Sales Tip # 1 - Abide by the Ten Rules of Engagement

We are in a war. I’m not referring to the war in Iraq, but the war we are all experiencing for sales. The battle is almost like hand to hand combat because it will be won by selling, one customer at a time. To survive in these turbulent economic times, we must win the war for customers; we must be more effective at closing the fewer customers who are looking for flooring. The game has changed, but the rules of engagement haven’t.

In war, the rules of engagement (ROE) determine when, where, and how force shall be used. Such rules are both general and specific. In selling, there are also rules of engagement. The ROE are extremely important because they provide a consistent, understandable and repeatable standard on how salespeople act. Following the rules of engagement will increase your closing rate and win the war for customers when your competitors are using the ineffective low price strategy.

1. Greet the customer with a smile within 20 seconds of entering the store. Whether you are busy or not, smile or wave, but acknowledge the customer as she enters the store. Act like you are glad and appreciative that she is there. Remember, why customers leave – indifference – who cares?

2. Always make the customer feel in control. Psychologically, this is critical. Feeling manipulated, controlled or coerced, she will leave. Help her feel in control by asking permission. She will feel in control if you give her choices (Though, not too many). “Based on what you told me, I think there are 4 or 5 products that will work perfect for you. May I show them to you?”

3. Sell her what she wants, not what you want. Be product neutral. Research shows that when salespeople have too few favorite products, they will limit their sales. “The salespeople should be selling you what you want, not what they think you should buy” (A flooring buyer). Following this rule also makes the customer feel in control.

4. Never talk longer than 30 seconds without asking a question. Listening is a skill. The best salespeople keep the customer talking by listening and asking questions. If you are talking too much, the customer may not be engaged. A question will keep her focused and talking. The customer feels more in control when she is talking and you are listening.

5. Give the customer space if she desires it. Be aware, watch the customer. If she wants space, give it to her. Let her look. Watch her, she will tell you when she feels safe enough to let you in. While she’s looking, every once in a while, ask her a question, try to engage her. Letting her have space will help her feel in control.

6. Learn your customer’s goals and dreams for her house. What’s her concept of a beautiful room? Most salespeople don’t ask enough questions. Remember the customers make three decisions: A fashion decision, a performance decision and a price decision. Which is the most important, depends on the customer. (Email me to request my list of questions you should ask a flooring customer,

7. Never make the presentation before the engaging enquiry. A big mistake salespeople make is to start presenting product before they understand what the customer wants. The customer may say, “I’d like to see your Berbers.” Most salespeople would say, “Sure, come over here and I’ll show you the ones we have on special.”

8. Ask the customer for her name and address. What do you call a customer who walks in your store? A qualified lead. If you let her leave the store without buying and without getting her name and address, you have struck out. With her name and address, you have a way to maintain contact and follow-up. Always ask permission. To create a good follow-up or UP System, contact me at

9. Mark everything and mark it by the square foot so that she can make comparisons without you. Again this strategy makes her feel in control. Customers report that if everything is not marked, they wonder what the store is trying to hide. Trust is lost and the salesperson spends more time with the price book than with the customer. The customer can’t evaluate different products without the salesperson. She uses price as a way to make comparisons. In addition, the customer has to remember the price of every product quoted.

10. Make the customer's experience remarkable. “Good remarkable,” in that the customer will want to tell others. The experience is everything. If you are patient, you ask good questions, you focus on her needs, you build value, you sell her the right product, the installation is hassle-free, and she feels that you really care about her, she will tell her friends.

In selling and in war, it is winner take all. How much commission do you get for the sale you almost made?

Yes, times are tough; there are fewer customers. We have to get better; we have to close more. If you close just one more person out of ten, and you are an average closer, that will give you a 33% increase in sales. If you follow the Ten Rules of Engagement, one more out of 10 is easy. Let them work for you!

Thanks for reading.

Sam Allman
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