Are your personal preferences and comfort zones keeping you from selling mattresses effectively? Follow these suggestions for overcoming your biases
BY GERRY MORRIS
Retail sales associates can and often do develop selling habits, personal preferences and comfort zones that can have a negative influence on what products they show and sell. They may never realize it until something prompts their awareness.
These issues lie hidden in the subconscious of RSAs—from rookies to veterans. We all are influenced to some degree by our personal preferences and experiences. But the danger is they can have an unintended effect on our decisions and actions.
Please don’t be offended. In most every sales-training session I’ve ever conducted, I address this issue. Even top producers with stellar integrity and servants’ hearts have confessed to me that they are guilty as charged but never realized it.
It may be subtle in some cases and extreme in others, but unless RSAs consciously examine their selling approach, they may negatively influence the choices their shoppers make.
The problem is that many shoppers end up buying mattresses that may not be as suited for them as others, but they never know the difference. In addition, I’ve seen some really great mattresses and even some brands get dropped from sales floors because of the behavior patterns of the sales staff.
What causes this sinister menace? Actually, it’s not sinister at all. There are two benign factors—the proliferation of choices and human nature.
Personal preferences cover myriad choices in most every aspect of our lives and are the driving forces behind the proliferation of choices in consumer products. Spurred on by competition and desire for market share, manufacturers of most every consumer product have expanded their selections to accommodate the variety of preferences. Mattresses are no exception.
When I first became a mattress rep, many small dealers offered a simple “good, better, best” selection. Most larger stores had no more than 20 or 30 models to choose from. No one could have imagined floors with 50, 60, 70 or more models, yet now that is not uncommon.
Hence, human nature enters the equation. We all are prone to take the course of least resistance. RSAs begin to rely on their own tastes, preferences and experiences to sort through what can be an overwhelming task for themselves and even more so for shoppers. It’s not easy to learn product knowledge, features and benefits, as well as master the skills required to explain so many models.
Let’s take a closer look at these issues and some suggestions for how to overcome them.
Habits and patterns
Beginning the sales process by introducing each shopper to the same models is a habit in itself. If your store uses this as a part of its selling system, you must follow it. But from there, you should have options of what mattresses you show. Ask a thorough series of questions to discover your shoppers’ personal preferences without imposing your own on them.
It is axiomatic that nothing breeds success like success. RSAs who find mattresses they like—their “go-to” beds—show them most often and then get really good at presenting them. That success can become contagious and soon an entire sales staff may jump on the bandwagon, creating fabricated best-sellers.
I’ve had many RSAs confess that they felt like some of the higher-priced models were just too expensive. “There is no way I’d ever spend that much on a mattress.” Even some successful veterans have told me they didn’t think high-end mattresses were worth the money.
Is it any wonder they felt uncomfortable showing expensive models? Therefore, they either didn’t show them or they did so with little confidence. Needless to say, they didn’t sell many, confirming their opinion.
One RSA told me she couldn’t sell firm mattresses very well. She didn’t know why because she had shoppers looking for them. She was skilled at sales, well versed in all her product knowledge and felt she was doing and saying all the right things.
I asked her what she slept on. “A pillow top,” she said. “Do you like firm beds?” I asked. “Every time I sleep on one it hurts my shoulders,” she replied.
Her negative experiences on firm beds tainted her presentations. Once she became aware that her prejudice was “curbing her enthusiasm,” she overcame her difficulties and elevated her selling skills and effectiveness.
Reality and judgments
A very helpful concept to understand is the difference between reality and judgments on reality. There is no right or wrong to personal preference. There are no good or bad, comfortable or uncomfortable mattresses. They simply exist as they are, and each person applies his or her judgment to them.
The good news
The good news is that of all the obstacles that RSAs must overcome to be more effective, this is an easy fix. Simply becoming aware of your behavior patterns often is all it takes.
It doesn’t matter what mattresses you like or don’t like or whether you think they’re too expensive or too cheap. Just remain totally objective and on a personal mission to discover models that suit your shoppers—whichever they may be.
With that in mind, the next step is to go back and systematically relearn all your floor models. Take the time to lie on each one and focus on how they feel—not whether you like them or not—and then study the specifications to learn why they feel the way they do. This is a lengthy, ongoing process but well worth the effort.
Only then will you be able to comfortably navigate the entire sales floor, be able to confidently show and sell any given model, and, consequently, be of more service to your shoppers.
Most RSAs find it liberating to become aware of how their subliminal attitudes sabotage sales. From that new vantage point most go on to increase their sales, along with customer satisfaction. You can do the same.
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.