Seeing yourself as part of an important process that involves countless other people who can make you more successful
BY GERRY MORRIS
At 6 years old, riding in the backseat of our ’56 Chevrolet station wagon, I gazed at the sparkling lights of Dallas disappearing in the distance as my family journeyed back to our little town after a day’s outing to the city. It was a trip we had made on many occasions, but this time was different. In an instant, my whole world changed: Instead of viewing the luminous scene as a whole, I realized that every twinkling dot was an individual light. My thoughts exploded as I began to ponder where each light was located, how someone put each bulb in place, how each fixture was connected to a wire. The questions came quickly: Where did the wires go? Where did the electricity come from? Who changed the bulbs when they burned out?
It was as if I had put on a special pair of glasses that opened my eyes and my mind to a profound new understanding of my surroundings—a vision of the world that endures to this day. It goes beyond how I see, think and respond: It is who I am.
Seeing the forest and the trees
Fast forward to early in my career as a mattress manufacturer’s representative. I, along with my associates, went to a Leggett & Platt Inc. factory to see how mattress spring units were made. It was—and still is—a fascinating process. I watched a young man loading the wire into the coil-making machine, and, thanks to my “magical spectacles,” I realized that those coils could conceivably be put into a mattress that I would sell and that that mattress would later end up in a bedroom where someone would enjoy sleeping on it for many years. Wow!
From there, my mind made the now-familiar leap. I considered every element of a mattress and, as best I could, traced each back to its source. Someone mined the ore to make the steel, planted the trees that eventually became slats in the foundation, processed chemicals in the foam, and harvested the raw materials in the latex and fabrics. When you consider all the people who have something to do—either directly or indirectly—with bringing all those materials and components into the manufacturing process, the numbers are staggering.
I made eye contact with the young man on that L&P factory floor and my thinking leapt again: I was selling what he was making and vice versa. We both contributed to each other’s livelihood. I imagined that he had a family dependent on him, just as I did. Suddenly, I was motivated, empowered and had a sense of belonging to something much larger than myself. At the same time, I was burdened with a sense of responsibility to the many unseen people in the mattress industry. There is an interdependence and interconnection we share with thousands of people—most of whom we will never meet—that nonetheless affects our lives in some small way.
The top of the pyramid
Even more stunning to consider is where retail sales associates fall in the mix. Imagine a pyramid where the base is made up of the providers for all the various components in a mattress set. Each layer of the pyramid above represents the people who contribute, even in small way, to the production and delivery of the finished product to the retailer.
The capstone of the pyramid is the RSA: Every dollar generated for the entire mattress industry passes through an RSA’s hands. At a single moment during one conversation between an RSA and shopper, the ownership of a mattress set is transferred from the supply side to the demand side of the sales equation. In many ways, it’s also the moment when all the financial benefits of the entire process begin to flow to all the involved parties, contributing to the livelihoods of everyone along the way.
A shared vision
Years before I wrote my first book, “Spring Training,” I started sharing this vision with all the RSAs I trained. While there were lots of contributing factors, I have no doubt that this way of thinking about mattress sales helped me exceed my territory goal six times over.
In fact, I believe whatever success I’ve had in helping RSAs become more effective is based on teaching empowering concepts like this rather than just handing out information. Information, if not acted on, does no good. But concepts can change perspectives. A change in perspective engages emotions, taps into intuition, promotes personal growth and inspires creativity.
Admittedly, not everyone gets it. Many RSAs I’ve worked with continue to just show up for work and try to close deals to make ends meet. But over the years, I’ve seen many more empowered to the point of building successful, rewarding and long-term careers selling mattresses—making lots of money along the way and enjoying the intrinsic rewards of being an integral part of something good by helping hundreds, even thousands, of people improve the quality of their lives.
Recently, I did a training session with the RSAs for a chain of stores. I focused primarily on a few concepts, including the “visionary” one I’ve been discussing here. The owner informed me that the very next day after the training, those RSAs tripled average sales for the day. While many unknowable variables influence business, it’s hard not to believe the RSAs were inspired by wearing their new glasses.
What are you waiting for? Put on your glasses and see the wonderful world of retail mattress sales! The only catch? You’ll never want to take them off.
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.