“With each conference, I dig down a little deeper, evolving our conversation to build upon the lessons learned the year before,” said entrepreneur, author, and nationally recognized motivational speaker Ty Bennett. “The first year that I addressed the International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) members, I explained the power of storytelling. In the second year we explored the anatomy of the sale. Now we’re focusing on the very first element, making a connection as your customer walks in the door.”
Bennett’s keynote session, "Creating Connections: How to Read Your Customer Like a Pro,” is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. on February 6, during the #ICFAEdCon2020 at the Kona Kai Resort and Spa in San Diego. The conference opens February 4 and runs through February 7.
“We asked Ty back because of membership demand,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, ICFA Executive Director. “When they shared and implemented his advice from the previous two years with their sales teams, they saw results. This year he’s going to help our members learn the techniques to connect, communicate and establish trust on the sales floor. We believe even the most experienced salespeople will return to their stores with fresh insights and tools for improvement.”
Bennett said that some salespeople, particularly those blessed with a natural skill set, are more adept than others at making strong initial connections. However, everyone can enhance their skills by learning and practicing a series of techniques, his “formula for connection.”
“Some salespeople think they have great people skills, but if they have been doing it a while, they may have become complacent and somewhat cynical. They just don’t put the same energy into each new interaction. Conversely, an inexperienced salesperson might not know how to open a conversation to find out what their customer is seeking. Every day salespeople make assumptions that lead to or prohibit sales. They aren’t aware of their mistakes, or they would change their behavior,” he said.
According to Bennett, the three attributes for becoming a winning connector are care, curiosity and consistency. “Winners love people. They don’t like everyone, but they love the opportunity to interact, to help, to be of service. They truly care for people. They want to make a situation better. Their relationships go further than a strictly transactional interaction.”
Curiosity involves how the salesperson sizes up a new customer. “There are commonalities, but you should never put shoppers in a box. We all see common themes, but we are often surprised when our assessment is incorrect. Don’t judge a book by its cover, learn how to read the book,” said Bennett.
“Consistency is crucial because it means showing up day in and day out with the same level of energy and commitment to building your skills and connecting with your customers. Listen more and talk less. Don’t make their decisions for them. Know what to ask, learn how to open people up, and create understanding. Communication doesn’t happen when it is said; it occurs when it is understood.”
While Bennett’s expertise is in helping salespeople develop and home their skills, his overarching objective is to generate growth. “Sure, we all want more sales, more commissions, more money, but growth is the true goal. That growth benefits every aspect of our lives, far beyond a sales situation. Transferring the practical steps of the formula into interpersonal relationships with colleagues, friends, children and spouses will result in better communication and deeper understanding in every aspect of your life,” said Bennett.
Sponsors of #ICFAEdCon2020 include: theMART, Glen Raven/Sunbrella, International Market Centers, Ratana, Lloyd Flanders, O.W. Lee, Treasure Garden, Brown Jordan, Castelle Furniture, Dallas Market Center, Outdoor by Ashley, Outdura, Poly-Wood, Sunbelievable, Sunset West, Tropitone, Winston Furniture, Bella Dura Home, Gensun, Jensen Leisure Furniture, Kannoa, Klaussner Outdoor, Telescope Casual Furniture, Trivantage, TUUCI, Para Tempotest USA and Elaine Smith.