Why the 'Why' of the Sale Matters More Than the 'What' Whether you're selling mattresses or any other product, think about why your customers are there.

By Jeff Shore

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you couldn't sell what you are selling now, what other product would you choose to sell?

For me, it's a no-brainer: I would sell mattresses. I would sell mattresses and I would clean up. I would convert 90 percent of the visitors to my mattress store into happy buyers. I would be unstoppable.

Yes, I am well aware of the hubris of that last statement. Please understand that I am basing my seemingly arrogant claim on actual observations.

Related: Never Say These 7 Things in Sales

Consider the typical opening dialogue in a mattress store sales experience:

Salesperson: "Can I help you?"

Customer: "We just want to look around."

Salesperson: "Absolutely. Feel free to lie down as you are looking. I'll be right here. And we have a sale going on."

Customer: "Thank you."

Let me just break that conversation down with a little color commentary.

"Can I help you?"

Really? What a stupid question. How would the customer even know how to answer that? You're a salesperson. If you can't help, leave.

"We just want to look around."

Huh? What? I don't think so.

Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you drove through a strip mall parking lot, noticed a mattress store, and said, "Look honey, a mattress store. I know we don't need a mattress, but let's go check out the latest and greatest"?

Sorry, not going to happen. Let's just all agree on this: When you darken the doorway of a mattress store, you are there to buy, not to "just look around."

"Feel free to lie down. And we have a sale going on."

Rough translation: You figure it out, and ignore the prices -- they're fake.

Related: This One Word Is the Key to Sales Success

A slightly better approach

I wasn't going for shock value when I said I would kick butt in mattress sales. I am supremely confident about how I would approach selling mattresses.

I have a clear-cut strategy in mind, and it has nothing to do with mattresses -- at least not at first.

I have observed a common sales error in this environment and in countless others. Far too many salespeople are absolutely consumed with the "what" of the sale. I am all about the "why."

Think for a moment about why people buy a mattress. Brainstorm with me:

  • Bad back
  • New, larger home
  • Child graduating out of a crib
  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Bed bugs
  • Pet stains

The "why" determines the "what." I don't need to know what you are moving to until I understand what you coming from.

Once I understand the "why," I can provide the "what." Working to learn the "why" from customers rolls the sale out in front of you!

Evaluate your own sales approach from this vantage point. Don't worry about the "what."

Aim to get to the "why" as soon as possible and you'll have a shot at changing someone's world.

Related: 3 Ways to Discover Your Unique Selling Proposition

Jeff Shore

Entrepreneur, Sales Expert and Author; Founder of Shore Consulting

Jeff Shore, of Shore Consulting, is a sought-after sales expert, speaker, author and consultant whose latest book, Be Bold and Win the Sale: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Boost Your Performance, was published by McGraw-Hill Professional in January 2014.

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