Jill Konrath’s thoughts on selling can seem puzzling until you stop to make sense of them
Editor’s note: This is the last of a three-part series on improving sales. This month we look at how paradoxical principles can help you sell more.
Sometime back, I ran across an article titled The 7 Paradoxical Sales Principles by Jill Konrath and thought it might give you insight that may help your mattress selling skills.
Here are Jill’s seven principles along with my comments in italics to adapt them for retail mattress sales.
To win more sales, stop selling.
When people feel like they’re being sold, they react negatively and put up barriers. Focus on helping your prospects achieve their business, professional and personal objectives—not making a sale.
My take: It’s becoming cliché—our customers don’t want to be sold, they want unique buying experiences.
To speed up your sales cycle, slow down.
The more quickly you push to a close, the higher resistance you encounter. Go one step at a time. When your prospects know you want to help them make the right decision, not a rash one, the process moves faster.
My take: Through relational selling, focus on your customer, use guided discovery to help her conclude: “I want to buy this mattress because I believe it will improve my quality of life.”
To make decisions easier, offer fewer options.
When you increase the complexity of the decision, you decrease the likelihood of winning the sale. To help your prospects move forward, give them less to choose from. Keep it simple—always.
My take: If someone likes a dish you prepared, you would never take them away from enjoying it to read them the recipe. Most people don’t want to know everything about the product; they want you to know so they can have the trust and confidence to buy. Keep it simple, find out as much as you can about their experience, expectations and needs to narrow the number of choices you show them.
To be more natural, prepare like crazy.
Today’s customers suffer no fools. If you’re not ready with the right message, questions or presentation, you’ll stumble or be stilted in your meeting. When you do prepare, you can be your best self.
My take: Few people buy a mattress online. Most gather information online before they shop. Don’t get caught off guard. Make sure you frequently visit websites of manufacturers and competitors to see what your shoppers may know. Keep up with your product knowledge, and not just on your brands.
To get bigger contracts, start smaller.
When you pursue the “whole shebang” decisions are more complex and costly, making it much tougher to get approval. Reduce the risk by starting small and proving your capabilities. Then it’s easy to grow.
My take: Make add-on products a part of the sale. Don’t wait until you’re about to write up the mattress. In addition, you must believe that all the extra products your store provides are actually enhancements to make sure your customers get the most out of their mattress investment.
To speed up your learning curve, fail fast.
It’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes. So don’t wait until you’ve figured out the “perfect pitch” before moving forward. In sales, there is no failure—just lots of opportunities for experimentation, learning and growth.
My take: Instead of “pitching” have a conversation with your customers. If you’re sleeping on a new, top-quality mattress (and you better be, don’t make me come get you) try telling your customers about your own personal experience and what sleeping well has done for you.
To differentiate your offering, become the differentiator.
That’s the biggest reality in today’s market. Your products, services or solution are secondary to your knowledge, expertise and the difference you make for your customers. Invest time in yourself.
My take: Sales training should be a lifelong endeavor. I’ve had sales associates who have been selling mattresses for 10, 20, even 30 years or more still striving to improve their selling skills. Become an expert not only in mattresses, but also in sleep. Sample dialog: “We’re a little different here, not only do we know how to find the mattress that is right for you, we have some great tips to ensure you get a great night’s sleep.”
Make that 8, paradoxical principles! Here is one more that I’ve been advocating for many years.
By putting others’ needs above your own, you’ll become more successful than if success were your goal.
The point is to switch the focus from selling to serving. That’s right, when working with shoppers, if the motive is to make the sale; the shopper becomes the vehicle to satisfy the sales associate/retailer’s needs. Motive is perceived by shoppers. By focusing on each shopper as a unique individual with the motive of helping improve their quality of life, sales will consequently increase. Not only that, most shoppers will choose to purchase better quality products and be more likely to tell others about their mattresses and shopping experience.
Embrace the contradictory nature of paradox and enjoy the benefits of putting these into action.