BY GERRY MORRIS
Adopt these principles to mattress selling, and you’ll achieve financial success by doing the right thing for the right reason
Most readers will instantly associate the headline of this article with Stephen R. Covey’s best-seller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” That’s because it’s considered by many to be one of the best self-improvement/business books of all time. Released in 1989, it has sold more than 25 million copies and is a fixture of Amazon’s list of top 10 business books. Time magazine places it among the 25 most influential business management books of all time.
In this article, I will take each of the seven habits and add applications as they relate to retail mattress sales.
The reason for the success of the book is that it’s based on principles Covey describes as external natural laws, as opposed to values that remain internal and subjective. Covey proclaims that values govern people’s behavior, but principles ultimately determine the consequences. Even criminals have values—bad values. Success is achieved by aligning your values with universal and timeless principles or, as Covey refers to it, developing a “character ethic.”
Retail sales associates who align their values with these principles and form the habit of integrating the suggested applications into their daily lives surely will increase their effectiveness. Financial success will become the byproduct of doing the right thing for the right reason. The additional benefits will be multifaceted and long term.
Before you can adopt the seven habits and fully utilize the applications, you’ll need to accomplish what Covey calls a paradigm shift—a change in perception and interpretation of how the world works. Like putting on a new pair of glasses, we suddenly see things in a new way and, in this case, a better way. (Note: Paradigm shift has become cliché, in part because of Covey’s use of it.)
Mattress Retail Sales Associates can view their job as writing up sales to earn a commission or shift their perception to see themselves as the touch point for the mattress industry, improving lives by helping people choose to invest in a quality sleep set for their benefit. One must see from the latter vantage point in order to adopt the habits and utilize the applications I’ll outline here.
Here are the seven habits with brief explanations, followed by my suggested applications in italics.
BE PROACTIVE. As human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.
There are many things that influence retail mattress sales, most of which are beyond sales associates’ control. These include competition, the economy and the weather. In addition, RSAs have little if any control over what products, prices and policies their company offers. Therefore, they must accept reality and focus on what they can control, starting with their appearance, the appearance of floor models and, to some degree, the appearance of the store itself. Also, through training, research and study, RSAs can become better equipped to serve shoppers. Finally, they can focus full attention on every shopper and instill trust by being competent, confident and having genuine concern for others’ well-being.
BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND. Take the time to develop a mental image of what we want to accomplish and be.
For RSAs, visualizing every shopper choosing to invest in a quality sleep set and seeing yourself as the professional closing the sale is a must. Imagine assuming that scenario as opposed to assuming shoppers will probably want to keep shopping around. One ends with you ringing up a sale to a satisfied customer. The other ends with you handing the shopper your card, saying “I hope you’ll come back.”
PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST. Covey sees the third habit as the integration of the first and second habits. Bringing these first two ideas together, the third habit adds our ability to discipline ourselves and, therefore, make our ideas a reality.
While mattress RSAs have a whole host of issues to deal with, the one that really matters is the interaction with a shopper. To maximize every opportunity, RSAs must focus on and engage shoppers as individuals, being fully equipped and prepared to serve them with the goal of closing every sale for their benefit. Not doing so is a disservice to all.
THINK WIN-WIN. Win-win is a frame of mind that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. All parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan.
Putting others’ needs before your own is the best way for all to benefit. Instead of focusing on closing sales to earn a commission, RSAs who strive to help their shoppers reap the benefits of deep, restorative sleep by choosing to invest in quality sleep sets prosper in ways beyond the monetary. Winning in this case extends to the countless people, including the suppliers and retailers, who bring a finished mattress to the point of sale.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Next to physical survival, the greatest human need is psychological survival—to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.
Rather than making presentations to shoppers, RSAs should engage individuals in conversations. Goal-oriented conversations educate, equip and empower shoppers, helping them choose to purchase a quality mattress set. The best approach is to use open-ended questions that elicit valuable information to help determine which mattress sets fulfill their needs.
SYNERGIZE. This is the habit of creative cooperation. It is teamwork, open-mindedness and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems.
Finding solutions to old problems as it relates to mattress sales simply can mean finding more effective ways to help shoppers choose to buy and become satisfied customers. That can extend the term teamwork to include the shoppers themselves. In addition, successful retailers create a culture of teamwork in which all employees appreciate their customers and are aware that the consumer is the boss who can fire everyone by choosing to buy elsewhere.
SHARPEN THE SAW. We all need to practice self-renewal. This is the single most powerful investment we can make in life—investment in ourselves. Covey calls this habit the “upward spiral” consisting of three parts: learn, commit, do. The idea of renewal through education will propel you along the path of personal freedom, security, wisdom and power.
I’ve made a career out of trying to help mattress RSAs become more effective. In so doing, I’ve witnessed countless professionals commit to ongoing training to make sure they are up to the task of serving today’s emboldened shoppers, who easily can choose to shop and buy from an ever-increasing number of sources.
Covey describes habits as the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do) and desire (want to do). So, through study, practice and desire, mattress RSAs can incorporate these seven habits and applications to become highly effective.
Sleep well and help others do the same.
Gerry Morris is an author, consultant and training coach with more than 20 years of experience in the mattress industry. To learn more about him and to buy his books, including the new “Mattress Matters,” visit SellMoreBeds.com. Morris’ Inner Spring training company has a strategic partnership with The Furniture Training Co. to offer a premium online training course, “Sell More Mattresses with Gerry Morris.” For more information, check FurnitureTrainingCompany.com.