By understanding the vital role restorative rest plays in health, sales associates can help customers make the best choice for their specific needs
We are in the sleep business, let’s be clear about it. In our arsenal we have a variety of tools assembled to solve sleep problems. Some of our tools are mattresses, pillows, adjustable bases, sheets, pillowcases and bed frames, to name a few.
The skills a retail sales associate develops and hones are invaluable. Your job — every time you have an opportunity — is to discover the needs of your customers, including problems they are experiencing with their mattress, and alleviate those issues by recommending the appropriate solutions from your tool selection.
To start, you need to understand the important role sleep plays in our health. Nothing we do on a daily basis impacts our health more than sleep and hydration. I’ll focus on sleep in this article.
Why sleep matters
Our bodies are a marvel of science and chemistry, evolved over millions of years. We have robust systems that keep us alive. The circulatory system supplies every cell with the nutrients it must have. The liver and kidneys remove toxins from our blood, and the lymphatic system — present throughout our bodies, except our brains — removes waste from our blood and assists in its elimination. Our brains are not part of the lymphatic system: They use a more sophisticated method for clearing out toxins.
Over millions of years, our brains grew in size to occupy a larger portion of our skulls. Ways of keeping the brain clean and sharp evolved, as well. Today, the process of rejuvenating our synopses and neurons — the nerves responsible for life, thought and good health — needs to occur nightly, and it does while we sleep. Here is the kicker: It only occurs when we reach deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
When we sleep, we pass through four stages, the last being REM sleep. During this stage, our heartbeat slows, our blood pressure drops and our body relaxes. Our brain continues to monitor our organs and body functions. When we reach REM sleep, a miracle happens: Cerebrospinal fluid floods our brain, circulates and cleanses its neurons. This process occurs approximately every 90 minutes when we sleep.
Ever been out most of the night drinking, dancing, having fun and then crashing into bed only to wake up with a doozy of a headache? I have! Not only did I have a headache, but the room was spinning and my eyes had difficulty focusing. The main reason for all this mayhem was that the consumption of excessive alcohol — a depressant — altered the brain cleansing process. As a result, I never reached REM sleep, so I robbed my brain of its nightly cleaning and the ability to function properly. Additionally, alcohol alters the brain’s processing power, also inhibiting REM sleep.
Why a mattress matters
So, you say, “Great information, Steven, but what does all this have to do with mattresses?” Everything! Selecting the proper sleeping system — a combination of mattress, base (box spring, adjustable or platform), support frame, pillow etc. — is crucial for REM sleep. By demonstrating to customers you’re knowledgeable and skilled at guiding them toward a good night’s sleep, you’ll assure them they have found the perfect person to help them work toward restorative rest.
Your customer is a side sleeper and looks to be about 6′4″, 280 pounds. This guy needs a substantial mattress capable of providing the support he requires, as well as sufficient comfort to eliminate or minimize his limbs “falling asleep.” This tingling sensation occurs when blood circulation to a limb is restricted. If the mattress is too hard, and he is sleeping on his side, it’s likely his hand soon will tingle. Our brains, always monitoring our bodies, detect the decreased circulation and call for moving to a different position. Before long, because the mattress is too firm, we are moving again and again, never quite getting to REM sleep.
A couple comes in. He sleeps on his back and suffers from acid reflux, and his wife says his snoring is keeping her awake. For both of them to reach REM sleep, they need an adjustable base. The price of many basic bases has come down and become much more affordable than they were a decade ago. Nevertheless, you probably will get an occasional price pushback. To those customers, I would explain the importance of sleep and the role quality sleep plays in their daily lives. I would follow up by saying: “When I am in the market for a good doctor or a lawyer, I look for a professional who will increase my chances of a positive outcome. Sometimes, that is not the cheapest person on the street. In the case of a doctor, my life and good health depends on my selection.”
Yes, quality sleep is that important to good health. Numerous studies have concluded that poor sleeping habits contribute to and, in some cases, are a direct cause of Alzheimer’s, heart disease, mental fatigue and more. As an RSA, you should feel fortunate you’re in a position to help affect people’s health through sleep. We spend a third of our lives sleeping. By the time we reach age 45, we’ve spent 15 years sleeping. Pretty amazing when you consider it: Nothing we do to improve our health is as important — nothing.
Steven King has spent more than two decades in the bedding industry. He has written numerous articles and an award-winning book, “Money in the Mattress: The Sales Associate’s Guide to Premium Mattress Sales.” It’s available on Amazon.com. You can contact King at firstname.lastname@example.org.