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Career Story: Customer Service And Sales Rep For A Home Improvement Retailer

Customer Service And Sales Rep For A Home Improvement Retailer

Job Title: Contractor Sales Specialist

Type of Company: I work for a home improvement materials retailer, at the "Pro" desk, assisting contractors and homeowners.

Education: BS, Commerce, Business Administration, Rider University (Lawrenceville, NJ)

Previous Experience: I worked in the cosmetic industry for 28 years with Revlon, Charles of the Ritz, Shiseido and Diamond East Labs. Starting as a management trainee with Revlon (right out of college), I opted out of its training program near the end to join I.E. Group. I progressed through planning and manufacturing to purchasing, where I spent the majority of my career, ending up as Vice-president of Operations.

Job Tasks: I work with contractors, coming up with materials lists based on their plans or descriptions of the job. I special order materials we don't normally carry or unique to a customer's needs (custom decking materials, for example). this requires me to work with all the departments of the store and to have considerable knowledge of the construction trades and the various store departments: gardening, flooring, lighting/electrical, kitchens/baths (including cabinetry and appliances), plumbing, millwork, tools, paint and lumber.

My daily activities include reviewing open orders, checking on delivery dates, reviewing sales figures (month- and week-to-date), since we are on a quota system. I review open quotes and call customers in an attempt to complete the sale. I tend to contractors as they approach the Pro Desk for assistance. I use a computer-assisted design program to lay out designs wit them, when necessary. This will generate the materials list. I then verify what is available and insure that the customer is aware of the latest methods and tools to do the job, and i assist with new tool selection. After finalizing the sale, I set up the delivery or pick-up with the customer. If the customer does not have one of our store credit cards I attempt to sign him up.

Math, geometry, algebra and people skills are key to this position, in addition to knowledge of the trades....much of this is done via in-store training.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Dealing with people and DEALING WITH PEOPLE.....In the great majority of cases customers are terrific or can be made that way if the salesman displays congeniality, confidence and knowledge. Some (very few)can be troublesome depending upon their prior bad experience in another department or store. A big plus is the ability to assist and please the customer.

The "quota" system on which I'm measured is problematic, but our training is unambiguous in insisting "doing the right thing" is more important than the sale in the long run. The key to a "good" encounter starts with the greeting!!

Job Tips:
1.) Schooling: Mechanical ability is a plus (understanding how things work...) I would suggest engineering courses. Basic math is very important along with geometry and in some cases algebra.

2.) Hands-on experience...any experience gained via summer or part-time employment in ANY of the departments mentioned earlier is a big help. Much of my training has been acquired "in-store" and was excellent.

3.) Sales training: Learn to "greet" the customer, analyze the need, suggest alternatives where necessary and "Close the Sale". Selling is the ultimate goal...

Additional Thoughts: Smile.....engage.....demonstrate your knowledge (with humility), and do all within your abilities to get the customer to develop confidence in you. Make every effort to "look the part": wear similar apparel to that worn by your customers, n my case, jeans, open-neck shirt, work shoes or boots, ball cap with pencil slot. Always carry a tape measure and a pen. The most important things in any sales job are confidence in your knowledge and giving the customer what he/she wants.

And always try to stay busy and have fun!!!

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