In the first of a two-part series, we revisit six of the most useful and empowering ideas that have had a positive impact on sales associates over the years
BY GERRY MORRIS
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. … We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.—Aristotle
According to the “Principles of Learning” blog on WordPress.com, repetition perhaps is the most intuitive learning principle of all.
While I always strive to come up with new and exciting topics for this column, I often catch myself restating ideas and suggestions I’ve made in the past because I feel they were worth repeating.
Nancy Butler, former Sleep Savvy editor in chief, told me once that it’s good to revisit older topics that still have value. Sleep Savvy has a multitude of new readers every issue, and, besides, it’s unreasonable to expect that regular readers will remember everything they’ve read.
I’m encouraged when I hear from long-time readers who still seem to enjoy my articles and find them helpful.
“We want to thank you for inspiring our company and our dealers over the years.”—Garry Beard, chief executive officer, A.H. Beard, one of Australia’s oldest and largest bedding manufacturers
“We never get tired of what you have to say.”—Bill Lane, veteran and top-producing retail sales associate, Weir’s Furniture Village, Dallas, Texas
When I spoke to Bill today to make sure it was OK to use his quote, he told me that not a day goes by that he doesn’t use the things I have talked about repeatedly over the years. He said they have made him a lot of money as a result. Wow! I was so humbled and taken aback that I literally got tears in my eyes. He could teach me more than I could ever teach him.
So now I feel good about listing and repeating some of the most important—and I believe—useful ideas that seem to have had a positive impact on RSAs over the years. Whether you are new to the bedding industry or a veteran who may recall some of these, my heartfelt desire is that you will benefit from them and hopefully be able to say that you, like Bill, made more money as a result of having used them.
Here are some of my top training ideas. followed by brief explanations. The first in a two-part series, this is called “empowering concepts.”
1 “Needs” vs. “wants” paradox: It’s the things people need and depend on most that they often least like to buy. Here’s an important insight into the mindset of the consumer: When people buy things they need, such as high-use, utilitarian products, they use logic and reason to discern value. When people buy things they want, they do so for how they imagine they will feel. Their emotion will compel them to buy, and price becomes secondary. Through simple conversations, RSAs have the ability to change the dynamics of the selling process by helping people change their motivation from a need to a want.
2 Intrinsic vs. extrinsic value. Intrinsic value is something that is good in and of itself. Extrinsic value is something that leads to a benefit. Most things have both, and it’s up to the individual to determine how best to view them.
For example, you can consider a mattress something you sell to make money or a product that enhances people’s quality of life. You can consider a customer as someone who buys from you or a person with hopes, dreams and desires just like you. You can view your job as a means to provide an income or an opportunity to connect with someone and be of service to her. You can decide which is most beneficial.
3 The essence of retail. There are literally hundreds of people who play a role in bringing a finished mattress to the point of sale. All the effort of all those people is placed on the shoulders of RSAs. The conversation between seller and buyer is the penultimate point where the ownership of goods transfers from the supply to the demand side of the equation. This is the most important event in retail sales. It is the definition of it. Once sold, a mattress has the potential to profoundly impact a customer’s quality of life for years to come.
4 Guided discovery—goal-oriented conversations with shoppers. Rather than make a presentation to shoppers, RSAs interact with them by asking open-ended questions in a give-and-take manner. RSAs pause and consider responses and then formulate follow-up questions. This relational method of selling empowers shoppers, makes them feel more a part of the process and results in them choosing to buy rather than being sold to.
5 Switch from selling to serving. Here’s another paradox: By focusing on and prioritizing others’ needs above your own, you will become more successful than focusing on success. If you’re motivated by sales volume, commission, profits, etc., then you perceive shoppers merely as a mechanism or vehicle for you to reach your goals. It’s all about you. People sense your motive. By making every effort to discover your shoppers’ needs and help them find a mattress they will be happy with, your sales will soar. People will want to buy from you and tell all their friends to, as well.
6 Active awareness. It’s not uncommon for RSAs to gradually lose awareness of their surroundings, the importance of mattresses, the uniqueness of shoppers and their ability to help people make intelligent buying decisions. But unlike other species, we humans have the ability to control our thoughts and, with practice, can choose what we think about and how we view what we do. The story of the bricklayers illustrates the point.
Three bricklayers building a school are asked what each is doing. The first replies, “I’m building a wall.” The second one notes, “I’m building a school.” The third pauses then says, “I’m building the future of our community.”
Which one do you think not only does a better job but also enjoys his work and feels a deeper sense of purpose and reward? You can sell mattresses and pull down a commission, or you can change lives for the better, including your own.
In the July/August issue look for part two: principles and practical selling tips.
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. 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.” To view the course, visit www.furnituretrainingcompany.com.