Bridging the gender gap
Why women & men think differently— as shoppers, workers and managers
RETAIL ROAD TRIP
Three savvy shoppers sample Ikea’s unique experience first hand BE MY GUEST
Furniture pro says women are better at selling bedding SNOOZE NEWS
ISPA Forecast: Sales recovery is just around the corner
very very quiet
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IN THIS ISSUE where to find it
THE COVER STORY he buys, she shops
When it comes to shopping, women are from Nordstrom and men are from Sears, according to research on how gender differences play out in male and female behavior in the retail store. Plus, the authors of a new book on gender science explore the differences in the way male and female brains operate.
WAKE UP CALL
from the editor’s desk Forget sexism—gender science helps us take a reality-based look at our differences and offers a tremendous opportunity for progress.
BE MY GUEST
stuff you can use The Saturday Evening Post recommends mattress replacement after 5-7 years; French out-sleep Americans; Better Sleep Council spokeswoman writes about mattresses for Huffington Post; sales tools you don’t want to use; ISPA forecasts return to sales growth in the second half; best employee incentive package isn’t cash; the tai chi way to build customer traffic... and more.
by James Grandillo Women have become wary of male salespeople and are more likely to trust another woman, says this furniture industry consultant.
by Gerry Morris
How to handle two of the most challenging questions a mattress shopper can ask.
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene A trip to this iconic retailer’s new Charlotte, NC, store reveals the power of creative merchandising and an engaging environment to make the sale.
SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
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SleepSavvy The magazine for sleep products professionals
Editor in Chief Nancy Butler 828-299-7420 firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Writer Barbara Nelles 336-856-8973 email@example.com Contributors James Grandillo Gerry Morris Julie Palm Art Direction Stephanie Belcher The Jimmydog Design Group firstname.lastname@example.org Vice President of Sales Kerri Bellias 336-945-0265 email@example.com Advertising Services Manager Debbie Robbins 336-342-4217 firstname.lastname@example.org Circulation Manager Mary Rulli 336-491-0443 email@example.com Copy Editor Margaret Talley-Seijn Vol. 8, No. 5 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 828-299-7490. Advertising services: 5603-B W. Friendly Ave. #286, Greensboro, North Carolina 27410. Phone 336-342-4217, fax 336-342-4116. 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: Personnel at ISPA member companies qualify for complimentary subscriptions, subject to restrictions. Nonmembers and all others: $30 U.S., $40 non-U.S. Please send subscription orders and changes to: Sleep Savvy, P.O. Box 4678, Archdale, North Carolina 27263 or fax 336-431-0317. ©2009 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.
WAKE UP CALL from the editor
Who cares about all this ‘gender science’ stuff?!
ou do—if you care about closing your customers. Understanding gender differences is one of the hottest areas of research and analysis right now, representing an opportunity for tremendous progress in communication between the sexes. Forget terms like “feminist” and “sexist.” Gender science takes judgment and prejudice out of the equation and simply looks at the reality. Yep, men and women are different. The operative word is “different,” not “better” or “worse.” It’s not about power, parity and political correctness in the workplace. The point is that a genuine exploration of our differences helps all of us—men and women—identify how to use our special, gender-based qualities to their full advantage and to understand where a person of the opposite gender may be coming from. This can be tricky territory, so rather than subject you to my post-feminist interpretation, I’ve left it to the experts in this issue’s cover story—actually two stories, starting on page 14—to make the case for gender science and why it’s valuable to you. Then, for a furniture insider’s point of view, read Be My Guest on page 29. People, not generalizations Gender science-based findings are, of course, generalizations and, while they are useful at many levels of our professional and personal lives, we need to be cautious of making decisions based on generalizations instead of on people. Women may be better suited at selling to women because
they tend to think more alike, as guest columnist Jim Grandillo points out, but not every woman has the right temperament for sales, while some men have a real knack for engaging women in conversation. And some of us, as you’ll read, are what is called a “bridge brain”—a person with characteristics from both genders. Be who you are Whoever you are, don’t try to be someone else or you’ll come down with a case of “gender inauthenticity”—deadly in a sales situation. I’ve seen it in two manifestations. First, there’s the male RSA who is pretending to understand women. It’s an act he’s developed and, trust me, a woman will spot it every time. Then, there’s the woman RSA who’s been trained to sell like a man-—usually involving selling scripts written by and for men. What a waste of female skill sets! And she is even more of a turn-off to other women. I’m betting this issue will stir up some conversation and I’ll be hearing from both women and men. So have at it! I’m looking forward to your comments, as well as feedback on how gender differences play out in your company and on your sales floors. firstname.lastname@example.org SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
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SNOOZE NEWS stuff you can use
Saturday Evening Post recommends mattress replacement at 5-7 years
like an ice-cream
The venerable Saturday Evening Post did an especially good job of conveying the replacement messages of the mattress industry’s Better Sleep Council (April 17 in Wellness): “Similar to your favorite old chair or worn pair of shoes, your mattress can still feel comfortable long after it has lost its ability to provide your body with the proper support and comfort it needs. Because sleep is so critical to our ability to function and feel our best, it is important to evaluate your sleep set on a regular basis. “Signs that you may need a new mattress: 1. You wake up with stiffness, numbness, or aches and pains. 2. You had a better night’s sleep somewhere other than your own bed (such as a hotel). 3. Your mattress shows visible signs of overuse (it sags, has lumps, the interior is exposed, etc.). 4. Your mattress is 5-7 years old* “The warranty on the new mattress and foundation you purchase is not an indicator of how long the product should be used before replacement. The warranty is there to protect the customer from product defects, not against the gradual loss of comfort and support. “*How long a mattress will last depends on several factors, such as amount of use and original quality, but in general, a mattress set that has been in use 5-7 years is no longer providing you with the best comfort and support. Keep in mind that people’s bodies change over time, and the need for good comfort and support only increases with age. That’s why it’s a good idea to compare the mattress and foundation you are sleeping on now to newer models every few years.” To read what the Saturday Evening Post had to say about disposing of worn-out mattresses, read the item on page 8.
cone; you have to lick it one day at a
— Charles Schulz
The French catch nearly 9 hours of zzzzzz’s
onne nuit? Oui! The French sleep 8.8 hours every day—more than any other nationality—according to a recent survey by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. This is at least a half -hour more than the average Brit and more than an hour longer than the average Korean, found to be the most awake of the 18 nationalities surveyed. Americans come in second at more than 8.6 hours, and Spaniards—famous for their siestas—are third. When they do finally get out of bed, the French will spend up to two hours a day sitting down to eat— also more than any other country and about twice the time Americans devote to dining. Long known as lovers of leisure, the French hold another record: 30 days of mandatory annual paid leave. That compares to 20 in the U.K., 10 in Japan and 0 in the U.S. Sleep Savvy is green with envy on all fronts.
SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
stuff you can use
BSC national spokeswoman writes for Huffington Post
ifestyle and relationship expert Lissa Coffey—the Better Sleep Council’s 2009 spokeswoman—recently signed on as a contributor to the Huffington Post and will be writing a weekly article. First up was “Better Sleep Can Warm Up a Relationship,” posted June 8. The popular online news source reaches some 23 million readers. “Many couples can
live happily together, but they can’t sleep well side-byside, which can negatively impact their relationship,” Coffey wrote. “Sleeping together is an important way for couples to feel connected with each other. And not getting enough sleep can leave us feeling slug-
What a winning idea!
argherita Porporo has a great plan for some of her recent lottery win nings. The Toronto resident, who won $8.2 million in a May Lotto 6/49 draw ing, says that one of her first purchases will be a new mattress. “There are a few things this 79-year-old grandma wants to do with her newfound fortune,” according to City News, a Toronto TV station. “She plans to buy a bungalow. And she’s going out to purchase a new mattress, something her family has been telling her to get for some time. Now, at last, she seems sure she can afford it. It doesn’t appear, though, that she plans to keep her money in it.”
8 SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
gish, cranky and hard to get along with.” Here are some of the tips the BSC spokesperson offers for couples with different sleep styles: Problem: Your partner kicks in his or her sleep, waking you up. Solution: Make sure your bed gives each sleep-
er enough sleep surface to move around comfortably. For couples sharing a bed, the mattress should be at least queen-sized. Problem: Your partner tosses and turns. Solution: It may be your mattress. Mattresses should be evaluated for optimum comfort and support every five to seven years. The article includes a link to the BSC’s website, www.bettersleep.org.
Mattress disposal tips from the Saturday Evening Post
recent Saturday Evening Post article (see page 7) had this to say about disposing of old mattresses and why it’s important to get them out of circulation. “Old beds turn up in the oddest places— in the bottom of lakes, by the side of the road, in the classified ads of the newspaper. Clearly, people don’t know what to do with old mattresses! “It’s estimated that nearly 70% of old beds stay in circulation, handed down like heirlooms to children and other family members. This is especially harmful for children, whose active, developing bodies require the support of a good quality mattress. If the bed is no longer good enough for you, it’s not good enough for anybody else; throw it out—properly. “Here are two ways to get rid of an old sleep set: 1. Ask the store where you bought your new mattress to pick it up when they deliver the new set. Many retailers today offer this service as part of your purchase price or for a nominal fee. 2. Call your local municipality, sanitation department or garbage collector. They usually have provisions for picking up larger items, but you may need to make arrangements in advance.” The Post credited the mattress industry’s Better Sleep Council with the information. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
Check out Sleep Savvy digital
very 2009 issue is available in digital format on our website at www.sleepsavvymagazine.com. The platform we’re using is fast and easy to navigate, so you can flip through the magazine much as you do with the print version. It also has some extra features you can’t get in print, including live email and web links for more information from advertisers and editorial sources. Look for each new issue to be posted online at the beginning of the month of publication—several weeks earlier than you receive your issues by mail. Now, no matter where you are, if you have access to the Internet, you’ll have access to Sleep Savvy. Do you want to be notified whenever we post a new issue? Send your email address to Mary Rulli, circulation manager, at email@example.com We promise your email will not be shared with outside parties.
Sales down? You’ve got lots of company
e are not alone, points out furniture industry analyst Jerry Epperson in his June Furnishings Digest Newsletter. Jerry reports that sales of cooking appliances are off 17.2%, laundry items off 17.3%, kitchen dishwashers and compactors off 19%, refrigerators and freezers off 21.2% and air conditioners off 22.5%. “Evidently, after the recession we will be leaner, dirtier, and warmer with more trash,” Jerry said. “The good news is that movie ticket sales are up 11% this year, so people are getting their air conditioning and their food at the movies.” Bottom line for furniture and mattress merchants: “Advertise at your local movie theater. They cannot fast forward or delete!” Now that’s not a bad idea. Visit the Mann, Armistead and Epperson website at www.maeltd.com.
Warren Buffet moonlights as mattress RSA?
erkshire Hathaway mogul Warren Buffet was recently seen working as a mattress salesman in Omaha’s Nebraska Furniture Mart. But it was all for laughs, in a movie shown at the company’s annual meeting. Here’s the plot: Buffett has been demoted from chairman after Berkshire lost its AAA rating. The board suggests he try something else. But he discovers that being a mattress RSA isn’t so easy. He tries to persuade a shopper to buy a mattress, but nothing suits her. One model—the Warren—has “too many ups and downs” and “bounces back slow,” she complains. What the shopper wants is something “safe and secure.” Finally, Buffett suggests the Nervous Nelly, which has been the best seller since the Dow dropped below 10,000. Owners can stash all of their valuables inside—an exclusive feature. “I’ll take it,” the shopper says. But she insists on the floor model. So Buffett has to remove all of his own valuables, including cash, stock certificates—and old Playboy magazines.
One thing we don’t do in this (economic) crisis is cut marketing around the world. We continue to make sure that our brands stay healthy and that we exit this tunnel with more market share than when we went in. — Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola CEO
SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
stuff you can use
Sales tools you don’t want to use
teve Howard, president of the Phoenix, AZ-based sales consulting firm the ACT Group, offers a list of sales practices that should be avoided like the plague—or maybe the swine flu—in a recessionary economy: ● Trying to “guess” how much money consumers have to spend. ● Asking canned questions or working from generic sales scripts. ● Offering limited choices or packages to consumers, thus ensuring they’re stuck paying for an unwanted feature or option. ● Aggressively trying to sell the consumer something they don’t want and/or can’t afford.
Retailer creates customized ‘Sleep Book’
outhern California major Sit ‘n Sleep unveiled a whale of a promotional concept with the recent launch of its www.SleepBook.com website. Visitors to the educational platform are encouraged to take a short survey about their sleep habits. Once the survey is complete, a customized “Sleep Book” of 35-40 pages is delivered to the visitor’s email. The book features individually tailored sleep/health advice, with a wide range of tips and strategies for achieving a better night’s sleep—including the best mattress—all based on the survey answers. Several days after the delivery of the Sleep Book, another email arrives with Sit ‘n Sleep coupons for discounts on sleep sets and a free pillow for visiting the nearest store and completing a Body Diagnostic. Two Sleep Savvy thumbs up for Sit ‘n Sleep and its advertising agency, Wingman Media.
Just for laughs
Get more sleep!
f you or your customers need an extra incentive to get more sleep at night, consider this bonus pointed out in Southern Living magazine’s May issue. The more you sleep, the more you reduce your carbon footprint— primarily by using less energy. Why didn’t we think of that!
10 SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
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stuff you can use
Mattress sales declined by more than 9% in ‘08
he International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) Annual Sales Survey, which provides market totals for the U.S. mattress industry, shows that wholesale shipments of mattresses and foundations were off by 9.1% in dollars and 11% in units for all of 2008 vs. 2007. Non-innerspring mattresses— which account for 9.5% of total sales—were down by 17.8% in dollars and 17.7% in units. Foundations (all types) declined by 8.9% in dollars but registered the sharpest unit drop at 12.1%. According to a limited sample of producers (40.7% of the market), sales of mattresses merchandised at retail price points over $1,000 (queen) were virtually unchanged from 2007. The over-$1,000 category represented 26.6% of the total, sampled companies reported.
ISPA Forecast: Sales set to return to plus side
he recovery in mattress sales is just around the corner, according to the latest Mattress Industry Forecast from the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA). While the ISPA report predicts that wholesale dollar sales of mattresses and foundations will be off by 9.5% for 2009, it suggests that the worst will have passed in the first half of the year. Sales will begin tracking upward again in the second half, probably in the fall. For 2010, the association is forecasting a 4.5% dollar increase and a 3% unit sales increase, reflecting a modest gain in average unit pricing. The industry is expected to show even greater gains in 2011, with an 8% increase in dollar sales and 6% growth in units. The forecast is based on an econometric model developed for ISPA by the University of Michigan and the consensus of an association forecast panel of leading producers and component suppliers. e
BEDDING BIZ BEAT Poor business conditions continued in the spring as dollar sales (wholesale) of mattresses and foundations declined by more than 16% for both March and April compared to the same months in 2008. The decline moderated slightly in May with a 14.7% loss. Unit sales declined by 9.7% in March, 11% in April and 14% in May. For the first five months of the year, average unit price declined by 2.9%.
Mattresses & Foundations - Millions of Dollars (wholesale) Sample of Leading Producers $330 $288
Percent change -16.6%
Source: ISPA monthly Bedding Barometer, a sample of leading U.S. mattress producers
12 SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
■ 2007 ■ 2008 ■ 2009
stuff you can use
What good is sleep? The fruit fly knows ISPA adds Canadian
K, laugh at the idea of fruit fly research if you want. But first you might want to read what Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly’s scientific name) recently revealed about why humans sleep. Two papers were recently published in Science and reported in Time magazine. In the first study, Paul Shaw at Washington University in St. Louis monitored the relationship between brain activity and sleep patterns, isolating three genes responsible for dictating how much sleep flies got in certain situations and when. Under normal conditions, flies doze off, even during the day, after engaging in intense social activities, including courtship, acclimating to a new environment and fighting over mates and territory. But Shaw found that when flies were genetically bred to be missing these genes, they failed to fall asleep after busy episodes of social activity. That may not sound like a big deal, except that in the second paper, Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin found that sleep appears to function as a critical shutoff valve for
the fruit-fly brain. While awake, the brain keeps adding new information and forming new connections in an everthickening neural network. But the fruit-fly brain has its limits and needs a shutdown mode as it gets close to overload. During sleep, the volume of connections between nerve cells in the brain decreases. A growing number of scientists believe that sleep—not just in flies but also in humans—may perform this pressure-releasing role. During sleep, the brain prunes the neural network, trimming away weaker connections that haven’t been used in a while or weren’t strong enough to begin with. The stronger connections, researchers theorize, are filed into long-term memory, where they can be accessed as needed. All this nocturnal tidying explains why sleep is tied to memory consolidation and why learning is easier after a good night’s sleep. “If this didn’t happen, theoretically, over time, the brain would reach capacity and be unable to learn or remember new things,” Shaw told Time.
The best employee stimulus package
usiness is down—and so are your company’s employees. But more money isn’t the best way to raise morale, according to recent studies. Take a look at the value of praise vs. the value of a pay raise. ● Praising employees had the same impact on job satisfaction as a 1% pay increase (White Water Strategies). ● Non-cash incentives were 24% more powerful in boosting performance than cash incentives (University of Chicago Study). ● In a poll about the best way to motivate a team, 74% voted for respect and recognition. Source: BNET Business Network
recyclers to directory
he International Sleep Products Association has added three Canadian recyclers—in the provinces of Alberta, Quebec and Saskatchewan—to its directory of facilities that recycle mattress components. Visit www.sleepproducts.org/sustainability for a list of 14 mattress recycling facilities in North America. If you know of other recycling centers in your area that should be added to the list, contact Ryan Trainer, ISPA executive vice president and general counsel, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The tai chi way to customer traffic
study in the journal Sleep found that people age 59 to 86 who regularly practiced a form of tai chi got more sleep and better sleep quality than those who didn’t. “Tai chi is fairly simple to do once you learn how,” according to noted alternative health advocate Dr. Andrew Weil in Body + Soul magazine. Weil recommends checking adult education centers or health clubs for tai chi classes. Better yet, why not hire a local tai chi teacher to stage a couple of free classes at your store and send out special invitations? SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
14 SleepSavvy â€˘ July/August 2009
He buys, she shops Study shows shopping behaviors reflect gender differences
hen it comes to shopping, women are from Nordstrom and men are from Sears. Women are happy to meander through sprawling clothing and accessory collections or detour through the shoe department. They like to glide up glass escalators past a grand piano or spray a perfume sample on themselves on their way to, maybe, making a purchase. For men, shopping is a mission. They are out to buy a targeted item and flee the store as quickly as possible, according to research conducted at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In a study titled “Men Buy, Women Shop,” researchers at Wharton’s Jay H. Baker Retail Initiative and the Verde Group, a Toronto consulting firm, found that women react more strongly than men to personal interaction with sales associates. Men are more likely to respond to more utilitarian aspects of the experience—such as the availability of parking, whether the item they came for is in stock and the length of the checkout line. “Women tend to be more invested in the shopping experience on many dimensions,” says Robert Price, chief marketing officer at CVS Caremark and a member of the Baker advisory board. “Men want to go to Sears, buy a specific tool and get out.” As one female shopper told the researchers: “I love shopping. I love shopping even when I have a deadline. I just love shopping.” Compare that to this response from a male who described how men approach retailing: “We’re going to this store and we buy it and we leave because we want to do something else.” Price says women’s role as caregiver persists even as women’s professional responsibilities mount. He speculates that this responsibility contributes to women’s more acute shopping awareness and higher expectations. On the other hand, after generations of relying on women to shop effectively for them, men’s interest in shopping has atrophied.
SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
THE COVER STORY he buys, she shops
According to Wharton marketing professor Stephen Hoch, shopping behavior mirrors gender differences throughout many aspects of life. “Women think of shopping in an interpersonal, human fashion and men treat it as more instrumental. It’s a job to get done,” he says, adding that the data has implications for retailers interested in developing a more segmented approach to build and maintain loyalty among male and female customers.
Feeling important vs. fast checkout “Men Buy, Women Shop” also found that women are more likely to experience problems while shopping than men—53% vs. 48%, with women over age 40 reporting more problems than men in the same age group. For women, “lack of help when needed” is the top problem (29%). It is also the likeliest reason that stores lose the business of women shoppers. Indeed, according to an analysis of the study’s data, about 6% of all female shoppers could be lost to stores due to lack of sales help. Men, however, ranked “difficulty in finding parking close to the store’s entrance” as the number one problem (also 29%). The problem most likely to result in lost business from men is if the product they came to buy is out of stock; about 5% of all male shoppers could be lost to stores for this reason. Male and female shoppers also have different reactions to sales associates. For men, an associate’s interest in helping them find an item is most important, followed by the sales associate’s effort in getting them through checkout quickly. For women, sales associates’ familiarity with the products in the store and an ability to determine what products best suit the customer are most important. Women shoppers also value sales associates who make them feel important, according to the survey.
16 SleepSavvy •
In an interview with researchers, one woman in the 18 to 35 bracket described the employees in a favorite store. “The sales associates are always great. They always show me different styles. They will show me something new that’s come in.” Meanwhile, a man in the same age bracket said this: “I haven’t had much interaction with most salespeople. I don’t really need them—as long as they’re at the checkout.” Paula Courtney, president of the Verde Group, suggests that the attitudes expressed toward sales associates reflect subtle, but important, differences between men and women. When asked what problem would make respondents so angry they would never return to a store, women cited employees who “acted like you were intruding on their time or their own conversations.” Men were most miffed by employees who were “lazy, i.e., would not check for additional stock or take you to the item you were looking for.” Courtney points out that for women, it’s more personal. For men, problems with associates are still linked directly to getting the item they need. “Women are more apt to be angered by a lack of engagement behavior from the sales associates. For men, while engagement is still important, it’s not as important as the product and getting in and out quickly.” Retailers can use the study findings to tailor services to build sales, she
Hiring women throughout the ranks will bring retailers more in touch with what women want.
said. “In a highly competitive market, where people are price-sensitive and there are tons of choices, if you can get one more strategy up your sleeve that gives you that edge, then why not?” she asks. “If we treat men and women differently, then we are going to be more successful.” Erin Armendinger, managing director of the Baker initiative, puts it this way: “Men and women are simply different,” she says. “It’s important for retailers to remember it’s not only what they’re purchasing, but how they’re doing it.” Price suggests that retailers who want to improve their ability to reach shoppers based on gender can take some concrete steps. First, however, they must be sure that their operations are running as smoothly as possible in order to avoid irritations, such as outof-stock merchandise, that diminish the shopping experience for men and women both. He also says that efforts to reach out to women shoppers cannot be superficial, such as simply putwww.sleepsavvymagazine.com
THE COVER STORY he buys, she shops
ting up signs or changing the color of uniforms. Communication is critical to reaching women shoppers, Price adds. Sales associates need to understand whether the shopper is looking for a product that will come out of disposable income, such as cosmetics, or a more essential, costly and difficult to understand product (such as a mattress). Helping shoppers in those two different categories requires different styles of communication. Sales associates must be trained to recognize and react to shoppers’ cues. Retailers hoping to appeal to women shoppers also need to devote attention to editing their assortment of items, Price says. Managers may be tempted to offer a wide swath of products, but he cites research showing that women who have to balance many responsibilities prefer stores with limited selections, such as Coach, Trader Joe’s and Sephora. Finally, he says, hiring women throughout the ranks will bring retailers more in touch with what women want. At his company, women make up the majority of sales associates and are heavily represented in the marketing department. No idea gets floated too far before a woman can reflect on how it might impact her own life, he notes.
The many faces of the sales associate Women spend $4 trillion annually and account for 83% of U.S. consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of the nation’s gross national product, according to WomenCertified, a women’s consumer advocacy and retail training organization headquartered in Hollywood, FL, which also worked on the study. While many of the study’s findings do not come as a surprise to retailers, the hard data may help companies focus better on some of the problems cited by men and women, www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
according to Delia Passi, founder of WomenCertified. She says retailers have long sensed the differences between men and women as shoppers. “It goes back to gatherers versus hunters. Women are gatherers; men are hunters. Women walk into a store and scan. Men look for a specific aisle.” Scientific research, she notes, shows women have better peripheral vision than men, which would benefit them as gatherers. Passi says the underlying attitudes that frame the shopping experience for men and women—with women more focused on the experience; men on the mission—do not necessarily play into sexist stereotypes of women as more emotional and weaker. “When it comes to the retail experience, men and women both go into the store to buy something, only she wants more. She wants more interaction. She wants more eye contact. He wants quick answers while she’s looking for support and collaboration in the buying process.” Passi acknowledged that many of the observations revealed in the survey still reflect generalities and that many women and men do not fit into the broader patterns. Indeed, as the owner of her own business, she is pressed for time and often behaves more like the survey’s male respondents when shopping. According to Hoch, the study, along with other Baker research, indicates that sales associates are critical to retail operations because employees are one of the ways competitors can differentiate themselves from one another to gain market share. “It’s hard to do anything about parking or the mall being too crowded, but they can
do things about the sales associates,” he notes. “What I found interesting is how women tend to be more focused on people while men act almost as if they are dealing with an ATM machine. In fact, they want to deal with an ATM machine. They really
Younger shoppers expect RSA respect
hen it comes to sales associates who don’t demonstrate sufficient shopper respect, the “Men Buy, Women Shop” study showed that female shoppers ages 18 to 40 really have their antennae up, experiencing the highest percentage of these problems: ● T he RSA was insensitive to my time. ● T he RSA was not particularly polite or courteous. ● T he RSA seemed annoyed when I needed help. Both male and female shoppers in this age range are more attuned to insincerity than their older counterparts. They are roughly twice as likely to say: ● T he RSA seemed phony—simply trying to make a sale.
SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
THE COVER STORY he buys, she shops
don’t want to deal with a person.” Courtney acknowledges that responding to the study’s findings adds another responsibility for sales associates who are often already juggling many different priorities on the retail floor. “At the end of the day, a sales associate has to be multifaceted,” she says. “They have to be an engager, an expediter and an educator. They must be authentic, but what this study tells us is those buttons have to be turned on and off—or turned on more or less—depending on whether you are dealing with a man or a woman.” She says retailers need to step up and deliver more sophisticated, segmented service, not only taking
into account gender, but also age, ethnicity and regional differences. “There’s no such thing as customer homogeneity. We’re not a homogeneous bunch at all. Yet, as organizations, we end up treating customers as one big happy family. You’ve got all sorts of demographic and psychographic forces at play.” Gender, she notes, is one of the easier customer attributes to address in a strategic fashion. Truly sophisticated marketers could get into attempting to differentiate services by gender and age or between professional women and those who manage households full-time. “At some level, what is practical and ideal start to diverge,
but I think gender is a pretty simple segment to do differently.” The “Men Buy, Women Shop” study was based on a random, national sample of 1,250 consumers who were asked about a recent shopping experience in telephone interviews. The sample was dominated two to one by women. ● Reprinted with permission from the Knowledge@Wharton (http://knowledge@Wharton.upenn.edu) article, “Men Buy, Women Shop: The Sexes Have Different Priorities When Walking Down the Aisles” (November 28, 2007). All materials copyright of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
The science of gender
Male and female brains are different
his story features excerpts from Leadership and the Sexes: Using Gender Science to Create Success in Business by Michael Gurian and Barbara Annis. The groundbreaking book, published in 2008, explores what scientific studies reveal about male/female brain differences and how these differences impact the ways men and women negotiate, communicate and lead. Using medical technologies such as PET and MRI scans, scientists are able to detect and study the differences between male and female brains. As brain science has become more sophisticated, studies consistently indicate that although men and women produce equivalent intellectual performance, their brains do it differently. We are different in the following ways: ● How and what we remember. Women take in more through each
18 SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
of their five senses than men do, on average, and store more of this material in the brain for later use. Thus they tend to remember more details during a conversation, for instance. Try this exercise with your team: Have a meeting—perhaps it is your weekly staff meeting—but end the usual content portion of the meet-
ing fifteen minutes early. Now tell your team, “Okay, for five minutes write down as many gestures, tones of voice, or other subtle relational signals as you can remember seeing happen during the meeting.” After the writing time, let everyone talk about what they saw and heard. You’ll be amazed at how much more most of the women saw and sensed relationally—how many more facial and physical expressions of emotion, for instance. ● How we process words—and how many and what kind we use. Women use more words than men. This includes reading and writing, not just speaking. A man and a woman may speak the same amount of words in a week, but will not generally read and write the same amount. ● How we experience the world. New studies are indicating that even the cells in our retina may well be different, with female retinas tending to have more P ganglion cells (which see www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
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THE COVER STORY he buys, she shops
color and fine detail), and male retinas tending toward more M ganglion cells, which more easily see physical motion of objects moving in space around them. ● What we buy and why we buy it. Because of these sensory differences, women’s buying is often more linked to immediate complex sensory experience than men’s. For example, women more readily enjoy walking through a store and touching and feeling objects, while men will get less pleasure from this. Men, on the other hand, link more of their buying to both spatial enjoyment (such as video games, which are all about objects moving around in virtual space) and to performance competition and aggression identification. Thus we find more men interested in buying memorabilia from sports teams with
20 SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
which they passionately identify. ● The way our midbrain (limbic system) and emotional processing works. The approach to developing self-esteem and emotional intelligence can be quite different in women and men, especially because women’s brains tend to link more of the emotional activity that is going on in the middle of the brain (the limbic system) with thoughts and words in the top of the brain (the cerebral cortex). Thus a man might need many hours to process a major emotion-laden experience, whereas a woman may be able to process it quite quickly. This often creates a lot of tension between women and men. ● The amounts of white matter and gray matter in the brain. Women have more white matter and men have more gray matter related to cog-
nitive functioning in the brain. White matter connects brain centers in the neural network, whereas gray matter tends to localize brain activity into a single active brain center. The white/ gray matter difference is one reason the genders bring different perspectives to the same problem or design. Women tend often to be able to make crucial connections between widely disparate elements that men don’t make. Simultaneously, men tend to task-focus on one element or pattern without distraction better than women do. Gender vs. stereotypes Research shows that the human brain is genetically coded—hard-wired— with its gender. Personality (such as introvert/extravert) and gender (where you fit on the
THE COVER STORY he buys, she shops
gender/brain spectrum) are aspects of who you are that have low “plasticity.” That does not mean there won’t be cultural effects on your brain/ gender genetics. Our nature—who we are—is nurtured by environment— how we fit who we are into the environments we live and work in. Environments affect the extent to which different genes get expressed and are viable—in this lies the heart of the debate about opportunity in women’s and men’s lives. Equal opportunity must be given to each individual man and woman so that they, as differently but equally intelligent women and men, can discover how to nurture and express their own inborn nature in cohesive groups. Whereas once a culture might well stereotype women and men when talking about difference, the new brain sciences can now move us forward to true partnership. Two hundred years ago—even 30 or 40 years ago—nearly any information about women and men could be manipulated and skewed, as it was opinion, not science. People came to believe that adult gender equality depended on erasing gender differences and making everyone the same. Now, science is available, and corporations such as IBM, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Deloitte & Touche, Procter & Gamble, Unilever—and many others that pay attention to how inherently different the genders are—actually do better at advancing women’s and men’s success in the workplaces. Paying attention to who we really are makes it possible to create policies that satisfy
our deepest needs as women and men, create partnerships based in mutual respect and support, and improve bottom lines through gender intelligence, gender balance, and evolving opportunities to become people of depth and vision.
A man might need hours to process a major emotion-laden experience, whereas a woman may be able to process it quite quickly.
Some brains bridge gender There are some people whose brains share a number of characteristics of the other gender’s brain, transgendered individuals, and people who just sense their brains may be toward the middle of the gender/brain spectrum. The woman who says: “I was a total tomboy as a kid; I couldn’t sit still; I didn’t like dolls much, which got me rejected by other girls; I was really good at physics but avoided reading for pleasure; I still prefer working alone to talking a lot with people; I’m not very emotional. . .” The man who says: “I was the kid who loved dolls and soft things, I didn’t like team sports, I have always been more verbal and emotional than most guys. . .” What research is showing us is that every one of us has both our own gender’s and the other gender’s hormones and brain characteristics. Yet, if we are biologically
Where are you on the gender spectrum?
our brain’s male/female coding fits somewhere on a wide gender/ brain spectrum. Leadership and the Sexes: Using Gender Science to Create Success in Business includes a test to determine where you fall within the spectrum, but the authors also suggest taking the “What Sex Is Your Brain?” test posted online by the BBC. Go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sex/add_user.shtml
male, we will tend toward being more male on the brain/chemistry spectrum, and if female, we’ll tend toward female. And some of us are closer to the other gender on the spectrum than others are. Some of us, in other words, are neurological “bridges” between genders. You might often see bridge-brain women in the technology sector, just as you might see bridge-brain men in the social services sector. However, there is a twist in this research. Some women say, “I think I’m a bridge brain; I operate just like the male managers at work.” But when asked, “Are you this way at home?” some say, “No, not at all, just at work.” These women have accessed parts of themselves needed to “become like men” so they could survive at work. But when these women train themselves to counter their natural inclinations, they often push back, at some key point in their career, against having to give up “who they are.” They end up leaving the workplace that invested immense resources in their development as leaders, but did not understand them as adult women. ● Reproduced with permission of John Wiley & Sons Inc. SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
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RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Shoppers at the new Charlotte, NC, store discover it’s the environment that makes the sale
his installment of Retail Road Trip is a departure from our usual format of interviewing store owners. This time, Sleep Savvy Editor in Chief Nancy Butler, Senior Writer Barbara Nelles and BedTimes Editor in Chief Julie Palm went shopping—incognito—at this iconic retailer’s new Charlotte, NC, store. The story recounts the experience and impressions of all three journalists. No one was on hand to greet us as we came through Ikea’s doors, but the entrance is welcoming and engaging,
with large, easy-to-read signs telling you exactly what to do to get started. All you need is one of their oversized, bright yellow shopping bags—carts are available further along. A map of departments—with “shopping list” space—and pencils are also available, but you can pick those up along the way, as well. Samples of special furniture values are on display in attractive, simple vignettes that include accessories. Restrooms are dead ahead, clearly marked and featuring small-scale toilets for little ones. Parents can check SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
in at Smaland, where toddler and kids can be cared for and play, or use an Ikea stroller for babies. A sign points the way to the Bistro—with snacks and drinks averaging about $1—for those arriving thirsty or hungry. The entrance gets you oriented, refreshed and ready to ascend the escalator to the furniture displays, all without the intervention of store personnel. While the greeting is considered mandatory in most stores, studies show that too many backfire because an RSA is too aggressive, not helpful or not personable. In Ikea’s case, the well-designed, controlled environment is the greeting. And it works. Circular layout controls flow Ikea’s layout and merchandising are legendary—and only get better with each new generation of stores. The traffic flow is controlled by the circular, sequential layout of the departments, drawing you naturally through living room to home office to kitchen/dining to bedroom. Though there are strategically placed shortcuts, it’s very difficult to “go your own way”—which is exactly the way Ikea wants it. Information kiosks in every department offer brochures, maps and measuring tapes, plus a way to contact a staff member if you need one. (We saw several “Team Members” along the way; one greeted us cheerily and asked if we were having a good day.) There is an abundance of very visible signage. Everything is tagged with price and details on what to do if you want to buy the product. Typically, you’ll pick up furniture items in the self-serve area at the end of your visit or, in the case of many smaller items and accessories, you’ll find them in the Marketplace area of the store. Among Ikea’s newest features are living spaces showcasing compact, complete living quarters that have been totally outfitted and accessorized, right down to flatware in
24 SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
the kitchen drawers. A key consumer pieces, mostly contemporary, but also draw for Ikea is the availability of a few more traditional styles. All beds virtually everything for the home are shown with mattresses and outfitunder one roof—including the kitchen sink. The creatively designed living spaces spark ideas of how items might look in the customer’s own home— an effective merchandising idea that works in a surprisingly small amount of floor space. Ikea’s main claim to fame has always been its “cool” contemporary stylA wall of the Mattress ing at extremely affordable Studio showcases prices. To our educated Ikea’s comforter and shoppers’ eyes, the store pillow lines. featured a large number of items that looked and felt as if they should and could comted with top-of-bed that is labeled so mand prices much higher than those you’ll know where to find it. marked. In several instances, the The adjacent Mattress Studio is values proved irresistible, prompting striking in its simplicity—and its dediall three of us to make personal purcation to information and education. chases during the excursion. Even in the absence of an RSA (we could Showcasing the complete bed have found or called To get to mattresses, you first arrive for one if needed), the in the bedroom department—bedwhole story is there steads, frames and matching case in the form of prominent, detailed signage and labeling. Also available for pickup is a 52-page, full-color catalog providing all kea’s 52-page mattress catalog, of the details so cusavailable for pick-up in the stores, tomers can take them showcases the entire selection of home and make an mattresses and bases, pillow-tops, informed decision. All pillows and comforters in vignetteof the familiar “buy style photos, with complete details Detailed signage and today” pressure is and prices on every item. It also labeling tell the full absent. The products offers tools and advice to help cusstory on mattresses. and values speak for tomers select the best match for their themselves. individual bodies, sleep needs and Virtually all of Ikea’s merchandise is home environments. It’s available in made for the company under private digital form on the company’s weblabel arrangements with a long list of site, www.ikea.com—nicely done vendors around the world. It’s difand well worth a look. ficult, if not impossible, to ferret out the sources for individual items or cat-
Check out the mattress catalog
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
Fully accessorized beds are on display as you leave the Mattress Studio.
egories. The only clues as to the origin of the mattress assortment on display in Charlotte were the law tags, which read “Made in Mexico.” (Reportedly, this is about to change—bedding will be made for Ikea by a Polish comwww.sleepsavvymagazine.com
pany with a new facility in A display of slatted bases Danville, VA.) helps shoppers understand the Ikea’s Sultan line includes European-style constructions. an assortment of foam, innerspring and latex mattresses priced at $179 to $899 ter understand the function of slatqueen; foundations are sold sepated foundations, a large wall display rately. Box springs, featuring steel coil showcases these European-style constructions, are priced at $150 and bases. Pillows and comforters are $200 queen. Slatted bed bases, which also merchandised as part of the matare given considerable emphasis, go tress display, though you pick up the from $40 to $300 queen—moving actual items elsewhere in the store. up in zoned support and adjustability One entire wall in the Charlotte store and topping out with an upholstered is dedicated to swinging comforter slatted base featuring storage. You racks and pillow shelving. can then “Fine tune your comfort” by The lighting in the mattress departpurchasing a separate pillow-top pad ment is exceptionally well designed, at $50 to $299. All mattresses come not only for product enhancement Bruce and “Bruce” with a 90-day comfort guarantee. and sign readability, but also to creTo help American consumers betate a warm “glow” that is missing in SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
No. 2 and on the grow
kea occupies the No. 2 spot on the Furniture/Today Top 100 Furniture Stores list (May 25, 2009 issue), with $1.95 billion in furniture, bedding and accessory sales for 2008—total revenue in all categories exceeds $3 billion. Unlike most retailers, Ikea reported sales growth in U.S. stores for ’08 (+8.9%). With U.S. operations headquartered in Conshohocken, PA, the Swedish company has 37 stores in this country and plans to open several more over the next few years. It has stores in 39 countries and an ongoing plan for international expansion. In May, Ikea was voted the world’s most trusted retail brand in a study by international consortium of retail consultants the Ebeltoft Group.
26 SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
typical furniture store interiors where overhead florescent tubes dominate. As you exit the department, you pass a set of wall vignettes showing foreshortened beds outfitted with top-of-bed and decorative accessories, including lighting, all of which are available at the bottom of the escalator in the Marketplace. We opted to stop in Ikea’s colorful cafe before continuing. It’s a self-serve cafeteria offering inexpensive cold and hot foods prepared on site, including a selection of healthy and vegetarian options, many with Swedish origins. And it’s designed to be very childfriendly in both menu and layout, with play-oriented areas for parents with kids. In keeping with the store’s commitment to explanations for everything, signs disclose that patrons are asked to bus their own tables and
why it’s important—basically, it keeps store costs down and customer values up. Waste paper is kept to a minimum and all recyclables are to be deposited in clearly marked bins. Marketplace brings them back Ikea’s Marketplace is the area that brings customers back on a regular basis when they’re not necessarily shopping for furniture. It offers everything from kitchen gadgets to throw rugs to storage options to pet accessories. Items are creatively merchandised using racks, bins and overhead hangers, as well as shelving. Again, the circular layout artfully funnels traffic through each department so you end up seeing everything on your way through. The selection emphasizes practicality and fun—and prices that are hard to pass up. Not one of
RETAIL ROAD TRIP the selling scene
us left without a few of Ikea’s smaller treasures. Furniture and other large items—most flat-packed with assembly required--are to be found in the “Self-serve Furniture” aisles on your way to checkout. Handy yellow carts designed to facilitate carton moving are nearby and surprisingly maneuverable—as one of us commented, “I wish they had these at Home Depot.” Extra-wide checkout lanes are flanked by islands with last-minute temptations—something for the garden perhaps? The lines moved quickly; the checkout staff was personable, helpful and efficient. In keeping with Ikea’s commitment to the three Rs —reduce, reuse, recycle—there are no paper or plastic bags. The ground floor Bistro & Food Market is near checkout for a lastminute soda or frozen yogurt cone,
plus Swedish specialty foods you may have sampled in the cafe, packaged to take home. Shoppers can also stop by the customer service department to arrange for pickup and assistance with larger furniture items, delivery and installation, or financing. Top marks for experience The Sleep Savvy/BedTimes shoppers found the new Ikea impressive, both professionally and personally, giving it high marks in the following categories: ✓ Customer friendly ✓ Female friendly ✓ Kid/mom friendly ✓ Earth friendly ✓ Affordable/good values ✓ Creative/inspiring ✓R easons to return between furniture purchases ✓ Fun to shop
It was easy to understand why it’s such a magnet for female shoppers—and it has much to teach other retailers about merchandising. Interestingly, it is the overall Ikea environment that makes the sale. The experience isn’t about the interaction with an RSA; it’s about the interaction with the store’s unique personality—and about value. Not all of Ikea’s stores are as impressive as the new Charlotte location—as Senior Writer Barbara Nelles can attest after paying a visit to an older, smaller Ikea in Pennsylvania not long after our trek to Charlotte. Nevertheless, a visit to an Ikea store is highly recommended to anyone in the furniture and bedding business. If there is one near you, go experience it for yourself. ●
SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
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28 SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
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BE MY GUEST by James Grandillo
Why women are better at selling bedding The last time I looked, there were really significant differences between men and women. I have it on good evidence that others share my observation. Perhaps you, too, have noticed these differences. I’m referring to the psychological, sociological and stylistic differences between men and women when they perform as salespeople, of course. Over the past several decades there have been gradual but significant changes in the way bedding salespeople are viewed and expected to perform their jobs. In Days of Yore (when I mouthed my first “May I help you?” to an unsuspecting couple), a salesman was expected to meet, greet and persuade people to buy. Back then there were salesmen and salesladies—rarely if ever were there salespersons. Selling was a contact sport presided over by alpha males whose arsenal of sales tactics was dominated by a bewildering number of closing techniques and little else. Product knowledge was the hammer; the customer, unfortunately, was the nail. At that time, the best salespeople were the best closers. They determined the customer’s product interest, located the product on the sales floor and proceeded to employ various methods to convince the customer to buy and buy now. I admit I made a living doing this myself, as did my father and countless people before me. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
Meet the ‘Modern Couple’ In the ’60s and ’70s, things began to change. Customers became more savvy, more wary and more knowledgeable. The “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality—in which everybody bought what everybody else bought and individuality was viewed with suspicion—was gradually exchanged for a “do your own thing” point of view. The home evolved into even more of a private haven than it always had been, and the Modern Couple discovered that furnishing a home was a means of selfexpression and creativity. A new understanding of the importance of sleep and how it affects our health was on its way to becoming a major determinant in how bedding is chosen. In short, the home became a reflection of your unique needs, tastes and sensibilities— and it also became a complex, time-consuming and costly process to create a home environment that would be uniquely yours. During this time, the salesperson—still usually a male who championed and mastered persuasive selling techniques—found that he had begun to lose credibility. The old-style alpha male often used manipulative selling techniques to get the customer to sign on the line, but the Modern Couple unmasked this person as someone who cared more about the sale than about the customer and his/her family’s needs. The art of “blowing off” the salesman—“No thanks, I’m just browsing!”—was perfected by the Modern Couple. It was their way of saying, “You know nothing about me and you don’t care about me. I’d rather walk around alone than be maneuvered or followed around by the likes of you!” What a sad commentary on the state of our indusSleepSavvy • July/August 2009
BE MY GUEST
by James Grandillo try that, even today, most customers would rather wander our stores without assistance than to be â€œhelpedâ€? (read: stalked) by a salesperson. No one likes the pushy salesperson, the salesperson who doesnâ€™t listen, the salesperson who doesnâ€™t relate to the needs of each individual home and, most particularly, to the needs of the woman of the house, her family and her lifestyle. Enter the female salesperson Although there had always been female employees selling in our stores, the female perspectiveâ€” that particular orientation that women bring to the selling processâ€”began to be better understood, appreciated and valued. As a customerâ€™s choices and options increased and manufacturers began to promote individuality in home decor and a dizzying variety of bedding choices, the customerâ€™s confusion over these choices increased proportionately. Customers discovered that female salespeople related better to their needs, spent more time with them and earned their trust better than a male salesperson could. Most men are outer-directed and goal-oriented in their interactions, both socially and personally, say psychologists, sociologists and people that study this sort of thing. Men tend
to focus on the outcome and the personal rewards inherent in any encounter. They talk rather than listenâ€”and when they listen they donâ€™t actually hear. The male focus is often: â€œWhat will I get out of this interaction and when will we get to the conclusion?â€? or â€œWhen and how can I get control of this situation to my advantage?â€? That fast-talking, used-car kind of salesperson quickly became an American stereotype that was internationally caricatured and reviledâ€” someone best avoided at all costs. Women tend to be more innerdirected and process-oriented. They value relationships, are better listeners than men, are patient and have life-long practice at getting others to open up. They are interested more in how people feel than in what they know. Women generally relate better
to women, as if all women belong to the same club and share a universal understanding of each other. Men, on the other hand, belong to no such club. They tend to be competitive and cautious in their interactions with other men. Women take greater emotional risks, share more freely and, as a result, create bonds of confidence and intimacy very quickly with each other. In short, women are more likely to trust other women in a sales role. Todayâ€™s woman is very wary of the male take-charge salesmanâ€”she just doesnâ€™t think he cares or is competent enough to advise her on purchases for her home. Male salespeople often adopt a dominant persona, taking control early in the selling encounter and too often failing to convince the customer that he cares about her familyâ€™s needs. However, women are by nature more caring and nurturing than men, seeking to partner with their customers. These are qualities that consumers seek out when we look for advice on purchases for our home. Men sell features, women sell benefits Since people buy furniture and bedding for the feelings and comfort that these items engender, successful salespeople have to be comfortable relat-
30 SleepSavvy â€˘ July/August 2009
BE MY GUEST
by James Grandillo ing to the benefits the customer seeks when purchasing bedding. Female salespeople are generally better at selling benefits than men, who tend to be better at selling features. Information regarding coil counts, border wire gauge or other construction features is unimportant, unless these features have a particular impact on comfort, durability or the health benefits of the sleep system in question. Engineers are the only ones who can appreciate construction features for their own sake; the consuming public in general cares more about the benefits in terms of increasing the personal value the mattress has for them. Since most bedding shoppers are women or couples (usually including at least one woman), the processoriented female salesperson can usually break the ice more quickly through social conversation and empathetic listening. Male salespeople tend to cut to the chase too quickly, bypassing the getting-to-know-you phase that all relationships must go through before trust can develop. In these tough times, women are particularly successful as bedding salespeople for another reason. Since most women are now both homemakers and breadwinners, there is a mutuality of understanding between customer and salesperson when it comes to determining value per dollar spent. While many male salespeople can and have developed effective relationship-building techniques, most women are imbued with these qualities from their formative years. They are way ahead of the game. To be successful in the bedding business, it used to be enough to have the best brand-name selections at the best prices—and this is still important. However, the man or woman who meets the customer face-to-face in the store is critical to the process. Whether male or female, salespeople have to listen with real understanding, engender trust and earn the right to give the customer advice. They must then relate the benefits of the product to the specific personal needs and ideals of the customer. The old adage “People do business with people they like” has never been truer than it is today. ● James Grandillo is a senior retail consultant for JRM Sales & Management, Inc., a Kennesaw, GA-based consulting firm whose clients are primarily in the retail home furnishings industry. Jim has more than 30 years of hands-on retail experience in all aspects of home furnishings. As a consultant, he has helped to improve the performance of more than 100 independent retailers throughout the country. For more information, visit the JRM website at www.jrmsales-mgmt.com or call 678-574-0937.
SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
CLOSING WORDS by Gerry Morris
How to answer two challenging questions
f not handled properly, two questions can send shoppers elsewhere before you even get the chance to engage them. Here are some suggestions to overcome these difficult challenges.
While brand is important to people as they begin their shopping mission, most will be willing to switch to a different brand when they like, trust and have confidence in their sales associate.
1. “Do you carry brand X?”
2. “What is your cheapest
If you don’t, you must tell them so. But your goal should be to keep them in the store and engage them in conversation with the hope of getting them to consider your products. The best way to do that is by asking questions that can give you some time and the information you need to be able to respond. “Have you ever slept on Brand X before? If so, what is it you like about it? If not, what interests you about it?” You can use the customer’s answer to make positive comparisons to the products you carry. When you mention your products, do so with the confidence that you believe she would truly benefit by sleeping on your brand. “Our brand also offers that feature and some others. May I show you?” It’s always a good idea to compliment the brand the customer is asking about. Doing so doesn’t diminish your brand, while saying something negative is disrespectful to her and can cause ill will toward you. “Brand X is a great brand. There are a multitude of brands to choose from, but after our research and experience, we selected brand Y and we’ve had tremendous success with it over the years. We have lots of satisfied customers.”
32 SleepSavvy • July/August 2009
If possible, collect testimonials and print them to hand out for validation. Tell her it’s important to understand that whatever model she selects, she’ll be spending 10 full days sleeping on it every month for a number of years. “It’s one of the most significant purchases you can make. If you can take just a few moments, I’ll show you some of our most popular models. It’s always a good idea to research and compare before buying such an important and personal product.” At that point, shift the focus from the mattresses to her. “First, let me ask you a couple of questions that are important to consider. How many hours do you sleep a night? Do you sleep on your back, side or stomach? How would you describe your lifestyle? Busy? Hectic? Not only can we help you find the right bed, but we also have lots of information on how to get a great night’s sleep. That’s what’s different about us.”
When people ask, show it to them with confidence—being evasive creates mistrust. Then immediately start asking questions to engage them and help keep them in the store. “What prices have you found so far? Are you replacing a worn-out bed? What mattress have you been sleeping on? How long did it last? Is price your only consideration? Have you ever slept on a really comfortable mattress?” Mention that you have some very affordable mattresses that won’t have to be replaced as quickly and are also much more comfortable, which makes them a better value than a cheaper product. Most shoppers are reasonable and will at least consider your offer. But for those whose only concern is low price, sometimes the best buy is “Goodbye.”● Gerry Morris is director of training and development for SleepTrust. As a bedding sales rep for more than 20 years, Gerry has shared his insight with thousands of bedding sales professionals. He is also the author of Spring Training: A Supplementary Guide to Mattress Sales and Sell More Bedding…Guaranteed. Contact Gerry at Gerry.Morris@SleepTrust.com or by cell phone at 903-456-2015. www.sleepsavvymagazine.com
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