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October 2011

The cover story

Setting up sales associates for success

RETAIL ROAD TRIP

Southern Pines, NC, Duxiana boutique pairs luxury beds and linens BE MY GUEST

Keeping good people isn’t just about money CLOSING WORDS

Customers are judging you in the blink of an eye


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IN THIS ISSUE where to find it

14

THE COVER STORY

setting up mattress sales associates for success Mattress Firm’s Craig McAndrews and Derek LaHair offer proven techniques and tips for creating a learning environment that keeps mattress RSAs informed, engaged and effective.

3

WAKE UP CALL

5

SNOOZE NEWS

31

from the editor’s desk

A mattress shopping excursion over Labor Day spotlights some of the best and worse of the customer experience.

stuff you can use

Better Sleep Council debuts three online videos that retailers can use for free; six ways your personal brand can go wrong; sleep deprivation is turning us into zombies; baby boomers see themselves as still young; mattress sales rose 6% in July; insomnia costs U.S. billions each year; deep sleep keeps blood pressure down...and more.

BE MY GUEST by Harry J. Friedman

Productivity-based pay is the way to go, but keeping good people isn’t just about the money.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

33 35 37

BACK TALK supporting customer dreams

Six great talking points for mattress RSAs, including: “Did you know you use your mattress more than any other piece of furniture in your home?”

CONSUMER CHECK profiling your customer

New Cone survey reveals the growing power of online reviews to sway shoppers, especially for a big-ticket purchase.

CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris Customers judge us in the blink of an eye. What are they concluding about your store?

25

RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene Tanda and Neal Jarest paired luxury beds with luxury linens when they opened Duxiana at The Mews in the resort town of Southern Pines, NC.

SleepSavvy • October 2011

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SleepSavvy The magazine for sleep products professionals

Editor in Chief Nancy Butler 828-299-7420 nbutler@sleepproducts.org Associate Editor Barbara Nelles 336-856-8973 bnelles@sleepproducts.org Contributors Sally Hogshead Harry J. Friedman Gerry Morris Creative Director Stephanie Belcher The Jimmydog Design Group Vice President of Advertising Sales Kerri Bellias 336-945-0265 kbellias@sleepproducts.org Advertising Production Manager Debbie Robbins 571-482-5443 drobbins@sleepproducts.org Circulation Manager Mary Rulli 336-491-0443 mrulli@sleepproducts.org Copy Editor Margaret Talley-Seijn Vol. 10, No. 7 ISSN 1538-702X Sleep Savvy is published 8 times a year by the International Sleep Products Association, 501 Wythe St., Alexandria, Virginia 22314-1917. Phone 703-683-8371. Fax 703-683-4503. Website: www.sleepsavvymagazine.com. Sleep Savvy editorial office: 15 E. Hawthorne Dr., Asheville, North Carolina 28805. Phone 828-299-7420. Fax 703-683-4503. Advertising services: 1613 Country Club Dr., Reidsville, North Carolina 27320. Phone 571-482-5443. Fax 703-683-4503. Please send subscription orders and changes to: Sleep Savvy, P.O. Box 4678, Archdale, North Carolina 27263 or fax 703-683-4503. Subscription policy & rates Retailers: All U.S. retailers qualify for free subscriptions, up to 5 per location. In Canada, $10 per year; all other countries, $30. Manufacturers, suppliers and others: ISPA member company personnel qualify for complimentary subscriptions, subject to restrictions. Nonmembers and others: $30 U.S., $40 non-U.S. ©2011 by the International Sleep Products Association. No portion of the content may be reprinted without permission from Sleep Savvy. Printed in the U.S.A.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

WAKE UP CALL from the editor

I actually went mattress shopping over Labor Day

M

y neighbors were recently injured in a car accident and serendipitously needed someone to solve a mattress problem. I must admit to having something of a “super hero” moment when I discovered this— Have no fear, mattress woman is here! So, Labor Day Saturday, I happily went off to four stores to use my expertise in purchasing a midpriced queen set that would suit a rotation of guest caregivers, then become a “big boy bed” for their son. I wasn’t under cover for the experience, but was nevertheless treated to some of the best and worst of mattress shopping. My first stop was a sleep shop where the manager/RSA knows me. A great guy—engaging and knows his stuff (he reads Sleep Savvy religiously). He did an excellent job of showing me leading-brand products in my price range and was just plain fun to talk to. Never, ever underestimate the power of the latter! My second stop was another sleep shop where I was enthusiastically greeted by the manager/RSA with an “I know you!” We’d met when she worked at another store. Believe me, a memory for faces is a skill worth cultivating! We enjoyed a good gab— of the type only women can do with each other—then took the tour. One model stood out. The specs were a cut above, the comfort/support balance very good and the price (with the usual holiday sale discounts) was right. The attention to detail made an impression (this happens, consciously or subconsciously, with most women). In my mind, I saw the model that best fit the bill in the first store. The knit cover was starting to pill; there were

no handles. The “out the door” price on that one was about $50 lower. But point for point on value? No contest. On to sleep shop number three, where they’re having a blow-out Labor Day sale-a-thon complete with banners and balloons. The place is packed, due no doubt to the aggressive advertising they’d been doing. I am greeted by an RSA with this: “We’ll beat anybody’s price!” He looks at my business card in bewilderment. When I tell him what I’m looking for, the only word he seems to hear is “guest” because he points me to the back where the cheap stuff is and zips off, presumably to find greener pastures. I wander about, noticing that most of the price tags have been handwritten in bold magic marker to suggest that these are big, “today only” markdowns. The problem is that the prices I’m looking at are no bargain compared to the other two stores. Do people really fall for this kind of smoke and mirrors? Utterly turned off, I left and went to a nearby furniture store where, I’m sorry to say, I was not greeted at all during the 10 minutes I was there. Based on the few mattresses I saw, it also looked like this store had abdicated the profitable mattress category. Sigh. I’ll leave you to figure out what and where I bought. And why.

nbutler@sleepproducts.org SleepSavvy • October 2011

3


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SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use

NEW Better Sleep Council videos now available on YouTube

The Better Sleep Council (BSC) has produced three engaging new educational videos starring Council spokeswoman Lissa Coffey. Designed to support mattress sales regardless of brand, they’re available for retailer use. “Retailers can easily link the videos to their own websites or embed them,” says BSC Communications Director Karin Mahoney. “They’re also free to download them and play them in their stores.” Mahoney says that creative use of the videos is encouraged, as long as it doesn’t appear that Coffey or the BSC are endorsing or promoting any specific brand, company or product. For more information, contact her by email at kmahoney@sleepproducts.org.

People don’t care how much you know until they know

Creating a sleep sanctuary

Bedroom bliss for couples

Mattress buying tips

All three videos are available on these sites: ➤ BSC YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/bettersleepcouncil ➤ BSC consumer information website: www.bettersleep.org. The Better Sleep Council is the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association.

how much

you care.

— Theodore Roosevelt

So, they couldn’t afford delivery?

Yes, that’s a Lamborghini (left) and a Porsche (right) being used to convey mattresses—both spotted on YouTube. We don’t know if those were new products or used, but you’d think these well-heeled luxury car owners could spring for delivery or a small rental truck. Times must be tough.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • October 2011

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SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

Better Sleep Council’s back-to-school survey results—U.S. and U.K., too

A

s kids headed back to school this fall, the U.S. Better Sleep Council teamed up with the U.K. Sleep Council to survey parents’ attitudes about the importance of sleep in their children’s lives. The results were alarming! Only 45% of U.S. parents and a just 22% of U.K. parents believe their children earn better grades when they get more sleep, showing a surprising lack of awareness of the role sleep plays in school performance. However, a majority of U.S. parents (85%) said that their kids seem crabbier when getting less sleep during the school year, while less than half (44%) of U.K. parents said that was a problem. Both the U.S. and U.K. councils are alerting parents that sufficient nightly sleep is an important factor in classroom success. Tips for parents include: ✓ Remove electronics from the bedroom or establish an electronics curfew an hour before bedtime. ✓M  ake sure the bedroom is cool and quiet. ✓T  ry to get the child into a routine. ✓E  ncourage 30 minutes of exercise daily. ✓T  alk with your child about the day, ask bout fears and concerns and offer reassurance. ✓C  heck the quality of your child’s mattress. If it is seven years old or older, replacing it may be vital to improving the sleep environment. The BSC is the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA). To learn more, visit www.bettersleep.org. The Sleep Council is funded by the National Bed Federation, a trade association for British manufacturers. To learn more, visit www.sleepcouncil.org.uk. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

6

ways your personal brand can go horribly wrong

By Sally Hogshead

I

confess: Although I frequently speak on the topic of personal branding, I’ve always had a secret issue with it. It’s always felt just a bit…hmm…well, shallow. At best, personal branding is a helpful set of principles for those who need a self-promotional jumpstart, such as a recent college grad, or a salesperson start-

ing a new role. At worst, personal branding can lead to a manipulated persona. In some cases, the pursuit of personal branding not only doesn’t help— it can actually damage your reputation. I propose we need something more. I’m working on a new system to identify and maximize your natural personality strengths. I call it your “PERSONALITY brand.” (More on that below.) Regular personal branding is a good start to a career. But after a certain point, we outgrow it. Relationships must be built on more than making the right impression.

Do any of the following 6 pitfalls fit your personal brand?

6 5 4 3 2

 our personal brand is artificially manufactured, rather than a Y living, breathing part of your personality. Your personal brand isn’t based on who you are, but rather, what your audience wants you to be.  our personal brand strategies are based on a set of one-sizeY fits-all techniques. (Which is ironic, since the point of a personal brand is to be seen as unique.)  our personal brand is stagnant, not evolving with your Y career.  our personal brand is designed to maximize your profit rather Y than serving your purpose.

Each of these 5 mistakes is a surefire way to build an inauthentic brand (not to mention inauthentic relationships). But here’s biggest potential mistake:

1

 etting so wrapped up in building a personal brand that you forG get your own natural personality.

Never, ever sacrifice your personality for your personal brand. If you want to fascinate customers, the answer is to become more of the extraordinary person you already are. Check out my new personality assessment at www.howtofascinate.com. Sally Hogshead is a speaker and author specializing in how to persuade and captivate people. Her book Fascinate has been translated into 14 languages and more than 50,000 people have taken her F-Score personality test at www.FScoreTest.com. Visit Sally at www.sallyhogshead. com and www.facebook.com/howtofascinate.

SleepSavvy • October 2011

7


SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

Sleep loss is ‘turning us into zombies’

O

ver the past year, The Huffington Post has dedicated a lot of important coverage to the subject of sleep deprivation. It’s a personal campaign on the part of publisher Arianna Huffington, who said in a recent blog: “The scientific research is in: not getting enough sleep is bad for you in a million different ways. Lack of sleep leads to increased risk of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, weakened immune system, anxiety, depression and heart disease—the risk for which

goes up more for women than for men. Sleep deprivation is also involved in one of every six fatal car crashes. It is, literally, killing us. And when it’s not killing us, it’s merely turning us into zombies. It’s no coincidence, for example, that sleep deprivation is a key strategy of many cults. They force members to stay awake for extended periods because it degrades their decisionmaking ability and makes them more open to persuasion. And it’s not just decision-

OOPS!

A Las Vegas Market report in the September Sleep Savvy quoted an incorrect suggested retail price for Anatomic Global’s new adjustable base program. The correct suggested retail in queen for the new adjustable base is $1,450.

making that suffers, but also memory and creativity. Sleep deprivation severely affects relational memory, which is the brain’s ability to combine and synthesize distinct facts. It’s the sort of thinking that allows us to see the big picture and solve problems with creative and innovative breakthroughs. At the moment, the world is facing multiple crises. Many brilliant leaders with extremely high IQs have made terrible decisions, both in government and in business. What’s been missing is not IQ but wisdom—and sleep is our ticket to wisdom. Even more important than doing what’s best for ourselves and our careers, the world is in desperate need of big

ideas. And there are many, many of them locked inside of us. We just need to close our eyes to see them.” Applause to the Huff Post for championing the importance of sleep—and helping the industry alert people about the perils of Zombieitis (go to www. stopzombieitis.com).

JUST FOR LAUGHS

Less A choice

+ =

more quality “No, your dad didn’t turn into a flesh-eating zombie. He’s just not getting enough sleep, thanks to that old mattress we sleep on.”

8 SleepSavvy • October 2011

sales SALES

ccording to Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, offering high-quality products and fewer choices has a positive effect on sales. Consumers are more likely to buy if they’re reassured they’re making a good choice—a choice they won’t regret later. They’ll accept fewer choices if they trust that those few items will be exceptionally good.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

Be careful with images of boomers

A brief history of digital communication ● The Internet was commercialized just 16 years ago. ● Mobile phone with Internet connectivity was launched just 15 years ago. ● Google was named the search engine of choice by PC magazine just 13 years ago. ● Blackberry launched in America just 10 years ago. ● Facebook was launched just 7 years ago and today has more than 600 million users. ● Twitter, launched just 5 years ago, has over 200 million users and generates more than 65 million tweets a day. ● The iPhone, the first of the smartphones, was introduced just 4 years ago. ● Groupon, introduced just 3 years ago, now serves up its deal-of-the-day coupons in most major markets worldwide. ● New apps that are tailored to users’ specific needs are introduced almost every minute of every day.

W

hen marketing to that all-important baby boomer demographic, keep in mind how boomers see themselves. Although an increasing number are retiring seniors—the first boomers, according to the U.S. Census, are now 65—threequarters of boomers consider themselves middle age or even “young.” According to an Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll of 1416 adults (1,078 boomers), the median age baby boomers cite as “old age” is 70, but one-quarter say people aren’t “old” until they’re age 80. There are some 77 million boomers in the U.S. They are likely to be happy about the benefits of aging—more free time, less family and work responsibilities—and think they’ll live longer than their parents. Treat them like the carefree youngsters they really are!

BEDDING BIZ BEAT July was a good news-bad news month for mattress sales, according to the International Sleep Products Association Bedding Barometer. Wholesale dollar sales among the 18 participating mattress manufacturers rose by 6% compared to July 2010. But unit sales of mattresses and foundations were down by 4.5%. The numbers reflected a sharp average unit price jump of 11%.

Mattresses & Foundations in Millions of Wholesale Dollars Sample of Leading Producers

$383

$402

$448 $381

$350 $363

$364

$382

$372

$407

$376

$398

Percent change +4.9%

Percent change +17.6%

Percent change +3.8%

Percent change +5.0%

Percent change +9.5%

Percent change +6.0%

February

March

April

May

June

July

■ 2010 ■ 2011

10 SleepSavvy • October 2011

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


SNOOZE NEWS

stuff you can use

Insomnia costing U.S. billons each year

Sleep Shorts

Insomnia is costing the average U.S. worker 11.3 days, or $2,280 in lost productivity every year. That’s 252.7 days for the nation as a whole— $63.2 billion. In a national survey of nearly 7,500 employees, researchers asked participants about habits and work performance. The results appeared in the September issue of the journal SLEEP. Overall, about 23% of the participants had insomnia. Rates were lower for workers age 65 and older (14.3%) and lower for men (19.7%) than for women (27.1%). “It’s an underappreciated problem,” said lead author Ronald Kessler, a psychiatric epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School. “Americans are not missing work because of insomnia. They are still going to their jobs but accomplishing less because they’re tired. In an informationbased economy, it’s difficult to find a condition that has a greater effect on productivity.” In another study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers estimated that the costs associated with lost productivity may be even higher. An online survey of 4,200 workers estimated that an employee with insomnia costs $3,156 in lost productivity; an employee with less severe sleep problems costs an average of $2,500. The numbers do not include absenteeism costs—those with insomnia missed work about five more days annually than did good sleepers, according to the survey.

Deep sleep keeps blood pressure down Sleeping soundly may be a key to lower blood pressure, according to a study published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association. The Harvard School of Medicine study of 784 men ages 65 and over showed that those who got the least deep (“slow wave”) sleep were 80% more likely to develop hypertension than those who got the most. Men with less slowwave sleep were also more likely to have poor-quality sleep, including shorter sleep duration, more awakenings at night and more severe sleep apnea. Of all measures of sleep quality, researchers found slow-wave sleep was most strongly associated with the

12 SleepSavvy • October 2011

development of high blood pressure. This is the first study to show that poor sleep quality independently raises the risk of high blood pressure regardless of sleep duration or other sleep issues. Researchers said the results suggest the sleep quality is the third pillar of overall health. “People should recognize that sleep, diet and physical activity are critical to health,” said researcher Susan Redline, MD, adding that even though women were not included in the study, it’s likely they have similar risk levels.

Sleep-deprived teens crave carbs Daytime sleepiness among teenagers is associated with an increased craving for carbohydrates, according to a recent study of 262 high school seniors by the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. The likelihood of a strong craving for carbs was 50% higher among those with excessive daytime sleepiness. “This is one of the first studies in a high school population to show a linear relationship between carbohydrate craving and sleep deprivation,” said Dr. Mahmood Siddique. “This study highlights the importance of diagnosing sleep deprivation as a risk factor for obesity among young adults.” Researchers also found that students with strong cravings for carbs were more likely to have depression (34%) than those with little or no desire for carbohydrates (22%). Students with major depression were nearly three times more likely to have a strong craving for carbohydrates. “Those who are depressed and sleep-deprived may be at special risk for obesity,” said Siddique.

Women losing sleep over finances Financial worries are the biggest reason women stay up at night, with nearly one in three (30%) burning the midnight oil over money. That’s according to a survey by Manilla.com, an online service that helps people manage their household accounts. To-do lists and work stress came in distant second, with just 18% of women saying those issues are their biggest sleep deprivers. But men, it seems aren’t afflicted by the same nighttime anxieties. When asked what keeps them up at night, the most common answer for men (35%) was: “Nothing.”

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


14 SleepSavvy • October 2011

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


The cover story

Setting up mattress sales associates for success Create a learning environment that keeps them informed and engaged

C

By Craig McAndrews & Derek LaHair

onducting sales education sessions can be one of the worst experiences you can go through—or, if done correctly, it can be one of the most rewarding. Think about the last time you attended a meeting where the environment was engaging, the instructor was interesting, the content was relevant and, in the end, you felt as though you learned something that could help you perform better at your job. If you can’t think of that time, you may want to recommend to your manager—or if you are a manager yourself, to consider—several approaches that help to create a more productive educational opportunity.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

SleepSavvy • October 2011

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THE COVER STORY

setting up sales associates for success An engaging environment Creating a physical environment that’s conducive to learning is key not only to engagement, but also to retention of information. Think back to your favorite classes in high school. Perhaps they weren’t the classes you thought would be your favorites, but ultimately they were because of external factors that helped to influence and determine your learning experience. Perhaps it was a favorite teacher or maybe friends in your class that made the difference. Maybe your classroom had windows with a great view or newer desks and chairs that were more comfortable than other classrooms. Whatever the reason, your physical surroundings likely helped determine why your favorite class was indeed your favorite. Apply those same principles to today’s training environment. You don’t need a state-of-the-art training facility to make learning stick, but certain amenities increase the likelihood that associates will enjoy the experience even more. Think about mattress shoppers. We try to make our stores as beautiful as possible, have clean restrooms and make sure the beds look just right, all in an effort to create the perfect first impression. Why then would we not take the same care when dealing with our own associates? Their learning environment is equally important, if not more. Is your training area just as spotless as one of the nicest showrooms in town? Or is it dark, damp, dimly lit and located in the back of the store? At Mattress Firm, we like to keep www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

the learning environment fresh by adding small toys—like bouncy balls or mini-Etch-aSketches—to the desks during training. Seem elementary? It is, and the best thing about it is that it creates a fun learning environment where associates are encouraged to play as hard as they work. Don’t forget the food. Everyone loves food, and this often-overlooked aspect of learning can make or break your training session. Food doesn’t have to be expensive. Putting out healthy snacks that people ate as children, like Goldfish or Fruit Rollups, encourages learners to stay mentally and physically satisfied. Avoid sugary snacks that encourage 2:00 p.m. naps. Water and diet sodas are great as well, and don’t forget the Red Bull. Adult learners love a training environment that uses a variety of different strategies to engage them. A positive environment heavily influences their thoughts, feelings and opinions surrounding the entire training experience. Sales meeting or sales training? It’s easy to fall prey to the mentality that holding a sales meeting on core selling concepts constitutes a training session. In actuality, the two are

vastly different. Sales training is different from a sales meeting in three primary respects. First, formal training is usually derived from a need within the market. For example, a district manager might notice that an increase in sales of a certain brand could result in a sudden decrease in overall margin. From there, a training session is crafted, instituting a facilitatorled class with appropriate learning materials accompanied by an educational model. For example, associates might be asked to participate in a “watch-do-teach” session where they watch a facilitator demonstrate a certain technique, perform the task themselves through role plays or skill practice, and then teach that same technique back to the instructors to help demonstrate and solidify understanding. Finally, training usually involves some sort of follow up—a survey deployed or data collected that ensure associates retained the information and that the training is having a positive impact on business results. If these three elements aren’t in place during a team gathering, it’s likely the session will, quite unintentionally, turn into a sales meeting rather than sales training. While sales meetings have their advantages in terms of disseminating information, sales training will yield a much higher return on your investment.

SleepSavvy • October 2011

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THE COVER STORY

setting up sales associates for success E-learning is a good alternative Most companies still rely heavily on instructor-led training or training conducted in a classroom-style setting and facilitated by one or more experts. While this type of training will likely never disappear, it’s important to remember that the training landscape is rapidly changing and that several other methods are widely available. Your training environment doesn’t always have to be a central location where everyone gathers. Consider web-based training. Every day, more and more companies are turning to e-learning providers to ensure their associates

not only learn information more quickly, but also increase the likelihood that they will retain it. If implemented correctly, e-learning not only has the potential to reach more people with the touch of a button, it also provides a “learn at your own pace” environment where associates can maximize their time by learning in the comfort of their own stores. Web-based training is a good approach to distance learning. Associates can utilize a computer to connect with a constantly changing landscape. Web-based training provides a unique and ideal platform for content delivery to the field. Users can keep up with information as it evolves and they can learn it faster than ever. One of the tools Mattress Firm employs is a learning management system (LMS)—an

Project 180: Sharing ideas on the web

H

ave a great tip on qualifying or a closing technique that works really well? Why wait until a sales meeting to share it? Using a social media style website that encourages learning can share it right away. Imagine a website where associates new and old could go and watch their peers doing what they do best—a site where techniques are not only demonstrated, but also rated. At Mattress Firm, we call it “Project 180,” a YouTube-inspired site devoted to best practice sharing among peers. Using flip cams, cell phones or any video capture device, associates can record themselves and others demonstrating selling techniques and offering words of wisdom to their coworkers. Within minutes, that video can be uploaded to the Project 180 site, categorized and accessed by any associate in the company. Peers can then rate the videos based on the overall content and performance. The numbers of hits are displayed, so it’s well known what the most popular videos are and who made them. By creating Project 180, best practice sharing at Mattress Firm became much easier, quite literally, overnight

18 SleepSavvy • October 2011

online corporate university where associates can attend virtual personal and professional development classes. Not only can associates receive part of their education through the LMS, they can also complete quizzes and exams that test their knowledge. For example, if a new product hits the floor, it’s not unusual for associates to have access to specialized vendor information or instructor-led training for it. The LMS is also a great way to deploy that same information by creating a virtual classroom. Multiple, individual training sessions can now take place all across the country rather than having to gather associates by district into a single meeting location. Better still, the information and training is constantly available to them any time they are in a store and they can test their own knowledge by clicking on the appropriate quiz. Once they have passed the course, it shows up in their transcripts as having been successfully completed. Perhaps the best aspect of having an online corporate university is the often-overlooked need for continuing education. Just because an associate has completed initial training, that doesn’t always mean they are finished learning everything they need to know for their job. A learning management system makes it possible for each retail sales associate at Mattress Firm to stay educated regarding changes in the industry, product information and, most importantly, selling techniques. Computer-based learning will never take the place of one-on-one, human interaction. But learning management systems pave the way to disseminate all types information to an even broader audience much faster than ever before. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


Adjustable Bedding Solutions

Your partner in the sleep industry.

www.19East.us


THE COVER STORY

setting up sales associates for success Company culture is essential Perhaps the most often overlooked aspect of training is the company culture. Difficult to create and teach, a company’s culture defines the values it stands for and what it sees as most important. Company culture isn’t built overnight, and it will always be unique and specific to your place of business. It’s vital that new associates start to see, hear and feel the culture right away so that they can begin to decide where they fit into the company’s mission and whether or not they agree with the company’s values. Discovering how they fit into the company culture during their earliest stages of employment sets the stage for higher levels of engagement and retention. A dynamic company culture speaks volumes about your organization and helps new associates begin to realize whether your

place of business is one they’ll want to stay with for the long run. Simply stated, it’s not just about mattresses. Our philosophy at Mattress Firm is that the culture should be, quite simply, fun. I’ve come under fire for saying this in the past, but we cannot underestimate the place that fun has in adult learning. Incorporating fun activities into training will jumpstart the learning process for

Scientists test the ‘fun theory’

A

group of scientists and engineers in Stockholm got together to test the theory that people in the Odenplan Metro Station would be more likely to choose the stairs, rather than an escalator, if they were to somehow make the stairs more fun. At first, they observed that more than 95% of people took the escalator, bypassing the stairs altogether. So, using sensors and triggers hooked up to hidden speakers, the scientists and engineers made the stairs into life-size piano keys—think Tom Hanks in the movie “Big.” Not only did the stairs sound like piano keys, they were made to look like piano keys. When people walked up and down the stairs, they were, in a sense, able to make music. The scientists set up several hidden cameras and waited. The results: 66% more people chose the stairs over the escalator simply because they were more fun. Watch “The Dreaded Stairs” video on YouTube (www.youtube.com/ watch?v=Qx_8gxh76iM). It documents the experiment and leaves viewers with this tagline: “Fun can obviously change behavior for the better. We call it the ‘fun theory’.”

20 SleepSavvy • October 2011

associates and is crucial to help make learning stick. At Mattress Firm, we do several things to support the theory that fun facilitates learning. For example, at the end of each corporate training session, we hand out a baseball to each associate signed by their classmates. This “game ball” serves as a memento of their training and helps them remember their training and the new friends they’ve met. Remember when passing notes during class would land you in trouble? At Mattress Firm, the opposite is true. We incorporate affirmations—positive notes associates can write and leave for each other in a personalized mailbox in class. This helps foster a “zingfree” zone where associates are encouraged to encourage others, ultimately building a stronger, more dedicated and focused team during training. There is also an occasional “dance-off” during breaks in class and the intermittent ice cream social, where one of the facilitators brings in ice cream to eat during a spontaneous break. The important thing to remember is that each activity has a point. Whether it helps build a stronger team, solidify a concept or just let the associates know that you care, each activity is intentional. Fun activities like these are priceless, and their value is not lost on the associates. Bring in the experts Using a subject matter expert—or SME—is a great way to engage your team and provide associates with real world examples of applying sales training with customers. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


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THE COVER STORY

setting up sales associates for success

The advertising-to-education ‘readiness ratio’

T

he retail advertising dollar is more valuable than ever. Consumers are bombarded with messages from every angle, and a mattress is a promotionally influenced purchase. But before you plan your budget for advertising, ask yourself: How ready is my team to handle the customers coming into the store? You can calculate your company’s “readiness ratio” by using the following math: Total dollars invested in advertising divided by total dollars invested in education. For example, if you spend $50,000 a month on advertising and you invest $5,000 a month in training activities—that is, dedicated training and meetings—your ratio is almost 10:1. What’s the point of this exercise? The point is that investment in sales education is as important as investment in advertising. Unfortunately, in today’s challenging business climate, it’s too easy to cut back on education and focus all of your dollars on driving traffic. The risk is huge.

22 SleepSavvy • October 2011

A consumer who visits your store and has a bad experience is one of the most costly situations you will ever face. To truly maximize the return on your ad dollars, it’s critical to have training in place that provides your staff with the information and techniques they need to serve the customer. The ratio that is best for your business depends on several factors, including cost of ads, number of stores, competitive challenges, etc. However, it is clear that a ratio of 10 or 20 or 30 to zero is costing you business. If your ads are working, people are visiting your stores. Make sure you are supporting your team with the tools to provide the best, most profitable experience possible.

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


THE COVER STORY

setting up sales associates for success process. For example, you may have an associate who is very good at asking relevant questions during the selling process—someone who could add tremendous value when teaching on the topic of qualifying. You might also have a person who is very good at handling difficult customer objections—bring them in when teaching new people

the art of closing the sale. In each case, you have the opportunity to support training efforts with real life examples from people who are doing it on a regular basis. The SME approach adds credibility to the training process, and associates really appreciate hearing from their peers on what it takes to win at retail. ●

Derek LaHair is the new hire education specialist at Mattress Firm Inc. He has worked on the sales floor at Mattress Firm and has been a part of the Learning and Development group since 2008.

A typical SME is someone who is currently selling in the retail environment and, in many cases, excels in one or more areas of the selling

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

Craig McAndrews is vice president of merchandising at Mattress Firm. He has held various positions in the mattress industry in both the wholesale and the retail segments. Craig has written articles for Sleep Savvy in the past, most notably the 2006-2009 series of mystery shopping features called “Under Cover.”

SleepSavvy • October 2011

23


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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

Duxiana at The Mews Luxury linens retailer hits hole-in-one with ultra-premium beds By Barbara Nelles Photography by Scott Nelles

T

Owners Tanda and Neal Jarest

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

he golfers’ paradise of Southern Pines, NC, adjacent to world-renowned resort Pinehurst, is where you will find Duxiana at The Mews, a true luxury sleep shop where the average ticket for a new bed plus accessories is a mattress retailer’s dream. Tanda and Neal Jarest opened their luxury bed and bath accessories boutique, Opulence of Southern Pines, 14 years ago. Last winter, they decided to expand by opening a Dux sleep shop in an adjacent space at The Mews, which they own. The two were long-time admirers of Duxiana, a high-end, Swedish-made line of mattresses sold exclusively in dedicated boutiques around the world. Tanda is a former sales rep for high-end linens lines and had several Dux retailers as customers. The couple hoped the Dux shop would provide one-stop convenience for current Opulence customers, as well as attract a whole new clientele to both stores. They closed a cafe at The Mews and converted the 1,200-square feet to a perfectly sized Duxiana shop. A year later, both the Duxiana and Opulence boutiques are thriving. According to Neal, typical Dux customers buy at least the mid-priced bed—$6,780 in queen—and most buy king size. Then they will spend from “a third to the full price of the bed on linens.” The attachment rate for top of bed items is 100%, the couple says. SleepSavvy • October 2011

25


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

Opulence, the upscale accessories boutique, has been open 14 years.

‘The Bed For Life’ Founded in 1926, Dux is a familyowned company producing handmade beds with the tag line, “The Bed For Life.” The durable beds are manufactured at two plants in Sweden and a textile plant in Portugal. They incorporate Swedish northern hardwoods, steel springs, natural latex and fabrics with 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton yarns. The company claims a Dux bed should last up to 50 years. “These beds get handed down within families,” Neal says. Duxiana at The Mews is one of just 28 retail outlets in the U.S. and 100 globally. All Duxiana retailers sell Dux exclusively and must meet exacting requirements. Dux North America President Bo Gustafsson personally visited the Jarests’ site before giving final approval for their license. Southern Pines is an anomaly for Dux, which is usually in a major metropolitan area, Neal says. “But because we have been so successful selling luxury linens for so long and

26 SleepSavvy • October 2011

because we have built our reputation on luxury lines and are a destination, we were approved.” The look of a Duxiana store is distinctive and everything from wall color to window coverings to cabinetry and fixtures must be purchased through Dux. Every five years, the stores and the beds are redesigned. The Jarests’ store is one of the few that already has the Dux “2015 Look,” which includes modular allaluminum wall units with Velcro slipcovers in a brown and gold theme to match the redesigned beds coming out later this year. The Dux collection includes three innerspring beds and an adjustable bed in twin XL. The beds are European “divan” styles in differing profiles and come with the removable “Extra Xupport” 2.5-inch latex toppers that can be replaced. The starting Dux 1001, retailing at $4,980, has a two-tier innerspring core—product literature says that there are two times as many steel springs in the bed as in a “typical

innerspring bed.” The taller Dux 12:12, retailing at $6,780, has “three times the springs.” The Dux 8888— the one the Jarests sleep on—has three layers of innerspring support and “nearly four times the amount of springs.” It retails for $9,510 (all prices are queen). In both the 12:12 and the 8888, the top innerspring layer is customizable with Personal Comfort Zones, called “Pascal diskettes.” There are six coilfilled zones on each king and queen, three on each side of the bed, with a choice of three firmnesses. Consumers can choose the combination they like. “They allow you to rearrange the zones as your body or needs change,” Neal explains. The zones also make it possible for a 300-pound man and his 125-pound wife to comfortably share the same sleep surface. “Many people have it ingrained that you need to buy a firm bed, so shoppers often request all firm diskettes,” Neal says. “But I explain that you need a supportive bed, not a firm bed, and that zoning with different comfort levels is best.” The 8888 also comes with an Adjustable Lumbar Support for each side of the bed. A removable hand crank allows owners to compress the bottom springs in the lumbar region, increasing the bed’s firmness. “Once your body has lost its muscle memory of your old bed, that’s when you should adjust the lumbar support on your new Dux bed,” Neal advises customers. The Axion adjustable bed, with a motorized system to elevate head and foot, is proving popular among sleepers of all ages. It retails for just over $6,000 in twin XL. “Buyers are anywhere from their 20s and 30s into their 80s,” Tanda says. “Even some Special Ops guys from the (nearby Fort Bragg) base” have bought the Axion, says Neal, himself a retired captain in the U.S. Army Special Forces. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

Backlit displays showcase Dux top-of-bed items.

Duxiana at The Mews is one of just 28 Dux stores in the U.S.

Rounding out the Dux collection is an assortment of coordinating bed legs and two styles of adjustable headboards with a choice of Velcro-fastened slipcovers or leather upholstery. Always accessorize Duxiana at The Mews has some enviable advantages over the typical bedding retailer seeking to expand into accessories—namely, a wellestablished reputation for accessories among a very well-heeled clientele. They are also adept at introducing new shoppers to fine linens. The Opulence boutique stocks luxury French and Italian sheets and top-ofbed brands, as well as everything from fragrances and lingerie to bath rugs. “Many existing Opulence customers come to us already educated on bed linens. They have a fabric they prefer and in many cases they have a favorite brand name,” Tanda says. “If they aren’t already an Opulence customer, they become one,” she says. “For those who are first-time buyers of ‘nice sheets,’ we love to www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

educate them a bit, show them the difference between Percale and sateen, damask and jacquard. We have all of our fabrics on hand so they can feel them. We also have the lesser quality fabrics found at the discount stores so our customer can feel the difference. By allowing customers to compare side by side, they can see that you really can’t go wrong with any of our fabric selections.”  When the Dux customer steps inside The Mews, the first thing she sees is a beautifully dressed Dux bed with fine sheets, duvet, pillows and bed skirt—a display that changes with the seasons. Shoppers feel drawn to touch and caress. Ahead is an eye-catching wall of backlit Dux-branded top-of-bed accessories. The most popular is a wool mattress protector—this item has a 100% attachment rate with new beds. At $143 to $209, it’s breathable, washable and fits over the bed’s latex topper. Nearby are lightweight, down-filled Duxbranded comforters and the Xleep pillow, which has an innerspring

core, a neckroll and a down-filled 100% cotton cover. The pillow retails for $235 to $260. Once the shopper has selected her Dux-made accessories, she is mere steps from the entrance to Opulence, which spotlights an inviting array of artfully dressed beds. The boutique carries more than 18 high-end bed linen lines. Fitted and flat sheets range from $150 to $700. “In almost all cases, anyone buying a new bed also wants new bed linens—it just makes sense,” Neal says. “In our case, it’s a natural addon because everyone that purchases a Dux bed needs a Dux protecSleepSavvy • October 2011

27


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

tor. This allows us to progress to the base covers, headboards, headboard covers and sheets.” Handling sticker shock Sometimes even existing Opulence customers get sticker shock when perusing the Dux showroom, but that’s something Tanda and her staff are accustomed to handling. “It’s the same shock when you’re told a flat sheet is $500,” she says. “But there is acceptance when you educate shoppers about quality and workmanship.” Dux point-of-sale materials offer customers plenty of product information. There are mattress cutaways, handsome brochures and touchscreen video guides. But it’s up to the salesperson to take the measure of each customer, Neal says—to determine how much information

about the beds is just right. “Typically, women want a more ‘touchy-feely’ introduction to the beds, the softer information,” Neal says. “Men are more likely to delve into the technical side of product specifications.”

The Mews, with its three boutiques, is in Southern Pines’ quaint shopping district.

Panama Jack® and Hickory at Home have introduced a new branded line of high-quality futons and frames for retail stores. There are four tropical-themed futon/ frame combinations constructed from materials including Hickory Springs’ bio-based Preserve® foam, natural cotton felt, recycled steel coils, and recycled fiber. Each futon frame and mattress is sold as a set. WWW.HICKORYATHOME.COM 828.328.2201 #4562 800.438.5341 #4562

28 SleepSavvy • October 2011

www.sleepsavvymagazine.com


RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene

“When you get people to lie down on them, the beds sell themselves,” Tanda says, adding that it’s not unusual for a customer to lie down and remain on the bed throughout the entire sales process. The couple received training from Dux’s corporate stores in New York before opening their store. And successful cross-selling by the Opulence sales staff has resulted in many Opulence customers making the leap to purchasing a Dux bed. Neal, an avid golfer, says that opening the Dux showroom has “ruined my golf game.” While many women pre-shop for beds during the week, the Jarests find that the day for both wife and husband to shop and make a purchase is Saturday. Mattress delivery is typically within five days and never more than a

month, Neal says. The store stocks one of each model and the central Dux warehouse in New Jersey delivers once a month. “But we never say ‘no’ to a customer,” Neal says. “If they want immediate delivery and are willing to pay the extra freight, we are always willing to arrange that.” “No” is not part of Duxiana corporate vocabulary, he adds. “They will custom manufacture beds to any specifications.” The Dux network Consumer inquiries to the Dux corporate website and its 800 number are an invaluable source of referrals to Duxiana at The Mews. Customers are referred to the store from across the Carolinas and the Southeast, Neal says.

FIND COMFORT

ADJUSTABLE BED

In addition, Dux has many readymade fans among transplants to this popular region of North Carolina and second-home owners from the Northeast, where the brand has a decades-old presence. They are the kind of customers who call and say, “I can’t live without my Dux bed” and will order over the phone from as far away as D.C., Neal says. The Jarests invest in frequent print advertising to raise awareness. The stores run side-by-side Opulence and Dux spreads in area dailies and in the region’s major newspapers, the Raleigh News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer, as well as in the many glossy magazines and travel guides focusing on this affluent resort area—a perfect fit for these upscale bedroom boutiques. ●

Your body is made up of many movable, adjustable parts. Now the bed on which your body rests can be too. Our exclusive “Sectional 6” has an industry first with six movable panels that work independently to provide comfort other beds can’t imagine. Two of our other models feature movable panels that work independently to provide maximum relaxation. Move up to Hickory At Home’s exclusive new line of adjustable bed bases. Join the movement and raise your bed to the next level of comfort with Hickory At Home.

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SleepSavvy • October 2011

29


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BE MY GUEST

by Harry J. Friedman

Why should anyone want to work for you? The nightmare of finding people to work on the selling floor continues. It seems like it’s been a problem forever. But the last 25 to 30 years, it’s been getting worse. Now, it’s a mindblower. Today, I was chatting with a retailer client about managers’ and district managers’ compensation. I have a strong belief that retail is a “choice” business. For years I’ve helped clients jump on the productivity-based pay bandwagon. Every day, salespeople have a choice of how they choose to behave with each customer that comes into their store. They can do the minimum and virtually point to the requested merchandise. Or they can go the extra mile and actually develop a relationship in which customers want to come back and shop again. I simply want to pay for the latter. But even if you are on a productivitybased compensation program and your staff has the opportunity to enjoy increased pay for increased productivity, it isn’t enough anymore. Times have changed. It’s time to rethink the environment and benefits your employees receive. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of doing a sales seminar in Northern California. Our client is a world-beating bicycle manufacturer and the participants were salespeople from stores throughout the U.S. I must admit I was a little excited because I own one of their bicycles and just flat out love to ride. From the moment I arrived at their headquarters, my mind and heart started to race. The company’s lobby is a quasi-museum www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

of past accomplishments, prototypes and just enough history to give you an idea of how innovative they are. I’ll spare you the details of the grand tour, but there were a few highlights worth sharing. First, the company encourages employees to ride to work. They have a locker room for men and one for women, each accommodating 50 people. They have an entire fleet of bicycles in all the current models for employees to ride and they maintain a staff of mechanics in case you need one. You can pick up a helmet and shoes and off you go. At lunchtime, there’s a two-hour bike ride. The amazement continues. Guess what? People love working there. I often read about the top U.S. companies to work for and the unique things they do to attract and retain employees. I sometimes fantasize that if my company were as big as the ones they mention, I too would be like them. Many years ago I was able to create a work environment that was world-class. I would close the office to

SleepSavvy • October 2011

31


BE MY GUEST

by Harry J. Friedman go bowling or play miniature golf. I would barbeque in the parking lot behind the office. And I was generous—I bought employees cars, pianos, clothing and any number of things to show my appreciation. Then times got tough and the cutbacks began. Getting back to today’s conversation with a client, I was reminded of a well-known retailer that is also a client of ours. The company has 35 stores and offers no discounts to employees on the very merchandise they sell. Hmmm. I had an epiphany. I might have cut back a lot in my own company, but many of the retailers I know were never in the game of making their company a place that people really want to work for to begin with. So, here’s the deal. Beyond the pay,

beyond the wonderful merchandise you sell, why should I work for you? WIIFM—what’s in it for me? As my client and I were talking about pay, I suggested he rethink the perks he gives. Give random days off. Buy little things staff members might enjoy. Give an extra week of vacation for top producers. Get thinking and start making it a joy to work for your company. Today, it’s not just about money; it’s also about lifestyle—theirs. Treat your folks like you really value them and you’ll find you don’t have to keep replacing them so often. We have a form we’ve used in one of our courses called the Employees Value Assessment Form. The exercise is simple. Write down what you think employees value in their work

environment, then ask them and see how you stack up. You’ll soon start to get a picture of whether you’ve created a company that people actually enjoy working for. ● Harry J. Friedman is an internationally acclaimed retail consultant and founder/CEO of The Friedman Group. Since 1980, his retail sales and management techniques have been used by more than 500,000 retailers worldwide. His clients in the home furnishings business include such companies as Brand Source, Ashley, La-Z-Boy and Carpet One. For information on upcoming free retail webinars, seminars, training programs, on-site training or e-learning, call 800-351-8040, email info@TheFriedmanGroup.com or visit www.TheFriedmanGroup.com.

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32 SleepSavvy • October 2011

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BACK TALK

supporting customer dreams

6 great customer talking

points for mattress RSAs

1

Did you know that you spend more time on your bed than any other piece of furniture? You spend a third of your life in bed, and you rely on it more for your health and well-being. That’s why it’s so important to invest in the best mattress you can afford.

2 Do you have trouble sleeping because of stress? The majority of Americans do. It’s not always possible to reduce our stress, but we can pay attention to our sleep environment. A comfortable, top-quality mattress can dramatically improve the quality of our sleep.

3

How you sleep at night determines how you feel during the day. Sleep not only determines how rested you feel, but how productive you are at work, your mood, your energy level, your memory and your overall health. Sleeping on the right mattress is important to the quality of your life.

4

A university study shows that sleeping on a new mattress can help alleviate back pain. If you wake up with back pain or stiffness, it’s a good sign that it’s time to replace your old mattress with one that offers better comfort and support.

5

Sleep loss can cause serious health problems. Doctors now know that too little or disrupted sleep is associated with serious problems, including heart disease, obesity, hypertension and a weakened immune system. To support good health, you need to make sure you’re getting 7-8 hours of solid sleep on a quality mattress.

6

Good sleep is rejuvenating for your mind and body. But it’s tough on a mattress. An old mattress and foundation really should be replaced every 5-7 years to make sure you continue to get the comfort and support you deserve.

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SleepSavvy • October 2011

33


IHFC IS ALWAYS ON @ ihfc.com

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CONSUMER CHECK profiling your customer

Cone Survey

Online reviews sway your customers

F

our out of five consumers (80%) have changed their mind about a purchase based solely on negative information they read online, according to a recent survey. That’s an increase from 67% just a year ago, according to the 2011 Cone Online Influence Trend Tracker poll from Cone, a Bostonbased public relations and marketing communications firm. Overall, 89% of consumers say they use online reviews, blogs, articles and social media as trustworthy sources of information about products and services. And 87% say that a favorable review has confirmed their decision to buy a specific product. “But,” as report says, “negative information is gaining traction and is now just as powerful in tipping the scales against a recommended purchase.” “The increasing impact of online content on buying decisions cannot be ignored,” said Cone President Bill Fleishman. “Today’s marketers, no matter the product or service, must learn how to sway the conversation by connecting with those who have significant influence over their peers and will champion the brand message.” Americans say the most trustworthy online sources have used the product or service before (69%) or are considered a credible expert on the subject (60%). Cone attributes the increasing reliance of online product reviews to the growing use of smartphones, www.sleepsavvymagazine.com

as well as widespread access to the Internet in people’s homes. Careful spending is another factor. The survey found that 89% of consumers will look for product reviews for big-ticket purchases (like mattresses)—that’s a big leap from last year’s 72%. When logging on to learn more about a potential purchase, articles and blogs may still lag behind product information (69%) and consumer reviews (64%) as preferred sources of information, but they are growing in importance. In fact, consumers are 50% more likely today than in 2010 to look to articles and blogs for recom-

mendations (42% vs. 28%). “Today’s consumers want reassurance before loosening their purse strings, and personal recommendations alone are just not enough to guarantee a purchase,” said Mike Hollywood, Cone director of new media. “The explosion of online word-of-mouth channels and the adoption of online verification have forever changed the marketing landscape.” The survey was conducted in late June by ORC International among a representative sample of 1,054 U.S. adults. For more information, visit www.coneinc.com/2011ConeOnline InfluenceTrendTracker. ●

Shoppers go online to verify a purchase recommendation... 66%

When it is a product or service they’ll own or use for many years

68%

When it is a product or service that is new or has a new feature they’re not yet familiar with

65% 64%

When it is a product or service they are excited about owning/using

58% 50% 53%

When the product or service is one that they’ve spent a long time looking for When it is a product or service they know they will find a lot of information and reviews about online When the product or service will require a time commitment and they want to ensure their time will be well spent When it is a product or service they know a lot of people talk about online Source: Building Brand Trust, Coneinc.com

50% 33% 33% 25%

■ 2010

■ 2011

SleepSavvy • October 2011

35


Where inspiration becomes reality.

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CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris

Customers judge in the blink of an eye “I would rather trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason.”

I

—Stanley Baldwin

n his bestseller, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, author Malcolm Gladwell reveals that our subconscious is even more powerful than we thought, going well beyond intuition. There is part of our brain called the adaptive unconscious that leaps to conclusions. The study of this kind of decision-making is one of the most important new fields in psychology. I believe this book contains many ideas that can open up new areas of discussion to help our industry better communicate with and serve our customers. I’d like to share a few of Gladwell’s major points, along with my thoughts on how they can impact retail mattress sales. Gladwell says this “giant computer of ours” is capable of making very quick judgments based on very little information. He asserts that these fast subconscious decisions are often superior to our conscious ones because the “more is better” approach often creates too many hypotheticals, resulting in confusion. Mattress shoppers immediately begin to draw conclusions about a retailer from the moment they enter the parking lot. It’s important that every detail of our presentation be objectively examined, improved, enhanced and maintained. Based on the messages from a store (advertising) and about a store (word

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of mouth), prospective shoppers quickly decide whether or not to visit. If they choose to visit, most formulate expectations, such as “I’m going to get the best bang for my buck” or “I’m going to find a mattress that I can sleep better on.” Gladwell demonstrates the effectiveness of what he calls “thin slicing.” He used a study group to identify effective vs. ineffective college professors based on just two seconds of video tape with no sound. The group’s judgments were consistent with evaluations of those same professors made by students after a full semester of classes. Mattress shoppers size up RSAs immediately. There is nothing more important than being fully prepared. Everything from product knowledge and selling skills to grooming, attitude and body language must be scrutinized. It works both ways—RSAs also make snap judgments about their shoppers. It’s important never to judge by appearance. Instead, assume that each shopper may well choose to buy a top-quality mattress. In another study, Gladwell reveals that doctors who weren’t sued for malpractice were the ones that patients thought listened to them and cared

about them. It isn’t the outcome that causes patients to sue, it’s whether they like the doctor or not. The report also showed that the doctors who were not sued spent an average of three minutes longer with each patient. The point is obvious. RSAs who take the time to listen, show respect and address concerns will be much more successful than those who don’t. In the blink of an eye, our customers jump to a series of conclusions. What are they concluding about your store, your products and you? Gladwell goes on to describe a cardiac clinic that discovered three basic indicators could be used to determine which patients complaining of chest pain would actually go into cardiac arrest. The accuracy of the predictions far exceeded the cardiologists’ judgments based on multiple factors and years of experience. Can we as an industry boil down the information we can obtain from our customers to a few indicators that will determine the type of mattress that will be best suited for them? I have some ideas that will be the subject of my next column. ● Gerry Morris is an author, consultant, training coach and member of the National Speakers Association. With more than 20 years of experience in the mattress industry, Gerry has helped manufacturers, retailers and RSAs around the world increase their sales. To find out what Gerry can do for your company, call him at 903-456-2015, email gmorris@innerspring.net, visit his website at www.innerspring.net or his blog at http://sellmorebeds.wordpress.com.

SleepSavvy • October 2011

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Sleep Savvy Oct 11  

The magazine for sleep products professionals

Sleep Savvy Oct 11  

The magazine for sleep products professionals