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The Changing Nature of Face-to-Face Sales in a Post-COVID Environment

Face-to-face sales are central to many sectors, particularly Home Improvements. Customers purchase large-ticket products, and buy the holistic experience – reputation, quality, expertise and, very often, a lifestyle.

Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has proved it is possible to do almost anything virtually, we are still social beings – we like human contact. That’s why the face-to-face sales technique is so effective. Cold-calling and cold-emailing leaves people cold for a reason, and both are easy to ignore.

The benefits of face-to-face

Face-to-face sales are personal. Sales representatives are experts in their field and can deliver presentations while answering any questions the customer has. This expertise provides reassurance and builds confidence in your brand that results in sales.

Selling face-to-face:

  • Reassures customers
  • Builds brand trust
  • Boosts buying confidence
  • Improves customer experience
  • Increases sales

Face-to-face sales post-COVID

The pandemic pressed pause on face-to-face sales earlier this year, but, with the correct measures in place, it can now resume. Be sensitive to the uncertain climate caused by COVID-19 and the anxiety your customers might feel.

Safeguarding your sales reps and customers

  • Before making and attending an appointment in your customer’s home, it is important to check local COVID-19 restrictions. You can check the Local COVID Alert Level using your customer’s postcode here.
  • Ask your customers whether they, or any other members of their household, have tested positive for COVID-19, are awaiting COVID test results, or have any symptoms. If they have, rearrange the visit for a date after the end of their isolation period.
  • Provide your customer with an explanation of the measures you will take to protect them and how to expect their appointment to go.

At the appointment

On arrival, your sales reps should reiterate that the customer and members of their household do not have, or suspect they have, COVID-19.

  • Use hand sanitiser before entering a customer’s home
  • Maintain a safe distance in the customer’s home
  • Limit contact with surfaces by letting customers open doors for you, for example
  • Try to sit side-on to customers, rather than opposite them
  • Use technology to process sales at arm’s length

How Shermin’s Trade-Quote App can help

In these days of constant change, it’s crucial to demonstrate to customers that you are innovative and able to reimagine the sales process to meet their needs, despite the difficult circumstances.

Here at Shermin, we developed our Trade-Quote app to provide a frictionless purchasing journey. Trade-Quote is a payment-options and quoting tool web-app – both mobile and desktop-friendly so you can bring it to the customer’s home.

Trade-Quote allows you to calculate finance repayment figures at the touch of a button, and email a full list of payment options to the customer and automatically to yourself.

Trade-Quote:

  • Increases chances of a purchasing decision
  • Increase transparency and trust
  • Emails clean and professional quotes
  • Is simple to use

Register here: https://www.sherminfinance.co.uk/sign-up/

Key takeaways

  • Face-to-face sales are pivotal in the home improvement market, but safety is paramount.
  • Taking precautions to protect your staff and customers will build trust in your brand.
  • Leveraging technology not only helps maintain a safe distance from customers; it also shows you are innovative, modern and customer-centric. 

Get in touch with Shermin to discuss how our Trade-Quote app can help your business adapt to the post-COVID selling environment.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Point-of-Sale Finance – Part 2

Part one of our point-of-sale finance blog series conversed the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of point-of-sale finance. Now, we’re going to cover the ‘how’.

Point-of-sale finance is easy to set-up for Home Improvement businesses. Here at Shermin, we provide everything you need to get set up, as well as free advice along the way.

75% of retailers believe faster and more flexible point-of-sale finance is either very or extremely important to consumers when buying a product, according to Hitachi Capital (UK) PLC’s A Blueprint for Retail Investment 2018.

37% of consumers would consider using retail credit if they were offered interest-free deals, according to Mintel’s 2018 Consumer and Retail Credit report. 

How POS finance works

Traditional retail credit – like credit cards – relies on the customer applying for finance externally. There is often a lengthy application process, followed by a wait to receive a physical card through the post before customers can use their credit card to make purchases.

The beauty of point-of-sale finance is that the customer can access a range of finance products via the retailer, on-the-spot. They can choose and apply for the most appropriate solution instantly.

How to set up POS finance

As credit brokers, registration with Shermin gives you access to lenders and a choice of finance products to suit your customers’ needs. Options include:

  • Interest-free credit
  • Interest-bearing credit
  • Buy Now, Pay Later 

What you need

To start offering point-of-sale finance to your customers, you only need a few things:

  • A web-enabled device
  • Internet connection
  • A relationship with a credit broker relationship

You do not necessarily need FCA authorisation to offer point-of-sale finance to your customers.

At Shermin, we use our intuitive app, TradeQuote to make the point-of-sale finance process seamless. TradeQuote runs on mobile or desktop, meaning you will only need an internet connection and a web-enabled device (mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop). We are happy to talk you through the technology you need.

How long does it take to set up?

We aim to give you a live finance facility in just 48 hours. Other providers typically take at least two weeks.

Choose Shermin

Here at Shermin, we make it easy for retailers to offer point-of-sale finance to customers. We have access to the UK’s largest panel of lenders and (unlike some brokers) have access to all credit products available.

We specialise in (but are not restricted to) providing consumer credit for home improvement retailers. We work hard to keep our process simple but are always on hand to support you.

Start offering point-of-sale finance to increase sales, customer satisfaction and grow your brand.  

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The Beginner’s Guide to Point-of-Sale Finance – Part 1

What is point-of-sale finance?

Point-of-sale (POS) finance is consumer credit offered at the point of purchase – when customers have reached the decision to purchase.

Other examples of consumer credit include traditional credit cards and store cards, as well as increasingly popular online Buy-Now-Pay-Later offerings, such as Klarna and PayPal Credit.

The way customers shop is evolving rapidly – POS finance helps your business stay competitive.

Changing consumer behavior

Customers demand more choice and flexible payment options

Bricks-and-mortar retail is struggling to compete against e-commerce. People can shop anywhere, anytime, thanks to smartphones and greater PC use. They also expect fast and free (or cheap) delivery, easy returns and flexible payment options. Today, consumers demand convenience and choice.

Despite this, there are some sectors where customers still prefer to purchase in-store – Home Improvements is one of them.

The impact of COVID-19 on Home improvements

  • COVID-19 has fueled a surge in the Home Improvement market
  •  People are spending more time at home
  • Need for home offices/workspaces more prevalent

The ‘don’t move: improve’ ethos was already gaining traction, but when the first lockdown hit in March, we suddenly found ourselves spending more time at home than ever before. Naturally, people wanted to make their homes as comfortable and functional as possible.

Needs changed, too, with home offices required for the shift to remote work and, amid travel restrictions, gardening’s popularity soared with people keen to both find a hobby and transform their outdoor spaces.

The impact of COVID-19 on finances

  • Consumer confidence wavering
  •  Economic uncertainty
  • Customers less willing to pay for big purchases upfront

Despite home improvement sales remaining relatively resilient throughout the COVID crisis, the pandemic has caused widespread economic damage which has now dented consumer confidence. Though showing signs of recovery from the minus 36-point low in June (according to GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index), ongoing uncertainty over job losses means customers are wary of making big purchases upfront. Many people do not have access to savings or wish to dip into them. Point-of-sale finance helps customers get what they need now while giving them the ability to plan their finances and spread the cost.

Why you should provide POS finance

  • Your customers want flexible payment options
  • POS finance boosts sales

Point-of-sale finance is easier than ever to provide. New innovation during the FinTech boom has streamlined the provision and application of retail credit, making the process fast and pain-free for the customer. Millennials are increasingly disenchanted with credit cards with high interest rates and complex terms. Point-of-sale finance offers greater choice and transparency.

Advantages of POS finance

Point-of-sale finance increases sales by 17% on average, as well as boosting order value by 15%, according to research by Forrester.

For your business

  • Boosts conversion rates
  • Increases average value of sales
  • Attracts new customers
  • Encourages repeat business
  • Builds trust and brand loyalty
  • Improves customer satisfaction
  • Easy to set-up and use
  • Competitive advantage and USP

For your customers

  • Spreads the cost of bigger purchases
  • Gives complete transparency
  • Empowers customers to manage their finances
  • Easy application process
  • Improves customer experience

What we do

Shermin are an independent, authorised facilitator of consumer finance solutions for your customers. We specialise in providing Consumer Credit.

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Shermin Finance Covid-19 Policy

Shermin Finance have been working hard to put processes in place so that we can ensure everyone is safe in our dealings with Retailers, Lenders and Business Partners.

What can you expect from us:

  • We will contact you on the day of any visits to check if you are self- isolating, displaying any symptoms of COVID19, and/or have received a positive diagnosis. If this is the case, the visit will be deferred for at least 14 days.
  • We will ask you to confirm if there are any persons currently identified as being most at risk, such as the over-70’s, and/or those with underlying health issues. In accordance with government guidelines we will not proceed with any meetings with such people and any visits will be rescheduled once government advice changes.
  • When anyone from Shermin Finance visits your premises, they will arrive where possible in separate vehicles to avoid cross contamination and where this may not be possible, will follow the PHE guidance.
  • All our office equipment will be cleaned before use.

Unfortunately, we will not allow any visitor to Shermin Finance’s premises if the answer is ‘yes’ to any of the following questions:

  • Have you returned from a foreign country (outside the UK) within the last 14 days?
  • Have you been in close contact within anyone who has returned from a foreign country (outside the UK) within the last 14 days?
  • Have you had close contact with or cared for someone diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last 14 day?
  • Have you experienced any cold or flu-like symptoms in the last 14 days (to include fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory illness, difficult breathing)?

Visitors to Shermin Finance offices will be asked to use hand sanitiser and remain at least 2 metres apart in accordance with social distancing rules.

We will not shake hands with you, although you can expect a welcoming smile.

Much as we like to offer hospitality, we are afraid during these unprecedented times, they will not be able to offer you (or accept from you) refreshments, so please do not be offended when we say “please do not offer any refreshments”.

Training and Business Meetings

Business meetings and sales training will be carried out using appropriate electronic means e.g. telephone, Zoom, or bespoke virtual showrooms/quotation software.

We thank you for your co-operation – stay safe & stay alert.

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Protect Your Workforce

Back to work – safety in the workplace. In England, the government as of 11th May has now issued an update for a safe return to work, which includes tradespeople and the home improvement and renewable energy sectors. As soon as is practicable, workplaces in England should follow the new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines.

The QASSS summary guide, “Protecting your workforce and customers” covers the key government guidance to help protect employees, customers, suppliers and others.

Click the link below to download. The 14-page guide includes general workplace guidance, hygiene and cleaning, wellbeing, PPE, working in people’s homes, vulnerable people, communication, moving round sites and more.

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Double Glazing App

A new double-glazing smartphone pricing app has just got even more attractive for installers – by now being able to offer a finance option.

Double Glazing App by Virtape allows the consumer to measure and price windows and doors remotely in under 90 seconds meaning there is no reason for a home visit.

And thanks to an agreement the company has secured with specialist home improvement finance provider Shermin Finance, a monthly finance cost can now also be displayed by the approved installer within the app.

Virtape Managing Director John Cohen said: “A monthly finance package will allow installers to not only stand out from their competition but provide a payment solution that suits today’s homeowner so they can opt for new windows and doors without affecting their cashflow.“

This is great news for installers as it should give any consumer the best option to price and buy double glazing without a home visit.“We believe this is the final piece of the jigsaw for the Double Glazing App and we are delighted to be working with a respected firm like Shermin to help provide this.

“When we finally come out of lockdown we believe finance will be very important to consumers who understandably are wary of spending their savings.

Designed with sister company Leads 2 Trade to help installers get more enquiries and better conversion rates from their existing web visitors, the launch was brought forward to assist during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Double Glazing App is licensed by the installer and potential customers download it from the installer’s website, measure the windows/doors with the app or a tape measure, then select the style, colour and handles and receive an accurate quote from the app instantly, alongside a monthly finance price. They can then confirm the price by booking a survey and sign up in the normal way.

“Offering a monthly finance price will provide another attractive option for customers and make it easier for installers to sell their products and grow their business,” added John.

Virtape is waiving the monthly licence fee for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak and installers will run on a month to month agreement so there are no long-term commitments.

Register at www.doubleglazingapp.co.uk/smartphone-quotes

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Now a HIES Affliate Partner

Shermin Finance are pleased to announce that we’ve become an Affiliate Partner of The Home Insulation and Energy Systems Contractors Scheme (HIES).

As an independent broker, Shermin provides consumer finance for the fast-growing Renewables sector.

Our finance solutions (interest-free, BNPL & interest-bearing options) can help businesses close more sales, increase average order values, improve cash-flow and generate more repeat business.

Kevin Brookman, Sales Director of Shermin Finance Ltd commented, “Shermin Finance are delighted to be working in conjunction with HIES and its members. Like HIES, we truly believe in putting the customer at the heart of everything we do. With our consumer finance options together with the reassurance that HIES provides to customers, we make a great partnership.”

Ciarán Harkin, Managing Director of QASSS, commented, “We are delighted to welcome Shermin Finance as an Affiliate Partner. It’s fantastic to work with a partner who can help installers to grow their businesses and who is committed to responsible lending in the renewables sector.”