My friend Emily called me yesterday with a troubling situation. She explained that her husband Richard, in his mid-50s, recently began wheezing in his sleep. The problem had become so acute that they visited their family doctor, who diagnosed Richard with asthma, prescribed an inhaler and suggested they elevate the head of their mattress to help him sleep more restfully.
I mentioned that it sounded like they would need an adjustable base. Emily said she had asked the doctor about that, but his reply was, “Why would you want to go to all that trouble? Just put some blocks or boards at the top of your bed.”
Why would you want to go to all that trouble? What could possibly go wrong with having blocks and boards holding up your mattress?
In her session earlier this year at the trade show ISPA EXPO, Terry Cralle discussed the gap between the mattress industry, the medical community and the public’s understanding of the value of sleep. Cralle, a registered nurse, certified clinical sleep educator and spokeswoman for the Better Sleep Council, the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association, is uniquely qualified to understand that gap. She treats patients suffering from the ravages of sleep deprivation due to physical conditions and poor sleep surfaces.
Cralle then challenged the bedding industry to address “The Sleep-Health Equation.” “Consumers are at a loss about where and how to learn about sleep,” she told the audience. “Our industry is poised to give them the knowledge and resources they need to know more about sleep, and the more they know about sleep, the more importance they’re going to place on mattresses.”
As a retailer, you see the consequences of poor sleep and sleeplessness every day—all day. You’re uniquely qualified to help customers understand the relationship between a quality mattress, a refreshing night’s sleep and a healthy life.
It starts by asking important questions. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magical list you can check off, but as a retailer, you have to find what works with your personal style and your store’s philosophy. The point is to ask. You can’t help someone if you don’t know the problem. Challenge yourself to not fall into the habit of asking the same set of questions without constantly re-evaluating their usefulness.
Asking qualifying questions is especially critical to help shoppers with health issues. It’s also important to be empathetic about medical conditions that often are hard to talk about, such as weight. (For more about selling to larger consumers, see our feature story, “A Heavy Issue.”)
Asking questions and listening to the answers will lead you to a sale—and improve the quality of someone’s life.
There’s nothing troubling about that.