lawhon considers the process of becoming a successful sales personnel as not being inborn but a person needs to work hard in order to achieve this kind of perfection.
The author was once a furniture sales person and during this period he gained a lot of experience as far as the business is concerned. Most of the lessons he is presenting in the book, were gained during the years he was selling furniture. He conducted extensive research so that he could give an illustration of his points. Some of the lessons that he presents here include the customer approach experience whereby he gives an explanation how to approach the customers and why such an approach is important. A good advance to a customer in a cheerful manner breaks through the imaginary walls erected by customers, he adds. He also states that after establishing a good approach, and then a person needs to establish a good communication channel with the customer. The author also shows us the importance of having such an open form of communication with the customers. A professional salesperson will learn more about the customer during the communication process. This will help in meeting the customer’s requirements appropriately.
The first book of Mr. John Lawhon is divided into three parts which include:
i. Revelations – In this part, certain principles are revealed to the reader. These principles originate from the author’s experience as a sales person. He also gives an experience how he trained his staff to sell the items which seemed looked unworthy to others. He states that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and an item which may be unfit for one person may be fit for another. In such cases the sales persons should not to express any concern of the presence or lack of beauty until the time a customer is interested in expressing his/her own opinion. Otherwise they would lose the sale.
ii. The groups of knowledge – The author explains that a competent salesperson should have five groups of knowledge at his/her disposal. The groups of knowledge include knowledge on:
a. Their products and their competitors’ products too
b. Their inventory and their competitors’ inventory too
c. Their advertising strategies and their competitors’ advertising strategies too
d. Their credit plan and their competitors’ credit plan too
e. Their policies and their competitors’ policies too
The author shows how the five groups of knowledge can be acquired. The author shows the importance of satisfying the customers’ needs through using the above groups of knowledge. If the above groups of knowledge are applied sufficiently, then the sales person is likely to ensure customer satisfaction thus boosting his/her sales.
iii. Selling Techniques - This the final section of the first part of the book whereby the author gives instructions on how the selling process can be done. He demonstrates the process of interacting with the customers starting from greeting the customer and getting to learn of his/her wants.
In summary, the author states that the procedures are:
i. Acquiring the five groups of knowledge
ii. Greeting the customer
iii. Qualifying the needs and wants of the customer
iv. Making a selection to present to the customers.
Once a person is through with the above four procedures, the selling process doesn’t begin yet. He discusses the selling process in the second book, Book Two.
After presenting information on how to prepare for the selling process in book one, the author now gives a detailed account on the successful conduct of the selling process.
Book Two is divided into two main sections whereby he covers the sales process in the retail setting and also provides the tips and methods with which the sales professionals can use to achieve the best.
The process of handling customers start with the sales person presenting the customer with the benefits associated with a given product. The benefits should appear to outweigh the cost of that product. The author advices that, ‘the sales person should try to include as much benefit as possible so as to attract the customers to buy a given product.’
In this section, the author puts more emphasis on the importance of getting the customer involved in the process. He states that customers’ views are also very important and the sales person should give him/her time for expression. This will help in the future improvements of the products to meet customers’ needs and at the same time ensure customer confidence.
The author also gives an illustration on how the art of questioning the customer can lead to customer satisfaction.
The author acknowledges objection and goes ahead to illustrate the techniques which can be used to overcome such objections. He states that not all objections by the customers are truly objections but can be some forms of indication that a customer has missed some point presented to him/her previously. In such cases the author advices that it may be necessary to repeat the presentation process.
The author also analyses different types of objections and how the objections can be controlled or reduced. The author also advices the sales professionals against hiding the truth or failing to mention some design failures in a given commodity. He states that such failures can be mentioned and the customers informed of their effects so as to ensure customer trust. The author believes that it is very acceptable to ask for the sale.
The salesperson should assist a customer in acquiring what he/she needs to have. After the process of advising on the product, the salesperson should therefore ask for a sale from the customer. According to the author, this step is considered the first closing technique.
At the conclusion of the sale process, the author covers how a salesperson needs to say goodbye. The author also covers the recommendations that a salesperson can use. They include: reinforcing the customer’s appreciation of the item just purchased, making sure they leave with a business card and conducting follow up phone calls.
As the book concludes, the author covers additional techniques that can be used by the salespersons to increase the sales opportunities. John Lawhon also gives his opinion as the concluding remarks that if a person is successful in conducting sales, then there is no reason for them to move into the managerial positions. He believes that the promotion that a sales person can get if he/she performs the job well is simply moving up with a higher level of income.