BY STEVEN KING
If you want to sell better bedding, differentiate yourself
In 2007, I published a book, Money in the Mattress: The Sales Associates’ Guide to Premium Mattress Sales. It still sells well on Amazon.com. During the time I spent researching and writing the book, I visited many mattress retailers and spoke with a lot of retail sales associates and store managers. They all looked alike—the stores, not the staff.
Nearly every retailer I visited—from the big chains to small local shops—lined up its mattresses in neat straight rows not unlike Chiclets in a box. Each RSA who greeted me worked hard to distinguish his store from all the others he thought I had visited in the area: A tough assignment when the stores all looked alike.
To make matters worse, most RSAs, managers and store owners have looked at the same four walls for so long, they can no longer see the Chiclets from the mattresses from the pillows from the protectors and pads.
Here is the bottom line: What are the chances of upselling your customer and convincing her to spend $3,000 on a premium mattress when your store looks like all the others? Particularly after she went through a full-court press in the last two stores she visited?
To sell a $3,000 mattress, you need to look like an upscale retailer. To the untrained eye, what does a flawless $250,000 Tiffany diamond look like in the case of a pawn shop? Not quite so brilliant, right?
How things have changed
Recently, I went shopping for a new mattress. It’s been awhile. I’ve been sleeping on a latex bed and have been happy with it for years. And though I wrote Money in the Mattress and spent many years in the specialty sleep retail business, I left five years ago to pursue other business interests.
In search of a new bed set, my wife and I visited some local mattress retailers, and I must report some things have changed since I bought my last mattress. I noticed that some retailers actually have realized that if they consider themselves different, they need to look different.
Two stores (out of six we visited) had rearranged the mattresses on their floors to look like bedrooms, with accent furniture surrounding the beds and attractive artwork adorning the walls. The displays were inviting and even, dare I say, comfortable. These stores looked better than the other guys, you know, more upscale.
My wife and I selected a beautiful, comfortable king-size mattress that the three of us (yes, three) will enjoy for many years. We bought it from one of the two “different” stores and not from the other guys, although two of the other guys offered it. They looked like the first store we visited, the one that “took our keys” and would not allow us to leave until the manager spoke to us.
Do you want to upsell to more of your customers? Make sure you look like you do and your customers will have the confidence to spend the necessary money on a premium mattress. (Oh, and the third “person” on our mattress is Malka, our Goldendoodle.) ●
Steven King is an accomplished author and business counselor based in Fort Myers, Fla. His book, Money in the Mattress: The Sales Associates’ Guide to Premium Mattress Sales, is available from Amazon.com. King can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.