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The Traveling Retailer's Bedding Sales Tip #10: Go to the Beach and Learn How to Sell

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by Gordon Hecht

This week’s installment is inspired by Curt Grady, a Growth and Development Manager for America’s Mattress in the Western US.

Curt headed to the beautiful beaches of Mexico for some well-deserved R&R, but like a lot of us, it was hard to turn the business brain off. He got the opportunity to see the WRONG and RIGHT way to sell. And while the price tag may be lower than our average ticket, the ENTHUSIASM and PROCESS is something we can all learn from!

Curt and Regina stayed at a resort on the beach. The resort was roped off from the general public and each day on the public side were beach vendors selling everything from hats, clothes, food, and jewelry. These pesky vendors will get in your face at any opportunity and will approach you the moment you cross on to the public side of the beach. Most of them went straight in to their sales pitch shouting that they “are the cheapest, these clothes would look beautiful on you (not him, Regina), this is 100% silver” and other trite come-ons.

They ignored most of the vendors and continued on the beach until they met Larry. Instead of hawking his wares with the usual opening lines, Larry smiled and asked how we were. Then he continued to ask questions such as “Where are you from? Is this your first time here? Do you have anything fun planned while here?” This led our happy couple to continue the conversation with him, learning about his experience working on the beach and with tourists.

The conversation was enjoyable, just like a couple of old friends chatting on a sunny afternoon. They learned a lot about Larry and he learned a lot about us…never once discussing the items he was selling. Eventually, with a big friendly smile, Larry asked if he could show us some of his hand-made jewelry. At that point Curt and Regina were open to Larry’s presentation and he showed them a variety of rings, bracelets, and necklaces, seemingly personally selected for them! They were happy to purchase a few items from him that day and felt like we had met a new friend. A few days later Regina decided she wanted to purchase a gift for a friend and they headed back out to the beach to find Larry to buy more…a lot more.

We love to say “Its SALES 101”, but I am pretty sure no one has documented a syllabus for that course. If I ever write the object of SALES 101 it would have THREE MAIN POINTS.

  1. People Love to BUY, but HATE to be SOLD
  2. People will always BUY from an FRIEND, but cannot be SOLD by a stranger
  3. Business goes where it’s INVITED and returns where it’s APPRECIATED

You might even add point #4 Shoppers don’t CARE what you KNOW, until they KNOW that you CARE.

Sure, we want to close the sale the first time, but if we direct our efforts to making a FRIEND (cue: Getting to Know You from the King and I!) instead of making a SALE, our shoppers would be more relaxed and open to BUYING better sleep, instead of being SOLD a mattress. The part about INVITING business-that requires your sales team asking the shopper to buy, at the logical point in time.

That last part about APPRECIATING the business. It’s actually the easiest part. Shoppers who become BUYERS know that you appreciate them when you DO what you SAY you are going to do it, WHEN you say you are going to do it. No exceptions.

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Read other articles by Gordon Hecht