The True Meaning of The KISS Method of Selling

You’ve probably heard the expression: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

This is known as the “KISS Method” of selling, but it’s really not a method, a systematic way to get something done.

In a way, it’s an anti-method. Methods tend to consist of technicalities, lots of do’s and don’ts, carefully deployed.

KISS warns us against selling like robots, like techies, delivering talk-a-thons about endless features and benefits that engineers might relish, but that make everyday buyers hit the snooze button.

KISS is very wise. You’ve heard kindred expressions, such as “Don’t outsmart yourself,” and “You can be too smart for your own good.”

Becoming too complicated in our selling style is an occupational hazard that afflicts the experienced pro much more than the novice.

When we’re fresh out of training, we tend to stick to the essentials that we’ve been taught, which have been pared down to basics. By being concise and to the point, we start to experience success, but then we add more and more details to our presentations because we have more stories to tell.

And what was streamlined, economical, and quite effective, becomes cumbersome, and mysteriously–at least to us–our sales results slip.

There is a story told about a harmonica salesman who had a phenomenal first day on the job, setting new records. He was so excited that he was bursting and had to discover more about his product, so he asked a veteran what he knew. The vet said, “All I can tell you that you don’t already know is that the harmonica can only play in one key.”

Legend has it that from that date forward, the new guy never came close to breaking the record he set on his first day. This tale cautions us that we can have too much product knowledge, and this can actually diminish our fervor, our enthusiasm. Once we have such irrelevant details, for some odd reason we feel duty-bound to sandwich them into every presentation we make.

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

Our schooling reveres detail, tiny distinctions, and cognitive complexity. As one of my professors said, the life of an academic is about “learning more and more, about less and less.”

This earns tenure in a university, but it shortens your tenure as a salesperson.

So, be smart and give yourself a nice, big KISS.

“Dumb down” your sales talk. It may be the brainiest and most lucrative thing you’ll ever do.

Dr. Gary S. Goodman © 2005