Mattress salespeople have been compared to used car salesmen for years—mostly because of how they haggle the price. And while that stigma is slowly evaporating, some retailers still find haggling as a good way to make sales and build relationships with customers.
The topic of haggling got FAM podcaster Brett Thornton thinking, so he asked his connections on LinkedIn if they still haggle with customers—and the results surprised him.
In the LinkedIn post, he said that he believes people do not want to haggle. They want transparency and fairness, especially in the mattress industry, to know they are not getting taken advantage of.
But the survey he posted showed that over 50% of people said maybe to haggling, with 35% saying yes, and just 8% saying they would never.
Thornton tells The FAM he was surprised by the results because based on what he has seen over the past five years he thought that haggling for the price was dying out.
“However, what I learned is that haggling is just done in a different way today,” he explains. “Everybody still wants to feel as though they are being taken care of and nobody wants to feel as though they are being overcharged. That shows up in the fact that people spend hours and hours doing research online, hunting for deals, and making sure that they are getting the best product for the best price.”
Thornton also adds that he believes the mattress industry would be better off eliminating the idea of “making deals.”
Many products today have locked pricing, but for brands to flat out tell people there is no discounting, and all prices are the final, sets up the retail team for a better relationship with the guest, according to Thornton.
“When the sales associate and guest both know what the price is they can skip the part around ‘wheeling and dealing’ and deal with the true value of a product and align guests with products that are in their price range without the dark cloud hanging over around what the price ‘might’ be. This would set up the guests with a true comparison where instead of searching for the best deal they are seeking out the best retailers and experiences that they want to work with.”
CK Ong, retail area manager for Avacado, commented on Thornton’s post saying that she’s not into haggling, but does like to be upfront if she’s done prior research and found or got a deal from somewhere else.
Having spent the last 10+ years in retail, I’ve noticed the best interactions happen when respect and transparency goes both ways,” she says.
Andrew Schlesser AKA MAttman, says he negotiates on product but not people.
“Services like delivery that require people are non-negotiable,” he says. “And if you don’t like haggling because you don’t feel confident at it, may I suggest some Never Split the Difference reading. Have fun not losing!”
Scott Moore, who works in regional sales at Visionary Sleep/Restonic, added that if the RSA or company has done a poor job of explaining value or making the value supersede the price then he may negotiate.
“I would rather not, because who knows how much you left on the table?” he says. “Great companies understand how their products, promotions, and policies ‘rank’ in their markets and go to market accordingly. Bad companies lead with price and drop as a closing tool. That’s short-term, transactional, and will lead to margin erosion. And ultimately failure.”
Thornton adds that retailers today benefit from going to a no discount policy with firm pricing. They can have sales that will drive urgency and excitement, but it doesn’t require the associate to manufacture the deal. Rather, it establishes a true relationship and value in their products.
“With the ability to check against competition right on your phone, trying to overprice a guest will backfire eventually anyways,” he says. “Retailers should also have a very liberal price match policy. Make sure that your guests do not have to worry about the price being better somewhere else or in the next couple of months. This will also aid in helping to get the sale today and allowing for a better guest and associate relationship.”
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