BY GERRY MORRIS
The sounds of success
Alliteration is a stylistic device defined by the repeated sound of the first consonant in a series of words, e.g., the headline on this column.
There are several reasons I like using alliteration. First, it’s kind of fun for me to see how many meaningful words I can come up with that all start with the same letter or sound. Also, it’s easier than writing well-thought out paragraphs. Just kidding!
Alliteration can be used as a mnemonic device—a memory aid, tool or trick that helps you remember things. When I Googled “mnemonics,” I was pleased to see that alliteration is listed as one of the most popular types of memory devices.
So let’s jump into the “C” and swim through some concepts and suggestions that will help increase your mattress sales. Hang onto them like buoys to keep your head afloat as you navigate the turbulent waters of retail mattress sales.
To sell sleep products successfully, you need superior product knowledge, combined with strong selling skills and experience. All three elements require a continuing investment in training, as well as practice.
Confidence—a belief that you can do something well—is a manifestation of competence. Shoppers can perceive confidence in retail sales associates and it helps them to trust in the sales process. Competence leads to confidence, but true confidence is most often the result of practice and experience. Imagine a college graduate who has knowledge and possibly even skills. But in a new situation among more experienced RSAs, that person may lack needed confidence.
Top RSAs understand that ongoing training is essential to success. It’s important to stay abreast of what’s going on with your store, brands and products. It is also vital to stay current on what’s happening in the industry as a whole—with manufacturers, competing retailers, even suppliers. (Sleep Savvy and www.sleepsavvymagazine.com are excellent sources of information!) It’s never good when shoppers are more up to date than RSAs.
Caring and compassion:
The point here is that RSAs can be competent and confident, but unless they have genuine concern for the well-being of others, they can be perceived as arrogant and self-serving. Trying to serve others increases sales more than trying to sell to people.
While there are several definitions of character, I think one that emphasizes moral excellence and consistency best applies to successful selling. Having integrity means telling people what you’ll do and doing what you say. Being honest and adhering to moral principles are elements that make career professionals so successful—and the rewards go far beyond the monetary.
RSAs may possess vast knowledge of their products, but unless they can communicate it in a way that shoppers can understand, it’s useless. Always consider the perspective of shoppers and never assume they understand what you’re trying to explain. It’s important to ask and verify to see if further clarification is required.
Talk with rather than to shoppers. People don’t want to be sold; they want to choose to buy. I call it “guided discovery”—goal-oriented conversation that engages and empowers shoppers, makes them a partner in the process and provides them with accurate information that leads them to purchase a comfortable, quality mattress for their benefit.
It goes without saying that RSAs should be considerate to shoppers, but consideration also means listening to what people have to say, pausing to consider their words before answering. Doing so makes each sales encounter more interesting, unique and productive.
Closing the sale is the single most important event in retail. Not closing a mattress sale is a disservice to the shopper and a complete waste of everyone’s time—except, of course, the competitor who will surely get the deal. No one browses for mattresses. Most stores have several models that can satisfy most shoppers. Attempt to close every sale with confidence—it’s your responsibility to do so.
I mentioned the importance of staying current on the activities of competitors. But it’s equally important to never say anything derogatory about competitors. In fact, it’s actually better to praise than bash them. Try this: “Yes, Company X does a nice job. There are plenty of places to shop. Let me show and tell you why our company has so many satisfied customers.”
The people who visit your store are consumers who, hopefully, will become customers. And it’s vital that you think of them as unique individuals, each with his or her own dreams, desires, troubles and trepidations. Focus 100% of your attention on each one to discover how best to be of service and assist in helping him or her to select a quality, comfortable mattress.
When your interactions with shoppers end with you handing them a business card instead of closing the sale, those encounters have obviously been a bust—time wasted, end of story, tremendous odds a competitor will get the sale. The best use of a calling card is to hand it out when you’re away from the store. Engaging people, even strangers, about sleep and mattresses isn’t a difficult thing. Everyone needs to sleep and almost everyone is or will eventually be in the market for a new bed. Invite everyone you can to try out the latest, most comfortable products in your store. Play the numbers: They add up.
Try using the ideas in this little word game of alliteration to increase your sales. Perhaps you can think of more applicable words that start with C. But the larger point is to get you to think about and remember these ideas, concepts and practical selling tips. Put them to use as soon as you can. That’s what helps cement them in your mind and makes them become second nature.
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. His latest book, “Mattress Matters,” is available at 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 www.furnituretrainingcompany.com.