“The Secret,” the national best seller, is based on the law of attraction. The “energy” that we send out into the world, positive or negative, is what we will receive in our lives. It is the principle that, “Our thoughts become things.”
This principle has a dramatic impact on furniture sales, but before we discuss specific tools and techniques, lets look at what “The Secret” is all about. This idea is nothing revolutionary or new, yet this book took off and still tops the bestseller list. Why has it hit such a nerve with us humans? Why now?
A good friend pointed out to me, that when he saw the DVD version of the book, its haunting music and the graphics reminded him of “The DaVinci Code.” In the first 30 seconds he was surrounded by mystery and intrigue. It made him want to know more. If you see it, you too will want to know what is THE SECRET, what does it mean and how can you benefit from its wisdom?
Dr. Joe Vitale a Quantum Physicist, says in no uncertain terms that we are the masterminds of our life. We sculpt who we are, who we want to become by our intentions. “You are the Michelangelo of your life. The David you are sculpting is you,” he says. Decide who you want to be. Believe in your passion, and it will become reality. It’s that hard, and that simple! That’s all! Who doesn’t want that?
Why now? Why has it hit such a nerve NOW? I think that there are many reasons.
The world is in disarray and we’re uncomfortable with what is happening all over the globe. It’s unsettling. Most of you reading this article live in the US, the world’s super power, so why don’t we feel super? It’s very unsettling.
If you (like me) are of the baby boom generation and are coming of “age”, you’ve probably realized, that contrary to your previous suspicions, you are not immortal.
Many furniture store managers, design and sales associates, I speak to have been visited by personal challenges. As a result, they’ve become more introspective. Their priorities have changed, and their lives have taken on subtly different meanings.
AT RETAIL YOU HAVE A CHOICE
When you were growing up, you were probably told that you should “grow up and act your age.” And yes, most of you eventually did. With adulthood came stress... ulcers in our collective lacerated stomachs. Our hearts kick in, or not, by attacking us. It isn’t pretty!
People who are under stress have a choice. They can define their lives in terms of their setbacks and suffering or they can refine and cultivate their dreams. Those who choose the former, find themselves on a slippery slope that infects their personal and business lives. It is a death sentence for someone selling furniture at retail. That’s because you can’t send out negative energy and get back sales success.
The passion of youth can wane, but it doesn’t have to. In the true story, made into the movie, “The World’s fastest Indian,” Anthony Hopkins plays a character who lives his passion. For twenty-five years he thinks of nothing else while he travels half way around the world. See this movie! It’s another “Secret” that’s out there. Passion and belief, that’s where it all starts.
DEFINE YOUR PASSION
If you live only in an obsessive world of dreams you will seem like a two dimensional character -- so don’t go overboard. Surely you don’t want to be one named “Dopey” singing “High Ho, High Ho” along with the other 6 little men. Though, if you can’t define your passion, how can you pursue it?
As Dr. Fred Alan Wolf, another quantum physicist, points out, “You create your life with your thoughts. Your mind is actually shaping the world around you.”
Once you understand this concept, the gauntlet will been thrown down for you to stop settling for less than you deserve. All you have to do is picture it, believe it, send it out there, and you will attract positive rewards.
In another wonderful book, “The Ultimate Gift,” Jim Stovall suggests that you start this process by making a list of all the things that you would like to do and have. Next, prioritize your list.
Since we are speaking about furniture sales here, I expect that your list might contain career sales and advancement goals as well as underlying attitude and personality issues that keep you from attaining them. You might want to boost your average sale by 20%, help more people to create beautiful rooms, have more patience with clients and co-workers, or have more fun while on the job.
So what stops us from making progress toward attaining our dreams? Fear often plays a big part. Sark, another must-read author, says that, “Fears are all based on illusion and creative thinking, with a side order of what if.” If we become fearful and say, “What if I fail,” What if I’m not good enough,” we take our dreams out of the realm of ever becoming reality. Instead of imagining the possibilities, we pack up our insecurities and we move right into comfort zones where we settle for existing.
TAKE ACTION - MAKE SALES DREAMS A REALITY
One of the many lessons to be learned from “The Secret,” is that positive thinking is not a magic bullet. It is, however, something that has the potential to wake us up. It can get us thinking about how comfortable we really are with the status quo, no matter how unsatisfactory. “The Secret” calls for action in the face of risk. I have a sign on my refrigerator that says, “Today is the someday that you dreamed of long ago.” Buckminster Fuller said, “Victims are nouns. They don’t do anything. Owners are verbs. They take action!”
Rhonda Britten, author of “Change Your Life in Thirty Days,” says that, “Changing how you approach risk changes how you approach the world.” She segments risk into three zones.
- Stretch Zone: She calls the first ring outside of our comfort zone the “stretch zone.” The stretch zone for you could be taking a computer seminar or participating in a consumer event.
- Risk Zone: Next is the “risk zone,” which might be asking for three clients to refer you, or calling three clients, out of the blue, that you haven’t talked to for six months! (gulp!) Move out of your emotional zone so that you can grow.
- Die Zone: The ring farthest from the center is the “Die Zone.” This, for a lot of people in sales, can be summed up in two little words, “Cold calling!”
She suggests that you make a list of activities that can help you grow, personally and professionally, and then decide if each activity is a Stretch, Risk, or Die.” A Die doesn’t stay a Die. As you obtain information and develop new skills, it becomes a Stretch or a Risk.
MANAGING SALES RISK AT RETAIL
All of sales is about risk. Every time you go to the front door to greet your new UP, you put yourself on the line.
Your job is to connect with customers and to develop rapport, yet your customers don’t always want to connect with you. When they don’t connect, seem distant or internally focused, ask them to “make themselves at home.” Let them know that they’re in for “quite an experience!” Say, “Enjoy. I’ll stop back and “visit” or “talk” with you. I’ll be anxious to hear how you feel about our showroom!” Never say, “I’ll come back and ‘check’ on you to to see if you have any questions.” That’s what they’ve heard from every other furniture retailer. Only clerks “check” on customers.
If a customer is having a bad day and taking it out on you, acknowledge it. “It looks like you’ve had a bad shopping experience. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I’m here to help you. How may I do that?” Or let them know, “I’m here for three reasons to make this EASY, PAINLESS, & FUN!”
Are you going to connect with everybody? Of course not. Never take rejection personally. Remember one word and one word only – NEXT!
In the baseball themed movie “A League of Their Own,” Geena Davis, the catcher, tells her manager Tom Hanks that she wants to quit. “It’s just too hard,” she says. Tom lets her know, “If it wasn’t hard, anyone could do it. If anyone could do it, it wouldn’t be so special.” It takes a very special person to do what you do at retail.
Retail, is challenging. Each day is a classroom filled with all new students. Each one has different needs, and brings their own set of experiences and expectations when they walk through the door.
PUT YOUR PROBLEMS IN THE DRAWER
Is it hard going to “the door” everyday with a smile plastered all over your face? You bet. I used to know a design associate named Maggie, who would prepare for her next UP by opening up the bottom left-hand drawer in her desk, look in it for a couple of seconds, close it, and only then go to greet her customer. One day I asked her, “Maggie, what’s this drawer thing?” “Well,” she said, “You know I’m having a lot of personal problems right now. When I have to go greet my UP, I don’t want to take my problems with me to the door. So I put them in my bottom left-had drawer, close it, and that’s where they stay until I’m finished helping my new UP. Is this a great idea or what? You don’t need to drag your problems with you to the door. You don’t need to baby-sit them. They’ll still be there long after “Ethel” leaves!
NO BAD DAYS AT RETAIL
You know that there is no such thing as a bad hair day in retail. Whiners are not winners! Become a “secret shifter.” (It’s impossible to feel bad, and at the same time have good thoughts.”) Have fun with “Ethel.” She’s meeting you. She needs your help. You’re the Pro. Let her know you are there to help her.
You’ve heard all of this before. You know it in theory. So why aren’t you putting it into practice? Why can’t you send out what you want to receive? Are you afraid? Are you making excuses? Are you bringing your problems with you to the sales floor? Now is the time to remember and refine your dreams. Now is the time to take action. It’s the taking the action part that is the secret of The Secret.
Cathy Finney is President of Ancell Affiliates\”T ‘N T.” She is a noted motivational speaker, sales trainer, and management consultant. Questions on any aspect of sales training or sales management can be sent to Cathy care of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine, at firstname.lastname@example.org.