Book Review – Selling Retail – Book Two by John Lawhon

In Book One of “Selling Retail” the author, super successful salesman John Lawhon, gave the reader valuable information on how to prepare for the selling process. In this book, he elaborates on the successful conduct of the process itself.

This book is divided into two main sections. The first section deals with the sales process in the retail setting itself, and in the second section, he provides tips and techniques with which the sales professional can round out his or her education.

He begins by discussing the presentation itself. In the presentation, the customer should be presented with benefits which will outweigh the cost associated with acquiring those benefits. Mr Lawhon uses the following outline to illustrate his view of the process:

* Customers buy emotionally and will then seek to justify that decision with logic after the sale.

* The features presented to the customer should support the buyer’s decision.

* The more features and benefits shown to the customer, the more emotion will be generated.

* The more features shown to the customer the more data the buyer has to support the buying decision.

Therefore, it is important to include as many features and benefits in the presentation as possible, and this includes features which may not be visible, and benefits the customer may not have thought of without the “inside” knowledge of the sales professional.

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The author then stresses the importance of getting the customer involved in the process and presentation beyond simply listening to the statements of the salesperson or watching the demonstration. A person who actually handles the tool, sits in the chair, or tunes the piece of equipment is more likely to purchase than someone who listens to the sales pitch droning out for the ten millionth time. He also recommends keeping, and using, any outside items or information, such as ads or movies in which the product appeared.

He then illustrates how the art of questioning the customer can lead the customer to practically “sell” the product to themselves. Questioning can also be used to clarify the customer’s actual needs in both the salesperson’s mind and that of the customer.

The author goes on to illustrate techniques which can be used to overcome objections. He begins by pointing out that while some objections may simply be “steps” to go through on the way to the sale, some “objections” actually delineate the existence of genuine obstacles to the sale. An example of this would be the case of someone who simply did not have the money necessary to purchase the article. On the other hand, some of these “obstacles” may be real but may give the salesperson the opportunity to solve the customer’s problem. In this case, an example could be that of someone who has been shown a piece of furniture which clashes with their existing color scheme. A key point under objections is that an objection may not be truly an objection but rather an indication that the customer has missed some point previously made in the presentation. In this case, it may be necessary to go through the presentation again.

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After a general discussion of objections, the author goes a bit more deeply into the subject, discussing what the objection really means and how to blunt the sharper edges of an objection and what to do about objections based on money or knowledge… real or assumed.

In the discussion on actually writing the order one of the key points made by the author is that many sales are lost simply because the salesperson just wasn’t ready at the moment of truth, lacking a calculator, the appropriate forms, or even a pen to write with. He also advises against attempting to hide the fact that an order is going to be written up by avoiding mentioning the process or other tactics designed to camouflage the fact that an exchange of money for product is going to occur.

Mr. Lawhon, like many other successful sales professionals, believes that it is perfectly acceptable to ask for the sale. In fact, in keeping with his philosophy that the retail sales person is there to assist the customer in acquiring what they really need and want, that sales person should recognize the need to conclude the active portions of presenting and move on to helping the customer take possession of what they need to have.

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Obviously, at least to the author, asking for the sale could be considered the first closing technique. However, the author also devotes several pages to other closing techniques,

Finally, at the conclusion of the sale, the professional even knows how to say good-bye, and the author covers this as well. Three major recommendations are to reinforce the customer’s appreciation of the article they have just purchased, to make sure they leave with a business card, and to follow up with a phone call.

In the last part of Book Two, the author covers additional techniques which can increase sales and sales opportunities and discusses entering the sales profession and related topics. In this final part, Mr. Lawhon also re-expresses his opinion that if one is successful in sales there is no real reason for them to seriously consider moving “up” into management. It is his feeling that if the selling is done right, the sales professional simply moves “up” into a higher income level.

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