Mastering the Art of Sketching to Increase Sales

A hand holding a pencil sketching furniture in a room on a pad.

The formula is fairly easy when considering strategies to increase sales in the retail furniture store environment. Sales = Customer Visits x Close Ratio x Average Sale. Increase your close ratio and average sales, and overall sales naturally increase. The easiest way to increase close ratio and average sales is to meet your customers’ needs (solve their problem) and sell them more than they thought they came in looking for. So, how do we achieve that? The answer is simple- sketching. 

Sketching starts a conversation and reveals critical information. Simply asking, “Tell me about your room,” invites your customers to talk about themselves (everyone’s favorite topic). It also permits you to ask important questions like their name/address/telephone number, who will use the room, the needed product, and the timeline. As the process continues, the budget can also be addressed. You can talk about what’s in the room, what’s staying, what’s leaving, what’s causing the struggle. Conveniently, it can also be a document that houses all pertinent information, such as a project summary, product selection details with pricing and stock status, and a follow-up plan by date. And today, with the availability of room planning software, it’s possible to take the sketch to an entirely new level. 

Sketching creates a bonding, interactive experience that gets customers talking about their room. They may have told you they were coming in to purchase a new sofa, but you could ascertain that they needed a rug, console table, lighting, and wall decor through sketching. During the conversation, you may have also discovered that they need extra seating, and only with the knowledge of the room layout were you able to offer other options that neither of you would have otherwise thought about. Sketching enables you to bring to the surface the problem your Customer is looking to solve by making the connection of getting the Customer’s room out of their mind and into yours. This personalized attention establishes the relationship and sets you apart as a caring professional. 

And yet, despite all of the benefits, sketching is one of the most underutilized and overlooked tools by many salespeople. Sketching leads the way to helping customers solve their problems unobtrusively by asking the right questions and moving the Customer toward appropriate solutions. So ask about the room, talk about the room, sketch the room, and learn as much as possible to make informed suggestions that solve your Customer’s problems. Then sit back and watch your close ratio and average sales increase, leading to overall sales increases.

Find more sales training tips and resources from the Home Furnishings Association.


Lori Friedlander

Lori Friedlander is the Principal of Furnia Home | All Things Furniture, a furniture and home furnishings consulting firm. With over 20 years experience, she has parlayed a strong sense of fashion, color, style and trends into diversified positions within the home furnishings industry. A merchandising, sales management, and design professional, her experience includes working with both family-owned and corporate entities, including renowned brands such as Ethan Allen, La-Z-Boy and Bassett Furniture.

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