I am not a salesperson. That is a true fact,* as an editor friend of mine likes to quip.

However, I spent some time with some of the industry’s very talented mattress sales trainers over the past couple of weeks talking about how to sell mattresses. It’s kind of like that Holiday Inn Express marketing campaign. After these conversations, I feel smart enough to maybe sell a mattress now … not really.

It was quite fascinating, and very entertaining, and you can read the results of those conversations in this week’s publication.  As always when I interview sources for stories, I walk away with an abundance of notes and information that doesn’t always find its way into what I’m writing.

This month we kick off a new feature designed for the superstar of home furnishings and sleep retailing, the retail sales associate. Our How to Sell feature will take a look at various product categories and how RSAs can better tackle the selling system of said category.

We started the year off with the bedding segment. It coincides with the Winter Las Vegas Market, typically the market that generates the largest amount of bedding introductions, and we thought it was a nice synergy.

So our panel of mattress selling experts — Dr. V from Miskelly Furniture, Bob Muenkel from Resident Home and Craig Wilson from Kingsdown — shared years of knowledge and incredible advice, but I keep thinking back to the amount of psychology that goes into both the selling of an item and the buying of an item.

We, as consumers, are an emotional sort. We don’t like to feel as if we’re being taken advantage of; we don’t want to appear ignorant in front of others; and we certainly don’t want to make a mistake on any purchase, especially a big ticket one like a mattress.

Once we make the leap into a furniture store, we’re looking for expertise and knowledge. However, we refuse to be patronized and value honest communication. Consumers tend to walk into a retail establishment with their guard up. Think of the last car purchase you made, and yes, consumers liken the mattress shopping experience to the car buying experience.

It can be painful and excruciating, but it doesn’t have to be so.

Tamp down the urge to regurgitate every spec for every mattress on your showroom floor. It’s a turn off, despite what RSAs hear from manufacturers about coil counts, ILDs and memory foam vs. latex; it is like speaking Latin to consumers. The conversation is overwhelming and does little to address the reason(s) consumers are looking to replace their mattress.

Putting consumers at ease in the moment by sharing your knowledge in a non-threatening, confident manner can be the difference in closing the sell or watching the back of a consumer as she walks out the front door and down the street to the next mattress store.

Overcoming their fear of making a mistake and empowering them in their quest for a new mattress and better sleep, can build a long-term relationship in which they return to you for future purchases. Happy selling.

*Before the wordsmiths out there come knocking, yes, all facts are true. It’s just a fun phrase that we like to toss around occasionally for grins. Carry on!

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