The cover story
Women: Power buyers, power influencers
RETAIL ROAD TRIP
Mattress Man brings personality, customers to N.C. sleep shops CONSUMER CHECK
Trend watchers see ‘retail renaissance’ of in-store shopping
IN THIS ISSUE where to find it
THE COVER STORY
women’s expanding role as consumers
Women continue to make most buying decisions for their households, but a new study shows their growing role as influencers who sway the opinions of friends, family and others.
WAKE UP CALL
from the editor
In-store shopping offers sensory experiences that engage consumers and outweigh some of the advantages of purchasing online.
stuff you can use
ISPA proposes national mattress recycling program; how to calm angry customers; the Better Sleep Council gives advice in The Washington Post; sleepy students in U.K. classrooms; home health aide is America’s most sleepdeprived career…and more.
BE MY GUEST by Pam Lontos The award-winning publicist and author spells out why customer testimonials are the ultimate sales tool and offers tips for how to solicit, write and use them.
31 34 36
CONSUMER CHECK profiling your customer Recent research shows that consumers will shop for products in your store more than ever. The key is offering online experiences in-store.
HER BED POST by Delia Passi
Because men and women shop differently, get to the point with men but show women your mattress selection—then give them room to decide.
CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris Using a sales technique called “guided discovery,” retailers teach shoppers to focus on mattress benefits, engage them in the buying process and help them decide which bed is best for them.
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Mattress Man Superstores in Western North Carolina use a lovable, life-size mascot named—you guessed it— Mattress Man to build customer awareness. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
SleepSavvy • April 2012
SleepSavvy The magazine for sleep products professionals
Editor in Chief Julie A. Palm 571-482-5442 email@example.com Associate Editor Barbara Nelles 336-303-1114 firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor Mary Best 571-482-5432 email@example.com Contributors Gary James Pam Lontos Gerry Morris Delia Passi Creative Director Stephanie Belcher The Jimmydog Design Group Vice President of Advertising Sales Kerri Bellias 336-945-0265 firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Production Manager Debbie Robbins 571-482-5443 email@example.com Circulation Manager Mary Rulli 336-491-0443 firstname.lastname@example.org Copy Editor Betsi Robinson Vol. 11, No. 3 ISSN 1538-702X Sleep Savvy is published eight times a year by the International Sleep Products Association, 501 Wythe St., Alexandria, VA 22314-1917. Phone 703-683-8371; fax 703-683-4503; website: www.sleepsavvymagazine.com. Advertising services: 1613 Country Club Drive, Reidsville, NC 27320. Phone 571-482-5443; fax 703-683-4503. Please send subscription orders and changes to: Sleep Savvy, P.O. Box 4678, Archdale, NC 27263 or fax 703-683-4503. Subscription policy & rates Retailers: All U.S. retailers qualify for free subscriptions, up to five 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. ©2012 by the International Sleep Products Association. No portion of the content may be reprinted without permission from Sleep Savvy. Printed in the United States.
WAKE UP CALL from the editor
Why the real world wins at retail
ith the rise of the Internet a decade ago, there was much gnashing of teeth about the fate of brick-and-mortar stores. Such has been the impact of Internet commerce that the term “brick-and-mortar store” came into widespread use. Before that, if you said “store,” people automatically conjured up an image of a physical place. What could a store be other than brick (or cinder block) and mortar? Clearly, the Internet has had a profound impact on retail, and countless retailers that were unable to compete with the convenience, low prices and free shipping offered by online competitors have closed their doors. Early on, most observers of the mattress industry thought brick-and-mortar retailers in our category could never be muscled out by online competitors. But today, there are plenty of Internet-only companies successfully selling beds to consumers. There is almost no commercial activity that can’t be done on a laptop or smartphone. We can pay bills, manage retirement accounts, hire service providers, book travel, prepare our taxes and, of course, purchase every type of product imaginable. It’s fast. It’s easy. But, frankly, it’s kind of boring. Whether we’re banking or buying boots, the experience is the same: We’re looking at a screen and typing—or swiping—with a couple of fingers and thumbs. As humans, we have five senses and all five need to be engaged for us to feel vital and fully alive. Walk into a store and your eyes will take in the atmosphere and merchandising. You can touch the products. Your sense
of smell will be triggered (hopefully in a good way). At the best stores, you’ll have a pleasant conversation with a retail sales associate, who might even offer you a beverage. It’s a rich, engaging process with each store offering its own unique experience. Even younger consumers—the same ones who seem permanently tethered to their electronic devices— are craving real-world encounters. A recent survey found that more than two-thirds of 18- to 25-year-olds prefer shopping for items such as clothes and shoes in stores rather than online. (See “Snooze News” in the March 2012 Sleep Savvy.) Consumer trend firm Trendwatching.com argues that rather than withering in the face of online commerce, some savvy brick-and-mortar stores are enjoying a retail renaissance. (See “Consumer Check” on Page 31.) “Smart retailers are defying doom-and-gloom scenarios as they realize that shopping in the real world will forever satisfy consumers’ deeprooted needs for human contact, instant gratification, the promise of shared experiences and telling stories,” the story says. Correction The March 2012 Sleep Savvy “Cover Story” on adjustable bed bases incorrectly identified the maker of the iComfort mattress brand. It is produced by Serta. We regret the error. ● Julie A. Palm, editor in chief
SleepSavvy • April 2012
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SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use
The Washington Post
Better Sleep Council & ISPA give mattress tips
Readers of The Washington Post have received sound mattress-buying advice, compliments of the International Sleep Products Association and its consumer education arm, the Better Sleep Council. The Feb. 23 article, “Handy Guide: Mattresses That Get Nodding Approval,” gave simple tips for mattress shopping and a few basic industry statistics. Also included in the piece were sections on recent innovations and hot products, including gel technology and adjustable bases. ISPA was mentioned in the story’s introduction, recommending that consumers replace their mattress every seven years. “The bed should be your oasis,” Karin Mahoney, BSC director of communications, told the paper. An online version, “Handy Guide: Buying a Mattress,” paralleled the print story with similar tips and advice. And Mahoney hosted an online, real-time question-and-answer session on buying the right mattress. The web chat featured live questions from participants, who asked everything from “What’s the best mattress for someone with disabilities?” to “How do I know a store is safe and reputable?”
That’s easily defined— it’s other people’s money.
ISPA proposes national program for recycling used mattresses
he International Sleep Products Association has proposed federal legislation, the Used Mattress Recycling Act, to create a national program for recycling used mattress parts. The legislation would protect the industry from potentially damaging costs and inefficiencies that will result as multiple states pursue their own stand-alone legislation. Specifically, the bill would: ● Create a Mattress Recycling Council. The new, nonprofit, volunteer-led group would represent the needs of manufacturers, retailers, consumers and government and would support the development of a national recycling program. ● Collect a single small, visible fee for mattress recovery at each point of sale that would be remitted to the Mattress Recycling Council.
● Combat illegitimate mattress scavenging and “renovator” operations that are unsanitary and dangerous to consumers and the mattress industry’s reputation. ● Operate with oversight from the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the leader of a business-supportive, cabinet-level agency. Once the bill is enacted, the program would be initiated only after members of the industry have had an opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposed national solution and voted on that proposal through an industrywide referendum. For more information on why a national solution is needed, an update on state efforts to impose costly and inefficient obligations on the mattress industry, and how you can help support ISPA’s federal effort, check www.sleepproducts.org.
SleepSavvy • April 2012
stuff you can use
Sleep Council sheds light on sleepy U.K. students
America’s most sleep-deprived workers
new study of the sleep habits of American workers offers some surprising findings about the nation’s most well-rested and sleep-deprived professions. The ranking reveals that the most sleep-deprived workers get only about seven hours of sleep a night, according to research gathered from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey and analyzed by mattress retailer Sleepy’s. People in well-rested professions didn’t fare much better, averaging only about 20 minutes more sleep than their sleep-starved counterparts. Least-rested professions 1. Home health aides 2. Lawyers 3. Police officers 4. Physicians and paramedics 5. Economists 6. Social workers 7. Computer programmers 8. Financial analysts 9. Plant operators 10. Secretaries
6 SleepSavvy • April 2012
Well-rested professions 1. Forest and logging workers 2. Hairstylists 3. Sales representatives 4. Bartenders 5. Construction workers 6. Athletes 7. Landscapers 8. Engineers 9. Aircraft pilots 10. Teachers
rimary-school teachers in the United Kingdom say the lack of sleep among students ages 4 to 11 is having a devastating effect in school, according to research from the Sleep Council, the consumer arm of the National Bed Federation, a trade association representing the bedding industry in the United Kingdom. According to the survey, which was released to coincide with the U.K.’s National Bed Month in March, nine out of 10 teachers complained that students are so tired, they’re unable to pay attention in class. More than a third said that lack of sleep is a daily problem in the classroom. Nearly nine out of 10 teachers felt distractions in students’ bedrooms, such as video games, TVs, etc., were the root of their sleep-related problems, while eight out 10 think parents aren’t being strict enough about enforcing bedtimes. For two-thirds of teachers, the problem is so serious they think the long-term progress of their students could be affected, while nearly half said lack of sleep made children unruly and badly behaved. On a positive note, more than half of those questioned agreed that the brightest children in the classroom are the most wellrested and awake. The poll of 250 teachers is part of the Sleep Council’s “Better Brains with More Sleep” campaign, a new sleep awareness project in schools that aims to teach schoolchildren the importance of a good night’s sleep.
stuff you can use
Human nature dictates that people have a hard time genuinely connecting with, being close to or really trusting other humans who (pretend to) have no weaknesses, flaws or mistakes—don’t assume brands are any different.—Trendwatching.com
Cooling down hot customers
eyond developing a thick skin, there is a systematic approach you can use for dealing with angry people. Kelly Gurnett, aka Cordelia, who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, offers these strategies to diffuse volatile situations of all varieties—from impossible customers to supplier meltdowns. ● Kill ’em with kindness. “It’s hard to maintain a good rage when you’re faced with someone who insists on remaining calm, polite and reasonable,” Gurnett says. Be nice, let the customer vent, show you are on her side and offer comforting words, such as, “What can we do to make this right?” ● Be firm. While being patient and empathetic, remember the boundaries of acceptable behavior. “Some people use anger as a battling ram, hoping to get their way simply by beating their opponent into submission,” Gurnett says. “Make it clear that they won’t achieve anything by being hostile. If things get out of hand, don’t be afraid to tell someone that if they can’t conduct themselves professionally, you will hang up or walk away.” ● Resist the urge to fight back. It’s often hard to hold your ground and be understanding when a customer is cursing and insulting you. But don’t inflame the situation by giving as good as you’re getting. Remove yourself from the situation if you start to lose your temper. “If it’s a phone call, transfer the call to someone else who can handle it or ask to call the person back when you can both discuss this more rationally,”
Gurnett says. “If it’s an in-person confrontation, simply say you need some air before you lose your cool and excuse yourself.” ● Try to respect the person. Avoid talking down to a customer who’s throwing a temper tantrum. It only makes things worse. Everyone has bad days so try to talk to the customer “as if they’re a reasonable, respectable adult—even if they’re acting like a screaming, out-of-control toddler,” Gurnett says. ● Listen for the real problem. “Oftentimes people aren’t angry for the reason we think they are,” Gurnett says. A customer may be complaining about an expired coupon, but she’s really upset about something a retail sales associate said to her. Get to the root of the problem by making comments such as, “It sounds like you’re upset with _______” or “So what you’re saying is, you’d like to see_______.” ● Speak slowly. Talk in a soft, measured tone. If you speak too quickly, the customer can become more nervous, frustrated and frantic. ● Don’t take it personally. Try not to feel crushed because you’re someone’s verbal punching bag, especially if you didn’t create the problem. Remember that the customer may not be directly mad at you—she’s upset with a store policy, frustrated by the stress of shopping or is crabby because she didn’t get enough sleep last night. “Distance yourself from any feelings of resentment that will only add to the negativity,” Gurnett says. ● Apologize, genuinely. If the problem is your fault, own up to it and don’t make excuses. We all make mistakes. “Just apologize, genuinely and promptly, and ask what you can do to rectify the situation,” Gurnett says. “In some cases, that will make you look more professional than anything else.” ● Let it go. Sometimes even the most seasoned professionals can’t de-escalate every person’s ire. “Just know you did your best and try not to let it get to you,” Gurnett says.
SleepSavvy • April 2012
stuff you can use
The restful life of a sleep tourist A goal Breus shared these suggestions “for a do-it-yourself sleep vacation that won’t require you to pack a bag.” Unplug all electronic devices—cellphones, computers, TVs, etc. Give your bedroom a makeover with a new mattress, pillows and shades. De-clutter your sleep space and add a white noise or sound machine. Relax your mind and body with healthy practices, such as meditation and yoga. Treat yourself to a massage and hit the gym for a workout and sauna afterward.
rom a “sleep experience package” in London’s Milestone Hotel to the “rest and rejuvenation retreat” at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Ariz., elite hotels increasingly cater to a sleep-starved clientele.
Dreamy accommodations and indulgent amenities include pillow menus, nap bars and snore-absorption rooms. Not in your budget? At HuffingtonPost.com, clinical psychologist and sleep expert Dr. Michael
without a plan is just
—Antoine de Saint Exupery
BEDDING BIZ BEAT Robust sales figures kicked off the new year as wholesale dollars for mattresses and foundations jumped 29% over January 2011, according to the Bedding Barometer, a monthly tracking of the U.S. sales activity of mattress manufacturers published by the International Sleep Products Association. Unit shipments rose by a healthy 18.5% for the month compared with January 2011, while the average unit selling price increased 8.8%.
Mattresses & Foundations in Millions of Wholesale Dollars Sample of Leading Producers
Percent change 12.3%
Percent change +12.6%
Percent change +12.5%
Percent change +14.4%
Percent change +20.2%
Percent change +29%
■ 2010 ■ 2011 ■ 2012
8 SleepSavvy • April 2012
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stuff you can use
Does poor sleep predict Alzheimer’s?
Poor sleep may be linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to recent research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th annual meeting in New Orleans April 21-28. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis tested the sleep patterns of 100 people ages 45 to 80 who weren’t suffering from dementia. Half of the group, however, had a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists found that 25% of the participants had evidence of the Alzheimer’s disease marker called amyloid plaques, which can appear years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease begin. The average time a person spent in bed during the study was about eight hours, but, due to short awakenings in the night, the average sleep time was 6½ hours. The study concluded that “efficient sleepers”—people who spend 85% of their time in bed actually sleeping—were less likely to have the markers of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease than those who slept less efficiently.
100 years of sleep-deprived kids Parents have long fretted about the amount of shut-eye their children need and are getting. Researchers at the University of South Australia in Adelaide tracked sleep studies and recommendations from 1897 to 2009 and compared them with how many hours kids actually slept over the years. The findings were published in the March issue of Pediatrics. On average, children’s daily sleep fell about 75 minutes over the decades, while sleep guidelines decreased about 70 minutes—an almost identical amount. Kids consistently slept about 37 minutes less than recommended. Authors of the study noted that regardless of time period, parents and doctors blamed “modern life” and overstimulation for preventing children from getting the sleep they needed.
10 SleepSavvy • April 2012
Southerners sleepiest, map shows
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have put sleeplessness on the map—literally. Using data from a 2006 telephone survey of 157,877 adults conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see related story below), the research team found that residents of Southern states suffer from the most sleep problems and daytime fatigue. Residents on the West Coast report the least number of sleep-related problems. Researchers noted that the most-fatigued states— Oklahoma, West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama—also tend to have higher rates of health problems, such as obesity. “We should begin to use this data to track patterns of poor sleep and try to understand why these patterns occur,” says Dr. Michael A. Grandner, research associate at the university’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology and lead author of the study. “Sleep is such an important part of overall health, we need to do everything we can to help give a good night’s sleep to those in the highest-risk regions.” The study was published online in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, Vol. 8, No. 1.
Sleep may improve with age Contrary to conventional wisdom, older people have fewer problems sleeping than younger adults, a new study from the University of Pennsylvania shows. In fact, a good night’s sleep seems to improve consistently over a lifetime. Drawing from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s massive survey of more than 150,000 adults (see related story above), researchers concluded that, after factoring out sickness and depression, people in their 80s had the fewest complaints about their sleep patterns, people in middle age had the most and women reported more sleep problems than men. “This flies in the face of popular belief,” says Dr. Michael A. Grandner, research associate at the university’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology and lead author. “These results force us to rethink what we know about sleep in older people—men and women.” The study was published in the March issue of the journal Sleep.
The cover story
12 SleepSavvy â€˘ April 2012
marketplace Their role as influencers of other consumers grows
n American households, women serve as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief operating officer, chief purchasing officer and, increasingly, chief influencer. And when they head into the marketplace to make buying decisions, they don’t leave any of those hats behind, according to a new report, “Game Changers: Women Defining the New American Marketplace.” The report details the results of the “Women, Power & Money” study launched by global public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard in 2008 and repeated several times since then. The latest survey, “Wave Four,” was done in conjunction with Hearst Magazines and was conducted in September 2011 by Ipsos Mendelsohn. Women remain primary decision-makers in their households—although they share that responsibility as the ticket price of items climbs. It’s a role they relish—and one that’s only grown in importance since the studies began in 2008. “Her leadership style is collaborative,” the latest report says. “She readily shares decision-making responsibility and the credit that goes along with it. But her leadership style is also evolving and is now less about ‘doing it all herself’ and more about ‘leading the team.’ ” When making purchasing decisions, the overall economy remains a concern for women, and their choices typically are utilitarian and practical. In most products, they seek value, quality, performance and substance over style. Perhaps the most significant change in how a woman functions in the American marketplace is in her increasing role as an influencer. “Her social circles have expanded, beginning with social networking sites, and extending to a broader perspective that highly values gathering and disseminating information,” study authors say. “…She is a consumer, broadcaster and amplifier of ideas in the marketplace. Expect these recommendation and word-of-mouth dynamics to continue intensifying.” Looking at the survey results in more detail:
SleepSavvy • April 2012
THE COVER STORY
women & the marketplace Stressed but empowered The aftermath of the recession and the slow economic recovery have raised stress levels among American women. In 2008, 19% of women described themselves as stressed. In 2011, that number had nearly doubled to 33%. As the study says, “Economic stress remains both top of mind and deeply felt.” ● 75% of survey respondents agree, “I shop differently now than I did before the recession.”
●7 1% agree, “Life is more complex today than it was before the recession.” ● 58% agree, “Financially, I am worse off now than I was before the recession started.” Despite those worries, women generally feel empowered. When asked to describe themselves, the 12 adjectives women most often
Why women are the deciders Women cite a number of reasons why they take on the role of primary decision-maker: ● To save money ● Their partner doesn’t want to do it ● They make better decisions ● Nobody else will do it ● They have more available time ● They enjoy being in control ● They save time ● They care more ● Their spouse or partner made poor decisions in past
Helping her decide The top 10 types of information women say companies could provide to help them make purchasing decisions: Price........................................................................................................... 74% Quality of materials............................................................................... 38% Ratings/reviews from actual owners and users........................... 33% Quality of craftsmanship..................................................................... 29% Warranties and guarantees................................................................ 24% Quality of service................................................................................... 22% Elements of design and style............................................................. 20% Ratings/reviews from experts............................................................ 19% Direct comparisons to competitive choices................................... 18% The brand or company’s heritage..................................................... 16%
14 SleepSavvy • April 2012
chose were decidedly positive— caring (76%), friendly (76%), kind (73%), family-focused (72%), thoughtful (72%), helpful (71%), intelligent (63%), smart (61%), knowledgeable (57%), generous (57%), independent (56%) and happy (55%). Notably, in the new survey, women were more likely to describe themselves as ambitious (50% in 2011; 37% in 2008) and decisive (43% in 2011; 38% in 2008). Leading the team According to the report, the woman remains the agenda-setter in most American households, keeping both the big picture and the day-to-day details in mind. “But her leadership style is less about ‘doing it all herself’ and being Ms. Independence. Instead, it is a more collaborative and thoughtful approach, one in which she leads the team (at home and away) in developing and executing the agenda,” study authors say. “She readily shares both the decision-making responsibility and the credit that goes along with it.” According to the study: ● Two-thirds of married women say decision-making is shared in their households. ● For purchases of small-ticket items, women’s influence is great. Nearly 90% of women agree, “I am the one most responsible for purchasing household goods and services.” ● For purchases more than $500, roughly 85% of women say the buying decision should be joint. “Women who are the primary decision-makers do find the job more stressful and tiring, perhaps because they typically bring more thoughtful and nuanced approaches www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
THE COVER STORY
women & the marketplace to the job,” the study says. “Women who are primary decision-makers cite a host of reasons for holding the job, from greater enjoyment of the process to simply doing it better.” Expanding her influence Whether face to face with friends, colleagues and family or through social media channels, today’s American woman receives, processes and disseminates an enormous amount of information about products. “Simply put, she is becoming an even more important influencer in the marketplace,” the survey says. Half of women say, “I regularly influence friends and family to buy or not buy a particular product or service.” That’s up from just 31% in the 2008 survey. It’s a role they take
seriously. Some 54% agree, “I feel it is my responsibility to help friends and family make smart purchase decisions.” And 71% agree, “Today, I feel confident in my being a trusted source of information to others.” American women listen to others, as well. Some 79% agree, “Having someone I know and trust make a purchase recommendation for me is a great comfort.” Another 76% agree, “I have purchased or not purchased a particular product or brand because of something a friend or family member told me” and 68% agree, “If a friend or family member recommends a product, I am likely to try it.” Social networking is important to American women, with 73% saying they use Facebook and 65% reporting that they are a friend/
fan of a company, brand or product on Facebook, according to the report. A significant number also use LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and other services. “There’s no denying the impact of online social networks, but it is important to put their impact into context. Her online social networking represents only a portion of what she does online, and of course, what she does online is only a portion of her life,” survey authors say. “…In-person communications—in social gatherings, at work, in retail contexts—remain by far the most widely used methods for communication and influence.” As evidence, 52% of women said they had provided information or a recommendation in-person at a
SleepSavvy • April 2012
THE COVER STORY
women & the marketplace
How women shop for home furnishings
Information women use to make decisions
he “Wave Four of Women, Power & Money” study looked at how women gather information and make decisions about a variety of product categories. The following reflects their answers when asked about their habits and preferences regarding shopping for home furnishings and decor.
Quality of materials.................................................. 46%
Top information resources for women Friends, extended family and colleagues...................................................... 60% Spouse or partner..................................................... 58% In-store information or retail sales associate........................................... 57% Brochures and catalogs.......................................... 57% Internet........................................................................ 50%
16 SleepSavvy • March 2012
Price.............................................................................. 68% Quality of craftsmanship........................................ 59% Warranties and guarantees................................... 26% Ratings/reviews from other owners and users................................................ 16%
Advertising & marketing messages that capture women’s attention The price is easy to find.......................................... 47% They provide proof or details on its quality.......................................................... 47% They provide ratings/reviews from other sources.............................................. 25% They provide comparisons to competitors....................................................... 24% Figures are the percentage of women selecting each option.
THE COVER STORY
women & the marketplace
social gathering in the previous six months and 39% had done so inperson at work. By contrast, only 15% had shared information using a social networking site and only 6% has posted an online review or blog in the previous six months.
Pragmatic & practical When it comes to purchasing decisions, today’s American woman is decidedly pragmatic. “In general, her purchase criteria are substantive, practical and value-oriented,” study authors say.
When asked to list the brands they admire in a variety of categories, respondents chose solid, reputable brands over those that are trendier or offer more luxury. Among the most-cited brands of automobiles were Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota and Honda. Old Navy, Kohl’s and Macy’s topped the list when asked about apparel. In other categories, respondents cited Tylenol, Kraft and General Mills. “Her practical marketplace approach also underscores why she admires particular brands. Across virtually every category, ‘good’ and ‘quality’ are the terms she uses most, with price typically close behind,” the report says. “But good quality at a good price (in other words, value) is generally her top consideration.”
SleepSavvy • April 2012
THE COVER STORY
women & the marketplace
About the survey
n September 2008, global public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard launched “Women, Power & Money” with the goal of founding the definitive study of women in America. “Wave Two of Women, Power & Money” was conducted in November 2009; “Wave Three” in January 2010. In 2011, Fleishman-Hillard partnered with Hearst Magazines for “Wave Four.” The online survey was conducted by Ipsos Mendelsohn Sept. 8-15 among 1,270 women in the United States ages 25 to 69 with an annual household income of $25,000 or more. For comparison purposes, 263 men were surveyed, as well. Full details of the survey are available. For more information, contact: Nancy Bauer Deputy general manager/ Senior partner Fleishman-Hillard 404-739-0109 email@example.com
18 SleepSavvy • April 2012
Marlene Greenfield Vice president/ Executive director of research Hearst Magazines 212-649-4401 firstname.lastname@example.org
Changing the game Though the study finds broad similarities among segments of women, particularly in their role as influencers, report authors caution against looking for a one-size-fits-all solution to reaching female consumers. It’s incumbent upon retailers to know their own customers and to target product features, product selection, pricing, merchandising and advertising to them. But there is no doubt that, in the final analysis, women continue to change the dynamics of the American marketplace. “She calls the shots and makes the decisions. Her leadership is expanding, not diminishing,” the study concludes. “Any marketer or advertiser who continues to pretend otherwise does so at their own peril.” ●
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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Mattress Man Superstores Mattress Man is the public face of the retailer. Behind the scenes are Chris Hanson (left), operating manager, and Scott Felske, managing partner.
N.C. sleep shops find personality behind Mattress Man By Gary James Photography by Tim Barnwell
aunched just two years ago, the Mattress Man Superstores chain is quickly earning a reputation as the place to go for easy-to-shop, affordable, quality bedding in the Asheville, N.C., area. The secret weapon in its success? Mattress Man, a lovable, life-size mascot with a smiley face, bright eyes and blue tennis shoes who helps the growing three-store chain build awareness among consumers in its markets in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The idea for Mattress Man originated with Chris Hanson, a store manager for The Mattress Outlet, a 14-store sleep shop chain in the Tennessee markets of Knoxville and Chattanooga. Chris conceived Mattress Man as a graphic for The Mattress Outlet’s advertising. The character was so well received that the company used it as a springboard for a new group of stores in North Carolina. “We tried a six-month campaign SleepSavvy • April 2012
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
The retailer calls adjustable bases ‘positional foundations’ and does good business in the category.
in Tennessee with this character and it was a big hit,” says Scott Felske, who co-owns The Mattress Outlet with Mark Tanner and serves as managing partner of Mattress Man Superstores. “We decided to build a new group of stores where Mattress Man would be the public face of the company.” With the support of Simmons Bedding Co., which was looking to strengthen its presence in the Asheville area, Scott launched Mattress Man Superstores in the spring of 2010 with three partners—Chris, who serves as operating manager; Mark; and Keith Marks, another store manager with The Mattress Outlet chain. Together, the team has more than 50 years of experience in the mattress business. Targeted offerings The new N.C. stores—a 5,500-squarefoot site in Asheville and two smaller satellite stores in nearby Arden and Hendersonville—carry a focused lineup. In addition to Simmons, Mattress Man offers Tempur-Pedic and Kingsdown bed sets, and pillows and protectors from Leggett & Platt, I Love My Pillow and Primo. In January, Mattress Man Superstores rolled out a private-label program of two collections of pro-
22 SleepSavvy • April 2012
motional bedding from Englander. At the low end (starting at $99 twin and $199 queen), the Mountain Heritage collection features products tied to local landmarks, including Lake Lure, Laurel Valley and Mount LeConte. A step-up collection called the Great Estate features bedding from $699 to $899 that’s named for the Greenbrier, Grove Park Inn and other well-known mountain resorts. “These names are very recognizable in the Asheville area,” Chris says. “They reinforce our local ties and set us apart from the ‘big boys’ ”—the large chains that compete in the area, such as Ashley HomeStores, Mattress Firm and Rooms To Go. According to Chris, Mattress Man’s average sales ticket across all of its lines runs about $1,100. Activity is strongest between $1,000 and $2,000, with products from Simmons and Kingsdown, including its Blu-Tek line of gel, latex and memory foam mattresses. Tempur-Pedic also does well at all three stores, with queen sets topping out at $3,999. “Like everybody else in the industry, we’re seeing the most action right now at the low and high ends,” Chris says. “There’s not much happening in the middle.”
The power of adjusting—and of adjustables In response to this trend, Mattress Man continually adjusts its assortment, removing slow sellers and beefing up its selection where it sees the most opportunities. “We take into consideration the dynamics and demographics of each store, and we talk to our salespeople to get their input on what’s working and what’s not,” Chris says. “We want them to have confidence that they can sell what’s on the floor. We’re never afraid to make a change and try something new.” One bright spot at Mattress Man Superstores is the “positional foundation” category, the retailer’s label for adjustable beds. The retailer’s attachment rate for motion foundations, such as Tempur-Pedic’s Ergo base, on mattress purchases more than $999 is a lofty 45%. Recognizing Mattress Man’s performance, Tempur-Pedic recently asked the retailer to apply for its new Elite dealer program, which will provide higher-volume stores with special attention. “Positional foundations have a major presence on our floors,” Chris says. “We train our salespeople to demonstrate the benefits of these bases, regardless of the brand of mattress that is being shopped.” Chris adds that it’s important to discuss the benefits of an adjustable base early in the sales conversation so that consumers can factor that into buying decisions. “Most retailers wait until the end to bring that up and that’s a mistake—the consumer feels like they’re just being squeezed for more money,” he says. Asking consumers to try an adjustable bed at the front end of the sales process also has another advantage, according to Scott. “We tell them that we’re showing them the positional foundation because we want them to be as comfortable as possible,” he says. “Once www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Mattress Man Superstores organizes beds by price—and adds in bedroom furniture to make the showroom homey.
they experience it, they really see the difference.” Bedding as an investment Another tool Mattress Man uses to encourage consumers to step up to higher-quality bedding is 60-month, same-as-cash financing on TempurPedic and other high-end products. Unlike many of its competitors, which pitch this type of financing for limited intervals, such as 12 or 24 months, Mattress Man offers its plan yearround. The retailer promotes the financing prominently on its price tags, showing consumers how affordable bedding can be when it’s viewed as a daily investment in better sleep. “We show how much the cost is per day when the purchase is financed over 60 months,” Scott says. “For a $2,000 bed, the cost would be just over $1 a day.” The approach makes more expensive beds more budget-friendly. “When a consumer is considering whether to spend $2,999 or $3,999, the salesperson can explain that, with www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
the financing, the difference is only about 55 cents a day rather than an immediate outlay of $1,000 more,” Scott says. A ‘pace and space’ approach To provide easily accessible information, Mattress Man attaches large (11-inch by 14-inch) tags to the foot of each of its models that can be easily read by shoppers, even when they’re testing beds. In addition to pricing, the tags list key features and benefits. The retailer also hands consumers a custom “Mattress Guide” flier as soon as they come into the store. It provides details on mattress comfort, questions to ask to determine which bed might be best and eight reasons to buy from Mattress Man Superstores. “When a customer comes in, we welcome them and hand them a brochure and a free pen for taking notes,” Chris says. “Rather than immediately pounding them with questions, our salespeople encourage them to walk around and see what we have to offer.”
After a consumer has begun to identify an area of interest, a retail sales associate approaches her and provides additional help. “Most stores give you one of two experiences: They ignore you or they’re all over you,” Scott says. “Instead, we teach ‘pace and space.’ ” Having the ability to tour the store independently, with the “Mattress Guide” in hand, empowers consumers. “They are in control of the buying process instead of being at the mercy of the salesperson,” Scott says. Of course, once sales associates engage with consumers, their goal is to close the sale, say Scott and Chris. But, since they’ve allowed the shopper time to identify the price range and types of products she may be interested in, RSAs enter into the discussion with a better focus than if they had to conduct “20 questions” at the door. An inviting atmosphere Mattress Man Superstores’ product assortment is largely grouped by price SleepSavvy • April 2012
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
so that shoppers can easily zero in on products that best fit their budgets. At the Asheville location—the chain’s largest—about 40 sets are on display on a typical day. That’s down from about 55 sets when store opened, Chris says. “We took out some models to make the store more open and inviting,” he says. “We wanted to give consumers room to breathe rather than be faced with a never-ending sea of mattresses. It’s a ‘less is more’ philosophy.” When the store opened, the offerings also included bedroom furniture. That proved to be a costly distraction, with inventory and return challenges. Today, Mattress Man still shows some furniture, but it’s only for display purposes so that consumers can get a sense for how various bed sets might look in their homes.
24 SleepSavvy • April 2012
The Mattress Man On display in the Asheville store is the Mattress Man costume, a plush outfit created by Disney supplier Facemakers that staff members can don for special in-store events or appearances at local home and garden shows. One upcoming event is the Asheville Home & Garden Expo, slated for April 21-22. “For that show, we’ll set up three or four beds, along with a couple of positional foundations, to give consumers a feeling for what we have to offer,” Chris says. “We have the mascot there to shake hands and greet people. It’s amazing how many people rush up to get their picture taken with him. The main value for us is the positive PR, but these appearances also lead to quite a few sales down the road, too.”
The retailer keeps Mattress Man top of mind with the public by using the character as a standard icon in its TV and social media ads, including on Facebook where it posts a message that says: “Mattress Man is my hero. Click here to find out why.” The link takes interested Web surfers to the retailer’s website for more details. In addition, each store positions a nylon, blow-up version of the character out front to catch the eye of passersby. “Using this character positions us as a fun, relaxed, family-friendly business,” Chris says. RSA-friendly, too In a short time, the Mattress Man Superstores chain also has positioned itself as an enjoyable place to work. Many of its sales associates joined the company from other sleep shops,
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
drawn by a high commission structure and a supportive, hands-on management team. “We’ve attracted a lot of skilled people,” Chris says. “They like the fact that we keep our sales team small and that they’re not competing with four or five other salespeople on a Saturday.” Mattress Man operates with a team of roughly a dozen people, including five sales associates and three store managers. In addition, Bryan Harris serves as buyer and sales manager; Vicky Rozelle is office manager. The company’s owners take turns working the various store floors. The key traits that Mattress Man looks for in its RSAs are friendliness and confidence. Product knowledge is a plus, but not a requirement,
as evidenced by a recent hire with no prior involvement in bedding “who’s doing great,” Chris says. For all new hires, with or without experience, there’s a training program so that everybody understands the company’s culture and approach to business. An important part of that culture is a commitment to satisfying the customer.
“We work extra hard to make sure our customers have a good experience, and if they’re not happy with their purchase, we’ll do whatever it takes to change that,” Chris says. The philosophy carries into delivery, which Mattress Man outsources to Adam Dowers. Formerly the delivery vendor for The Mattress Outlet chain in Tennessee, Adam focuses entirely on Mattress Man now with a white-glove delivery service. Based on the success Mattress Man Superstores has had so far—growth that “exceeds expectations and is ahead of industry norms,” Scott says—two more stores are planned for the Asheville market this year. The ownership team also is considering the launch of an entirely new sleep shop format with a cutting-edge approach down the road. ●
SleepSavvy • April 2012
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BE MY GUEST by Pam Lontos
Testimonials: An overlooked advertising tool that offers maximum return—and sings your store’s praises Who are you more likely to believe: a mattress rep telling you how great a certain mattress is or a recommendation from someone who actually owns and sleeps on that mattress? If you’re like most people, the words from another product user or customer pull more weight, even more than the best-written ad copy. That’s why no matter what you’re selling, you should use testimonials from satisfied customers in every ad and marketing piece you create. One reason people don’t buy a certain product or service is because they’re afraid of making the wrong decision. When they see someone else—someone like them—endorse a certain type of mattress or mattress store, that fear is minimized. That’s why testimonials are a powerful way of influencing others to feel comfortable buying the bedding products you sell. Unfortunately, few retailers actively seek testimonials from their customers. They mistakenly wait for people to give them testimonials and when they do get them, they don’t know how to use them effectively. In www.sleepsavvymagazine.com www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
reality, getting and using strong testimonials is easier than you think. Just follow these tips: How to get them ● Choose satisfied customers who represent your target demographic. People who represent your ideal customer write the best testimonials, so be specific about whom you solicit. Look over your customer files and choose people who exemplify the best-case scenario for your store. Say to them, “I’d love for you to share your experience buying this mattress. Would you please write a short testimonial?” Most people will cheerfully agree. Because you want more happy customers, let their words sell for you. ● Offer to write the testimonial. Often, if someone declines your request to write a testimonial, it’s because she’s too busy or feels she doesn’t have adequate writing skills. In that case, offer to write it yourself. Simply say, “I’ll be glad to write the testimonial for you. Just tell me what you’d like to say. You can review what I write and we can use it as is or you can change it.” Most people will leave the testimonial as is, happy they didn’t have to take the time to write it. ● Look through your past correspondence. Chances are you’re sitting on a pile of testimonials and don’t even know it. Go back SleepSavvy • April 2012
BE MY GUEST by Pam Lontos
through your emails, website comments, social media sites, blogs and paper correspondence from customers. Are there a few nice sentences in some of those messages? If so, ask those people if you can use their words in your advertising and marketing materials. They’ll often agree. How to write them ● Show results. Regardless of who writes it, the testimonial needs to discuss specifically the customer’s satisfaction with the mattress she purchased and her experience shopping in your store. A testimonial that simply says how nice you are is not saying anything meaningful to the reader. A specific testimonial will speak to results. For example: “The mattress I bought from Sidney’s Sleep Shop ended my 20-year battle with back pain,” “Sidney’s Sleep Shop helped me find the perfect mattress and foundation—even great pillows and linens” or “We decided on an adjustable bed and it’s the best
investment we’ve ever made!” The more specific a testimonial is, the stronger it sells for you. Specific testimonials take away the fear of making the wrong decision and help people feel safe about making the purchase. ● Keep it short. Each word of the testimonial should have value. If someone writes a page-long testimonial, edit it to address only her experience with your store. This doesn’t mean you change the intent of what someone writes; you simply delete words and sentences that don’t contribute to the meaning. And remember: While a testimonial should be concise, it still needs to be conversational and authentic. For example, if someone writes a page about everything your store manager did to help her rest-test dozens of mattresses before finding the right one, you can condense it to one sentence: “Your salesman was so helpful and patient with me finding the perfect mattress, I wrote about the experience on my
Specific testimonials take away the fear of making the wrong decision and help people feel safe about making the purchase.
28 SleepSavvy • April 2012
blog.” Often, the more words you take out, the stronger the testimonial becomes. It’s also easier to read and will stand out more. ● Include a name and title when possible. Fully identifying the person who has given the testimonial will make her words more believable and credible. Rather than credit a testimonial to “Susan, Idaho,” use the person’s full name and location whenever possible— “Susan Sanders, Boise, Idaho.” Most people will be happy to include their full name and other information because one of the strongest human desires is to feel appreciated and recognized. Getting their name in print fulfills that need and often is perceived as fun. How to use them ● Include a testimonial or two in your ads and marketing pieces. Whether you’re creating a print, online, radio or TV ad, be sure to include testimonials that are a good fit for what you’re advertising. For print, it’s best to have testimonials separate from the main text rather than weave them into the ad copy. For radio and TV, either the announcer or an actor can recite the testimonial. If your customer is agreeable, ask her to appear in your ad to give the testimonial personally. Other marketing pieces in which you can feature testimonials include brochures, postcards, billboards and newsletters. Be sure to consider social media in your marketing plans. The popularity of Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites has opened up an increasingly effective and expanding arena that’s perfect for touting customer referrals. Social media is one of the main influences of buying decisions for teens and adults. According to Knowledge www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
BE MY GUEST by Pam Lontos
Networks, a San Francisco-based online research firm, in 2011: ● 23.1 million people discovered new brands or products through social media. ● 17.8 million people were strongly influenced in their purchases by opinions in social media, up 19% from 2010. ● 15.1 million people referred to social media before making purchase decisions, up 29% from 2010. ● Create a book of testimonials. Each time you receive a complimentary letter from a customer, highlight its most glowing parts—comments that promote the benefits to the customer—frame it and display it in your store. You also can add testimonials to your website or Facebook
page. There’s no limit to how many testimonials you can include. Slip the best testimonials in a “leave behind” kit—the package of information you give to people who are involved in your marketing and advertising efforts, such as an ad agency, communications director or copywriter. The ultimate sales tool The next time you write copy for an advertisement or marketing
piece—and struggle with what information to include—simply turn to your past testimonials. It’s always better when someone else sings your praises, so let your customers sell for you. The sooner you start using testimonials in every marketing message you create, the sooner you’ll realize that testimonials are the ultimate sales tool. ●
Pam Lontos is president of Pam Lontos Consulting and consults with businesses and experts in the areas of sales, marketing and publicity. Lontos founded PR/PR Public Relations and is a past vice president of sales for Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting, where she increased sales by 500%. She is the author of I See Your Name Everywhere: Leverage the Power of the Media to Grow Your Fame, Wealth and Success. For more information on her consulting services, call 407-522-8630, email email@example.com or visit www.pamlontos.com.
SleepSavvy • April 2012
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CONSUMER CHECK profiling your customer
Shoppers head to stores in retail renaissance
hile traditional retail is facing serious challenges in the wake of the economic crisis and the rise of e-commerce, most people do—and will continue to—enjoy shopping in the real world where items are tangible and people are face to face. In fact, according to findings from the consumer trends firm Trendwatching.com released in September, rather than retail ruin, a retail renaissance is in the making. Smart retailers are defying doom-and-gloom scenarios, as they realize that shopping in the real world will forever satisfy consumers’ deeprooted needs for human contact, instant gratification and the promise of shared experiences. As a result, a flurry of new store formats, technologies, capabilities and products are delighting retail customers around the world. Four key factors are propelling this retail re-awakening.
For starters, the online world is now completely accessible, even when you’re offline—that is, away from any kind of online device that is too clunky to be used on the go. That’s good news for consumers because, while they want to be online 24/7, they still prefer to live in the world of warm bodies rather than cyberspace. For retailers, this means a world where not only have consumer expectations been set by a decade of shopping online, but also one where consumers can access everything they love about e-commerce—convenience, the ability to learn about other consumers’
Putting retail ideas to work ● In April 2011, Google introduced a service called local product availability. The feature allows customers to see which products are in stock at participating local retailers. ● In March 2011, U.S. retailer Gap launched a name-your-own price website, Gapmyprice.com, where shoppers could decide how much they wanted to pay for a pair of khakis and make an offer online. The retailer then put forward its price. Consumers could accept or make another bid, until a final price was agreed on. Successful bidders collected their khakis from a local store. ● U.S. lifestyle store Bed, Bath & Beyond has embraced the “order online/pick up offline” concept with its Shop
experiences, price transparency and virtually endless choices—out in the real world, too. Consider these statistics: ● Eight out of 10 consumers research purchases online. While 42% research online and buy online, 51% research online and then buy in-store. ● Consumers who receive information from more than one source—a store, online, a mobile device or catalog—before they make a purchase spend 82% more money per transaction than customers who shop only in stores. ● Of the 40% of U.S. consumers who own smartphones, 70% use them while shopping in-store. ● 74% of smartphone shoppers made a purchase as a result of using their smartphone. Of these, 76% have purchased in-
Your Local Store & Pick Up Near Your School service. The program enables students to stock up on dormroom essentials, such as bedding, towels and accessories, at any store and have them delivered to a store near their college. Students avoid shipping costs and the move to college is easier. ● My Best Fit is a free service available in a number of U.S. malls. Customers enter a whole-body scanner where they are advised which brand sizes will fit them best. ● In July 2011, the U.K.-based supermarket Tesco piloted free in-store Wi-Fi, allowing customers to check prices and read product reviews online. Nordstrom, Sam’s Club and Home Depot in the United States offer similar services in many stores.
SleepSavvy • April 2012
profiling your customer store and 59% online. Only 35% have made a purchase via their smartphone. ● Mobile barcode scanning, including traditional UPC barcodes and newer quick response codes, increased 1,600% globally during 2010. This is good news for retailers. Not only do consumers still enjoy the real world, but online benefits are moving “offline” far quicker and more successfully than the other way around. No wonder smart retailers increasingly cater to consumers’ appetite for information, mimicking—or actually bringing—the online experience to their in-store shoppers. They offer everything from in-store price comparisons and customer reviews to suggested product pairings.
32 SleepSavvy • April 2012
Doing this increases sales and improve customer satisfaction by reassuring shoppers that they are purchasing the best of the best at the lowest possible price. Add to this everything from e-coupons to “buy online/pick up offline” services—online developments actually make the real world’s enduring advantages more desirable.
“Shopping moments” are now ubiquitous online and offline. In other words, during the past few years, smart retailers have looked hard at what would make their stores unique and forever desirable. Retailers that have been relentlessly reinventing themselves understand that while “on-off” brings extra transparency and information into
stores, shopping isn’t purely functional. For a large number of consumers, going shopping is a leisure activity—a way of relaxing, a source of entertainment or a chance to meet up with friends and share experiences. When consumers go shopping in person, they increasingly expect to feel or experience something that they can’t get online—a compelling spectacle, exclusive products, the ability to test and feel items or education about how to use products. There always will be shoppers who want the convenience and instant gratification of buying in a physical store. Retailers who make the process so enjoyable or personal that consumers don’t feel the need to compare prices online will thrive. Just look at Apple stores!
profiling your customer
Instant status fix
Whether it’s the sensory impact of walking around a store, flaunting shopping bags, being served by caring sales associates or purchasing items in an environment with other people looking on, a shopping experience in the real world delivers instant status gratification in a way that shopping online can’t. The search for social status underpins much of consumer behavior, which means real-world shopping will remain a popular way for consumers to receive their status fix.
Finally, consider our society’s unrelenting urbanization and the expansion of consumer culture it brings. Rapid urban-
ization is one of the biggest macro trends of our time. As a retailer, you can’t go wrong innovating to attract existing and newly minted “city consumers.” Cities are retail nirvanas; urban culture is retail culture. Urban dwellers have more disposable income, more leisure time and virtually limitless opportunities to spend it. As a result, retail therapy will remain a key prescription for urban consumers. While this is obviously true in mature markets that already are urban, the real story is in emerging markets, where urban migra-
tion unleashes tens of thousands of new, eager consumers into the retail arena every day. Here are a few statistics to consider: ● Between 2001 and 2010, retail sales in developing markets grew from 35% of the global total to 42%, with per capita growth of nearly 100%, from $2,009 to $3,847. ● Asian retail sales are forecast to grow from $5.4 trillion in 2010 to $8.5 trillion in 2014. Retail sales in North America and Western Europe are forecast to be $4.5 trillion and $2.7 trillion, respectively. ●
To learn more To read the complete trend briefing from Trendwatching.com, visit http://trendwatching.com/trends/retailrenaissance.
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The smart read for retailers The smart place to advertise To subscribe, go to www.sleepsavvymagazine.com—subscriptions are FREE for U.S. retailers. For advertising information and a copy of our 2012 Media Kit, contact Kerri Bellias, sales director, at 336-945-0265 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
SleepSavvy • April 2012
HER BED POST by Delia Passi
It’s how you play the game
few years ago, we did a study in conjunction with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania titled “Men Buy, Women Shop.” One of the observations that came from the study was that men are much more goal oriented when making a purchase, while women are more interested in the process. Men seek to reach their goal, whether it’s the purchase of a shirt, mattress or groceries. The single most important thing to most men, according to the study, is how close they can park to the store’s door. Why? So they can get in and out quickly—and get home to watch the game. For most women, shopping is the game. Women are much more involved in not only getting what they want, but also in making sure they check out their alternatives. Men tell me that they can buy a white shirt in a matter of minutes, even seconds. Women will take an afternoon to buy just the right white blouse. When men shop for something, they “See,” then “Think” and then “Act.” Women are more likely to “See,” then “Think and Feel” and then “Act.” Their decision needs to feel right, as well as make practical and economic sense. If you see a female customer pause and appear to be thinking about her choices, she may actually be listening to her feelings. And then she may decide to go home and talk it over with her friends and family until her decision feels right. Knowing that women and men relate differently to the shopping experience can help you serve them differently. Get to the point with men, but show women a selection and then give them space and time to come to a decision.
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Delia Passi, the nation’s leading expert on selling to women, is president and chief executive of Medelia Inc. She’s also founder of WomenCertified, which awards businesses and brands the Women’s Choice Award for meeting a higher standard of customer experience among women. Restonic is proud to have been awarded the Women’s Choice Award by WomenCertified. Sign up for Twitter and follow Restonic at www.twitter.com/restonicbeds#. See how Restonic is helping you reach your retail sales dreams!
34 SleepSavvy • April 2012
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CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris
Transforming selling steps: Closing the sale
n the March issue of Sleep Savvy, I discussed the concept of “guided discovery,” a powerful, relational and consultative approach that engages the shopper in meaningful conversation. It’s highly effective because it focuses on the goal of mattress sales rather than the methods. This column continues that discussion, addressing the most important aspect of the selling process—closing the sale. Instead of using a manipulative technique to make a sale, guided discovery helps a shopper choose to buy a mattress that will improve her quality of life. Going through a sales presentation without making the sale is a waste of everyone’s time and does a disservice to the shopper. People who leave your store without buying will most certainly buy from a competitor. Overcoming objections Most objections occur during the selection process when shoppers are comparing various models. (See “Closing Words” in the March 2012 Sleep Savvy.) Objections typically are requests for more information. People want validation or reassurance that they’re not paying too much and are making the right choice. Often, retail sales associates try to overcome price objections and reduce a shopper’s resistance by stepping her down to less expensive models. It’s a shame to walk away from a mattress model that a shopper has expressed interest in. The best way to overcome price objections is to switch the conversation’s focus away from the mattress itself and toward what the mattress
36 SleepSavvy • April 2012
can do for a consumer: “This is a great mattress. Let me tell you how it can help you sleep better.” The real point of knowing and using product knowledge is to add value by focusing on mattress benefits rather than features. People don’t particularly like to shop for mattresses and really don’t care how they are made. But they do want to sleep well, feel good and be happy. Prerequisites for closing the sale ● Objectivity It’s important to focus on each shopper individually and understand her unique needs, with the goal of finding the best choice for her. Almost every model is right for someone. ● Understanding RSAs must know the positive impact that sleeping on a top-quality mattress has on a person’s quality of life. Speaking from personal experience is the best sales tool of all. ● Confidence RSAs must believe they have the ability to help every shopper find the right mattress and that it is in the customer’s best interest to buy it from them. The three Rs of closing the sale ● Review Begin by recapping the process of how you discovered and addressed the shopper’s needs and concerns: “Let’s go over how we determined that this mattress is the best one for you.” ● Reassure Validate and congratulate her for making a good choice: “This is an excellent mattress. You’ve made a great choice.”
● Request It’s important to remember that many shoppers still will have a reluctance to “pull the trigger.” Asking for the sale makes it easier for them to say, “Yes.” It can be as simple as: “Let’s not keep you waiting. When can we deliver it?” or “Can we write it up?” Using guided discovery makes asking for the sale a mere formality because shoppers have been empowered by being involved and engaged in the process. Instead of “being sold,” they choose to buy. Even if it seems that everything is settled and the shopper is ready to buy, it’s not unusual for her to raise additional objections. When that happens, stay relaxed and confident. Keep her engaged by asking questions, listening carefully and addressing her concerns. Then repeat the closing process. Transforming traditional selling steps into guided discovery makes selling mattresses a more pleasant and rewarding experience for everyone involved. Most importantly, it helps close the sale. ● Gerry Morris is an author, consultant and training coach. With more than 20 years of experience in the mattress industry, Gerry has helped manufacturers, retailers and retail sales associates around the world increase their sales. To find out what Gerry can do for your company, call 903-456-2015, email email@example.com.Visit Gerry’s new website and blog at http://sellmorebeds.com. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
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