Replace your sales associate’s sagging excuses and you will replace more of your shoppers sagging beds with brand new bedding!
2012 promises to be another good year for the bedding segment. However, as always, ground-level retail sales associates (RSA’s) are leaving opportunities and dollars on the table by not converting shoppers to buyers. In my travels over the past several weeks, I have made it a practice to ask RSAs how their bedding business is doing.
I can tell you that every RSA is selling something. Some are selling mattresses, and others are selling excuses for their lack of success. It happens quite often that our RSAs and even our managers believe that there are more reasons why we can’t sell mattresses instead of reasons that we should sell mattresses.
Here are some of the most common explanations for substandard mattress sales production. See if you have heard any of these before.
We don’t get many mattress customers shopping here!
Chances are, if your full service furniture store faces significant competition from large bedding chains, most of your customers will be asking to see items other than mattresses. Even so, it is important to remember that almost every shopper that walks in or calls you needs a new mattress. New bedding is one of the most delayed purchases in households across the nation. RSAs who make it a point to ask every customer about their bedding needs will show and sell more bedding. Even to their dining room customers! Even to their living room customers! And especially to their recliner customers, who prize comfort above all else! Create and train your team on a transitional phrase that helps your shopper become aware of their bedding needs.Our store is surrounded by mattress specialty stores!
Nobody wants to have a store out in the desert, or in an empty shopping center. Having mattress stores in your area will bring mattress shoppers into your store. And when they are ignored, abused, misinformed, and otherwise hoodwinked elsewhere, chances are that they may wander into one of your stores looking for a mattress. Make it a practice to shop your neighbors, and shop ‘em often. Know what they are doing well and where they are failing. You will learn the many ways you can beat them, and then sell with confidence.
Our store’s spiffs aren’t big enough!
If you saw a $100 bill on the street and picked it up, you would feel like it was YOUR LUCKY DAY! Here is what I found in three different stores that I visited in Q4-2011. There was a Full-Line Furniture Store that offered a $100 extra spiffs on bedding sales, and only three RSAs bothered to fill out the form to receive it. In one area, over $10,000 worth of prizes from an ongoing contest were left unclaimed. Another store increased its bedding compensation and experienced a drop in bedding sales. We like to think that BIG SPIFFS motivate RSAs to sell bedding-but it is not a global truth. Make the decision today to be customer focused and not commission focused. Encourage your team to help the customer select the bed that’s best for the customer, not the bed with the highest spiff. You and they will see sales (and earnings) soar!
If I had FREE DELIVERY, I would sell more mattresses!
The fact is that no delivery is cost free. Today’s customer understands that the price of the delivery is hidden somewhere. However, chances are that your store delivers mattresses at no additional cost. If your delivery charge is a “Stop” Charge, or Flat Rate Charge, it costs the customer no additional funds to get a mattress set delivered with their dining or living room order. If your customer is paying $59-109 for a delivery, no matter how many pieces, doesn’t it make sense for them to get as many items on one sales order as possible?
If we had mattresses in stock I would sell more mattresses!
Some shoppers need a new mattress tomorrow, but most shoppers are not prepared to take delivery of a mattress right away. Smart RSAs determine the shopper’s time frame early in the sales presentation so they don’t lose the sale at the counter. And if your customer needs the mattress now, concentrate on those clearance models that nobody seems to sell. I suggest that you ask your customer “If we found the perfect mattress for you, with the comfort, support, and price that you love, could you wait 5 or 7 days for it?” You’ll be surprised how many customer will wait the extra time.
My customer just bought a mattress two years ago!
The day your shopper buys a new TV, they think about buying the next bigger size. The day they drive home in a new car, they think about buying that next SUV. When your customer says they just bought a mattress two years ago, ask them “Do you still LOVE IT?” If they don’t love it, if they aren’t sleeping great, it’s time for a new one.
My customer’s credit limit wasn’t high enough for the mattress!
Your RSA closes a sales order for $2,200. Your customer applies for credit and is approved for $2,000. What are your options. Ask your sales team that question and be prepared to hear “I’d just take one item off the order.” It is still very acceptable to ask for money down! People who shop and buy are expecting to spend money. It’s ok to ask the customer to pay the difference up front. Don’t give up that hard earned extra item!
This isn’t the mattress selling season!
I have heard of Baseball Season, Football Season, Ski Season, Boating Season, Duck Season, and Rabbit Season. Mattresses go bad and need replacement every day of the year. Even Christmas, Easter, and New Year’s Day. Every Day is selling season. Change the mindset and count the money.
Our prices are too high!
There are no winners in the race to zero. I don’t want to be the store with the cheapest mattress in town. If you are getting this excuse from your sales team, it sounds like it’s time for a thorough Bedding Comp Shop. Develop a designated process for shopping bedding competitors and require your RSAs to conduct one shopping trip a month. Don’t allow your store to be beat on any product, and always compare offers and terms straight up. If the grass looks better on the other side of the street, they probably are just using more fertilizer!
My customer already has a mattress!
The most common reason for not adding the new mattress to a bedroom sale is, “My customer already has a mattress”. Retail experience tells me that 85% of all furniture shoppers sleep on a worn-out, non-supportive, substandard mattress. That same experience tells me that 99% of your customers already have a mattress. Just because they have one, doesn’t mean they don’t need a new one! 99% of TV buyers have a TV that plays, 98% of Car Buyers have a car that drives, and 97% of smart phone buyers have a phone that communicates. Those retailers expect their shoppers to trade up. You should expect the same!
You need your sales team to sell! But don’t let them sell you on a bill of goods. Replace those sagging excuses with plans for results and you will be replacing your shoppers sagging beds with Brand New Bedding from your store!
Gordon Hecht is Senior Manager-In Store Concepts for Serta Simmons Bedding Company, introducing and expanding bedding business in conventional and non-traditional venues. He started his 30+ years experience in the Home Furnishings industry in Las Vegas, NV as a delivery helper and driver and later served in sales, retail management and consulting roles.
Read other articles by Gordon Hecht