In the last of a two-part series, we revisit six of the most useful and empowering ideas that have helped mattress sales associates over the years
BY GERRY MORRIS
As I prepare my column for each Sleep Savvy issue, I am burdened by a sense of responsibility to present new, empowering ideas that hopefully will inspire and help retail sales associates to better serve their customers. But, I often catch myself going back to the foundational ideas and suggestions I’ve included in most every seminar, workshop, article and column over the years.
Because I’m still passionate about them and so many readers and RSAs have told me they never tire of being reminded of them, I decided to compile some of my top training ideas in this two-part series. (To read part one, see the May/June issue of Sleep Savvy.)
1 The power of trust: Many factors influence mattress shoppers’ decisions about what and where to buy. These include brand, comfort preference, previous experience, and, of course, price and perceived value. But surprisingly, RSAs who instill trust are often the biggest determinant in their decision, trumping most every other consideration. Studies show that shoppers seeking a particular brand often will switch to another—even one they are unfamiliar with—if they trust and like their RSA. Wow—that should inspire you!
How do you acquire that kind of gravitas? It’s a combination of competence, confidence, integrity and genuine concern for others.
2 The point of product knowledge: Product knowledge is a tool used to facilitate the selling process. RSAs should learn as much as they can about every product, along with the benefits of every specification and feature. The great paradox is the more you know, the less you have to use it. Competent RSAs are perceived by customers as being trustworthy. Shoppers willingly let them lead the way.
Rather than reciting specifications, as if you’re reading a recipe of ingredients, use product knowledge to overcome objections by adding value. This is best done by focusing on benefits over features. “You’ll be able to sleep in one place longer because the high-density convoluted foam in this mattress” is more persuasive than “This one costs more because it has high-density convoluted foam in it.”
3 Switching focus from product to person: Most people don’t particularly like mattress shopping, but everyone wants to sleep well and feel good. Therefore, focusing both your attention and your shoppers’ attention on themselves will change the dynamics of the selling process for the better.
Before we get started, let’s talk about you for a moment. What is your experience shopping for a mattress, your experience with your current mattress and what are your expectations for a new one?
As shoppers lie down, instead of asking, “How does this mattress feel to you?” try, “How do you feel on this mattress?” Bingo. This subtle change helps shoppers realize that it’s not the product itself that is important—it’s how it makes them feel.
4 Stepping up and down: RSAs encounter some shoppers who have settled on lower-priced models, and they need to help them step up to better quality. Other shoppers start at the top and want to step down. RSAs must be equipped with product knowledge and selling skills to guide both types of shoppers through the process.
When stepping up to better quality, maximize the differences between models by focusing on the benefits first then the specifications or features to help justify the cost.
This model will provide even greater restorative sleep by adding more quality comfort layers and a stronger support system.
When stepping down, maximize the similarities between models, focusing more on the features or specifications to help shoppers feel they aren’t sacrificing too much.
This is also a great model. In fact, it has a lot of the same components with only a few different comfort layers. It may be a better choice for you.
5 Don’t sell comfort: For one thing, comfort can’t be sold—people either like the way a mattress feels or they don’t. But the real point here is to understand that shoppers have little else to go by other than comfort and cost until the RSA gets involved. It’s important to explain the two foundational qualities of a mattress to consider: support and durability. Explain that initial comfort can be deceiving. What may feel good for a few minutes in the showroom may not feel so great over the course of the night. If someone is accustomed to a firm mattress, adjusting to a soft one will take longer.
6 Walk your talk: The single best selling tool of all is to have personally experienced the benefits of sleeping on a comfortable, quality mattress yourself and sincerely wanting your shoppers to do the same. Imagine that each person you speak to may never have that experience unless you help her choose to invest in a quality product. Make it your mission to help as many people as possible, and you will reap rewards far beyond monetary ones.
Quick tip: Instead of asking what feel shoppers are looking for, try asking, “Are you familiar with the three basic comfort levels?” This allows you to lead rather than just respond.
These ideas have helped many RSAs better serve their shoppers while increasing their sales and income. Incorporate them into your selling process, and you will turn many wary shoppers into satisfied customers.
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. 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.” To view the course, visit www.furnituretrainingcompany.com.