BY GERRY MORRIS
In the July/August issue of Sleep Savvy, I presented the Pygmalion and Golem effects, which explain how employee performance and even customer behavior are influenced by the expectations of others—positively in the case of the Pygmalion effect; negatively in the Golem effect.
In essence, retail sales associates perform much better when their managers expect them to perform well. Conversely, if managers have low expectations, RSAs sink to them, as it were. In the July/August article, I discussed how these concepts apply more broadly to retail mattress sales. (Read the full article at SleepSavvyMagazine.com/Pygmalion-Golem-Effects). In this article, I’ll do the same with a similar, yet even more powerful concept, the Galatea effect.
The Galatea effect is a compelling factor in performance because it deals with self-expectations or, perhaps more aptly said, self-fulfilling prophecies. People’s opinions about their abilities and their own expectations about their performance largely determine their actual performance. To put it in mattress sales terms: RSAs who think they can succeed in selling sleep products likely will succeed in selling sleep products. This effect can be magnified by managers who encourage associates to believe in themselves and their efficacy.
RSAs can nurture high expectations for themselves by using visualization—imagined narratives or scenarios of successful selling encounters. As an RSA, you’re probably used to participating in role-playing sessions to practice hypothetical selling situations because it’s an effective sales training tool. Visualization is like role playing in your own mind.
Hitting the books
There are dozens of books that discuss these valuable concepts, and there are a few, in particular, I think are worth your time.
Let’s start with Wayne W. Dyer, a psychotherapist and author of worldwide best-sellers, including “Your Erroneous Zones” and “Pulling Your Own Strings.” Through his writings, Dyer presents ideas and suggestions on how to improve your quality of life by “tapping into the power that lies within you and using constructive thinking to direct the course of your own destiny.” In his book, “You’ll See It When You Believe It,” Dyer demonstrates that through belief you can make your life anything you want it to be. He presents practical ideas about how to set real goals and achieve them, turn obstacles into opportunities, rid yourself of guilt and inner turmoil, develop a strong inner confidence, dramatically improve relationships, spend every day doing the things you love to do, and so much more.
Denis E. Waitley has trained both NASA astronauts and Olympic athletes using visualization. In his audio training course “The Psychology of Winning” and in his many books, Waitley has shown that your mind can’t distinguish whether you’re actually doing something or if you’re simply practicing. He believes if you “go there in your mind,” you will “go there in your body” or, as he puts it, “when you visualize, you materialize.”
Everything I’ve been writing about has its roots in a classic book first published in 1960, “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz. While the title might be intimidating or even off-putting, it’s actually a wonderfully readable book that explains how the mind works. According to Maltz, essentially everything we perceive, see, hear, taste, touch and smell is permanently recorded in our memory banks. That doesn’t mean we can recall it all, but the information is in there. Maltz discovered that the recording of information is nonjudgmental; your brain accepts it all simply as data. Given that, your mind doesn’t differentiate between real and imagined information. By purposefully thinking positive thoughts and imagining situations, your brain can use those scenarios as guides for how to act and perform in new real-life situations. Amazing, huh?
Motivational and self-help experts specializing in personal development, including Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins and Brian Tracy, all have based their techniques on Maltz. And many of the psychological methods used to train elite athletes are based on the concepts in “Psycho-Cybernetics,” as well. Maltz learned that the power of self-affirmation and visualization techniques came from the connection between the mind and the body, and he created techniques to develop a positive inner goal as a means of developing a positive outer goal. This concentration on inner attitudes is essential to his approach: A person’s outer success can never rise above the one visualized internally.
The point of all this is that whether you call it self-expectations, self-fulfilling prophecies, visualization or the Galatea effect, all are backed by sound research proved over and over, not only by the authors mentioned, but by countless people who have improved their performance and their lives through these concepts.
So, how can you use these tools to become more proficient and productive? Well, you can start by practicing in your mind. Take the real-life selling situations you experience and replay them in your imagination, only this time rehearse the ones that didn’t go so well with more positive imagined outcomes instead. And replay the situations that did go well, enhancing them with even better results. You’ll get more benefit if you discuss the scenarios with others and solicit their input and suggestions, as well.
What do you expect?
And finally, while I’m no Dyer, Waitley or Maltz, I have developed a simple concept that seems to have helped many of the RSAs I’ve worked with over the years: Imagine two encounters in which you are in selling situations with shoppers. In one scenario, you expect the shopper will likely not buy from you, preferring to shop around some more—or perhaps she’ll buy from you but only an inexpensive mattress. In the second scenario, you except that the shopper will choose to buy a top-quality mattress and will be thrilled with her purchase.
How do you think your attitude and demeanor would differ between the two scenarios? How enthusiastically would you engage each shopper? If you were the shopper, in which scenario would you respond more favorably? I think you know the answers. They are obvious.
You might have heard the sentiment: Even if you aren’t happy, if you smile and act happy, you likely will become happy. It’s true and so is this: If you expect your shoppers to buy a top-quality mattress set and love it, it makes sense that they are more likely, in fact, to do just that.
Sleep well and help others do the same!
The Morris library of mattress wisdom
As the editors of Sleep Savvy, we think Gerry Morris, a longtime contributor to the magazine, sells himself a little short in this column. Because when it comes to experts in retail mattress sales, we think he is tops. And like the authors he mentions here, he’s written several books, including “Spring Training” and “Sell More Beds, Guaranteed,” that are packed with valuable information that will help you improve your selling skills and better understand your customers. They might even make you a happier, more positive person in other realms of your life, too. His most recent book, “Mattress Matters,” is a compilation of his columns from Sleep Savvy. Get your copy at SellMoreBeds.com.
Gerry Morris is an author, consultant and training coach with more than 20 years of experience in the mattress industry. 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.