Digital Marketing

The true meaning of the KISS sales method

You’ve probably heard the expression: Keep it simple, stupid!

This is known as the “KISS Method” of selling, but it is not really a method, a systematic way of doing something.

In a way, it is an anti-method. Methods tend to be technicalities, lots of dos and don’ts, carefully implemented.

KISS cautions us against selling like robots, like technicians, offering talks about endless features and benefits that engineers can enjoy, but that have everyday shoppers hit the snooze button.

KISS is very wise. You have heard related expressions such as “Don’t be smarter than yourself” and “You may be too smart for your own good.”

Being too complicated in our selling style is an occupational hazard that afflicts the seasoned professional far more than the novice.

When we first come out of training, we tend to stick to the essentials that we have been taught, which have been reduced to the basics. By being concise and to the point, we start to experience success, but then we add more and more detail to our presentations because we have more stories to tell.

And what was simplified, inexpensive and quite effective, becomes cumbersome and mysteriously, at least for us, our sales results slip.

A story is told about a harmonica salesman who had a phenomenal first day at work, setting new records. He was so excited that he was about to explode and had to find out more about his product, so he asked a veteran what he knew. The vet said, “All I can tell you that you don’t know yet is that the harmonica can only be played in one key.”

Legend has it that from that date on, the new boy was never close to breaking the record he set on his first day. This story warns us that we can have too much knowledge of the product, and this can diminish our fervor, our enthusiasm. Once we have such irrelevant details, for some strange reason we feel compelled to include them in every presentation we make.

The only problem with KISS is that it sounds insulting, especially to contemporary, well-educated salespeople and trainees.

Our education reveres details, small distinctions, and cognitive complexity. As one of my professors said, the life of an academic consists of “learning more and more, less and less”.

This grants you tenure at a university, but shortens your tenure as a salesperson.

So, be smart and give yourself a big KISS.

“Simplify” your sales talk. It may be the smartest and most lucrative thing you will ever do.

Dr. Gary S. Goodman © 2005

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