BY GERRY MORRIS
Just looking? Oh no!
Consider these 8 ideas to increase the odds of making a sale to those determined to shop around and compare
“We need a mattress, but this is our first stop and we want to shop around and compare.”
These are not only some of the most dreaded words heard by mattress retail sales associates, but also some of the most familiar. RSAs have grown to expect shoppers to, well, shop. Unfortunately for the first store on the list, that’s not good news.
It’s the nature of the beast on high-use, utilitarian “need” products such as tires, appliances and mattresses: Average consumers place “bang for their buck”—or getting a good deal—high on their priority list. Couple that with the multitude of choices, stores, brands and models available and it’s easy to understand why people want to comparison shop.
The following eight ideas can help you sell to those shoppers who are beginning their purchasing mission.
1. Adjust your attitude.
The first step in the process is to accept the reality without judgment. First-stop mattress shoppers likely will want to shop around. I know I do. It’s neither good nor bad. Cliché time: “It is what it is” so don’t be disappointed or discouraged.
Also, don’t accept the premise that these shoppers will leave without buying. While that may be their intentions, some will change their minds.
Approaching shoppers as if they will buy from you can increase dramatically the number that do.
Consider how different your attitude and approach would be with someone you believed was not going to buy, as opposed to someone you believed definitely was going to buy. Which do you think would be more compelling and endearing to the
Quick tip: Make sure everything is in place every day. Put your best foot forward. Many people leave stores because they saw something they didn’t like.
2. Establish a relationship.
Shoppers don’t have a “relationship” on their radar screen. They view mattress shopping as a one-time purchase. Many RSAs see it the same way. But understand that even if that is the case, RSAs are one of the greatest determining factors influencing shoppers’ buying decisions.
Trust is the key element. People want to buy from someone they like, trust and believe has genuine concern for their well-being. The subliminal message customers receive is that if an RSA is diligent, caring and helpful, the company probably is, too.
3. Empower the shopper.
Employ a technique called guided discovery to “partner in the process” with the shopper. It incorporates goal-oriented conversations using open-ended questions to engage shoppers and give them confidence in their purchase by actively including them in the process.
One of the best questions to begin the qualifying process may surprise you and your shoppers, as well. “How do you feel about shopping for and buying a mattress?” This disarming question opens the door to change the dynamics of the entire experience. Most will drop their guard and admit a lack of enthusiasm about buying and trepidation about shopping. A great response is “I understand how you feel. That’s how most people feel. I know how to help you narrow down the choices so that you can pick one you really like.”
Engaging shoppers to this degree dramatically increases the likelihood of them buying from you, even if they do shop elsewhere. Unfortunately, few RSAs are equipped or motivated to invest in shoppers to this degree, especially ones that they believe aren’t buying.
Without enough information, most shoppers will base their buying decision on comfort and price. You must educate them on support and durability—the two vital qualities of a mattress that can’t be perceived and must be explained. They are the hidden elements that increase the cost of the mattress for the benefit of the consumer. Many RSAs take the course of least resistance; if the shopper likes it, they sell it to them.
Don’t forget to explain the benefits of restorative sleep facilitated by a comfortable, quality mattress, along with the detrimental effects of poor quality sleep. Better quality mattresses provide longer sustained periods of quality sleep.
5. Switch focus.
While it sounds counterintuitive, changing your motivation from making a sale can help you make more sales. Approach every shopper with the motive of serving. Make it your mission to help as many people as possible choose to buy for their own benefit. People can perceive motive: If your goal is to make sales, that means they are just the means by which you can achieve your goal.
6. Engage the emotions.
Encourage shoppers to take the time to get the feel of the mattress they select. Have them lie in the position they normally wake up in and then have them imagine it’s late, they’re tired and have to wake up early. Getting a glimpse of what life could be like with a specific product is the most powerful motivator compelling people to buy.
7. Close the sale.
Finally, it is imperative to try to close the sale. Consider it a complete waste of time—yours and your customers’—not to sell them a mattress. They need one, they are going to buy and you both have invested the time to find one that will make them happy. What a shame it is to have a shopper go through the process all over again and end up buying elsewhere.
If a shopper is determined to leave, offer an incentive to come back and buy—whether it’s free delivery, a discount or some accessories. Explain that you will value her business and hope she will return because you are confident she selected a great product. If she says, “Will you honor it if I go ahead and buy now?” of course, you say “Yes!” Nothing wrong with that, but make sure you OK it with management and that you are consistent with all your shoppers.
One last note
A worthy goal is to educate and equip the shoppers who choose to leave so they will be more likely to invest in a quality product and leave with a favorable opinion of you, your store and your products. Doing the right thing for the right reason always pays off in the long run.
Sleep well and help others do the same!
Gerry Morris is an author, consultant and training coach with more than 20 years of experience in the mattress industry. His latest book, “Mattress Matters,” is available at SellMoreBeds.com. Morris’ Inner Spring training company has a strategic partnership with The Furniture Training Co. to offer a premium online training course, “Sell More Mattresses with Gerry Morris.” For more information, check the website.