Every bed needs sleep accessories—and though our industry doesn’t always approach it this way, sleep accessories have more to do with selling mattresses than they do selling accessories.
Those are the wise words of Dr. Alan Vonder Haar—also known as Dr. V, director of bedding for Miskelly Furniture—and he has some advice for mattress salespeople selling soft goods and sleep accessories: sell the story.
At independent furniture and mattress stores, you can’t rely on flashy branding to make a soft good or sleep accessories sale—it comes down to sales associates and whether or not they include these items in the overall selling process.
“There’s a reason they came to a brick-and-mortar instead of shopping online, so dig in and find out why,” Dr. V says.
At Miskelly, the first thing salespeople do is pull a pillow—because “no one is threatened by a pillow.” Then they use the pillow to break down the wall customers put up when they know they have to deal with a mattress salesperson.
If you try to sell a mattress right off the bat, that builds the wall higher. So the question is, how do you connect?
“When I pull a pillow, I tell them we are fitting them for the pillow before getting started,” Dr. V explains. “One of the hardest things for a mattress salesperson to overcome is actually getting the customer to lay down on the mattress. Most guests want to come in and touch it or sit down, but they feel uncomfortable laying down. But the only way to find the right fit for a pillow is to have you lay down on the mattress.”
With that, Dr. V shows his customers two pillow options, asking if they prefer the thinner or thicker pillow. He likens it to going to an eye doctor where they ask “which is clearer, one or two?” With four pillow options available and two offered to the customer, Dr. V says they’re usually going to like one of them.
Then—in terms of selling a mattress—he gets his first yes, so future yesses are easier. From there, the customer takes ownership of the pillow and carries it around while Dr. V shows them other products, like memory foam mattresses or sheets.
“We always say it’s not about the mattress, it’s about the way you sleep,” Dr. V explains. “You have to have products the RSA will use to help guests get better sleep. And there has to be a reason that I as a salesperson am going to spend the time and energy to pull these items and ask you to try them.”
For that reason, Dr. V says he looks for products with a story that can be told on a regular basis. He says you can’t coach for results, but you can coach for the process. “Sleep accessories are part of the process that goes into taking care of our guests,” he adds.
Another way you can sell soft goods and accessories is through helpful programs. At Miskelly, they offer the Sleep Comfort Guarantee, which allows the customer to return the mattress if they aren’t happy with it. However, the guarantee is only available to customers who buy a mattress protector, and since the mattress can’t be returned if it’s stained, Dr. V encourages his salespeople to talk about protectors to help make that sale.
And when selling sheets, specifically, you have to keep in mind what kind of mattress the customer has. The way memory foam material works, you end up sleeping more in the mattress than on it. But if sheets are too tight, Dr. V says it will be like a trampoline on top of the mattress.
“Sheets complement the technology they’re investing in,” he adds. “Now it becomes part of a sleep system.”
Overall, Dr. V says that if you have a process that’s ingrained and a story you can tell to each and every guest each and every time, then the process becomes a habit.
And instead of looking at it as selling—which can build a wall between the salesperson and customer—instead, consult with the customer to find out what they really need.
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