Recommended reading – Selling Retail


Lawhon Bk 1

Many people assemble a “Summer Reading List.” Sometimes these are actual plans that are carried out and other times they are mere wish lists of books that aspire to read.  The types of books that make the list can range from the easy to read and not too taxing books of romance, mysteries and the like.  Others tackle the classics, those books that you should have read years ago but never got around to.  (I recently picked up Three Famous Short Novels by William Faulkner and quickly realized why I never got through them in college.)

So, if you are in retail and are looking for a good read, I recommend Selling Retail Books 1 & 2 by John F. Lawhon.  This classic was first published over 30 years ago and continues to stay relevant and insightful today.

The author came from the world of furniture sales.  Lawhon was working as a furniture department manager by age 20 after a stint in the military and working in a furniture factory.  His career included founding the Lawhon Furniture chain  and he retired in the early 80s after selling off his part of the company.  His daughter reported his retirement lasted 2 days.

Part Two of his career included being an author and speaker on retail sales.  Drawing on his 35 years in retail and hundreds of interviews with top salespeople, he wrote Selling in Retail in 1986.

Lawhon Bk 2

Selling in Retail is two books.  But don’t worry, you will not have to track both of them down since they are published back to back as a single volume.  When you finish with Book One, simply turn the book over and start the second.

Many of the stories and examples that he uses in the books are about furniture sales.  Do not fret.  In almost every example you can replace the word “furniture” with items you sell, stereo, blouse or bicycle.

The book focuses on retail selling to the mass markets using the same basic techniques.  The key theme of the book is how to sell with integrity.

The first part of the book includes eleven “revelations.”  The revelations are core concepts to guide you on the sales floor.  Revelation Number Eight “Old Ugly was a dog” is a personal favorite.  Next, Lawhon talks about the five knowledges that one needs to know to be a great salesperson.

Finally, the book moves on to the Six Phases of Selling

  1. Greeting & Approaching
  2. Qualifying
  3. Selecting
  4. Presenting
  5. Closing
  6. Saying Goodbye

Along the way, he talks about greeting with an open-ended question, the keys to customer involvement and how to overcome objections.  The book finishes up with more tips and guidance on selling and a career in retail.

The book is no longer in print but with over 1 million copies sold, you should have no problem finding a copy on-line or at better used book stores.

Pick up a copy and enjoy your summer reading.

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