Part 10— by Scott Morris
When a sales associate suggests adding a mattress to a bedroom set purchase,
that sale may start to get complicated and possibly go really wrong.
Most Furniture World readers realize that educating sales staff should be,
at least in theory, an ongoing process.
Many, however, haven’t thought about the “foremost topic” they should pencil
in for continuing education once their full line “standard” new hire sales
training has been completed. That topic will reveal itself once the
following questions have been properly answered.
Which customer’s room affords your store its biggest average ticket?
- What item in your store has the highest margins?
What is the biggest “add-on” most home furnishings stores routinely sell?
- Which item provides the best “cross-selling” opportunity?
What is the one purchase that causes customers to remember you the most?
The answers to these questions all point to the benefit of selling a premium
mattress either with or without a bedroom set. When coupled with the sale of
a quality bedroom set, a premium mattress it is by far most stores’ highest
average ticket—also sold at above-average margins. A good mattress is the
perfect cross-sell to customers who don’t expressly come with the intention
of buying one. Those customers will remember their life-changing visit to
your store, assuming they’ve had a positive experience with a professional
and very helpful salesperson.
This is why focusing on ongoing mattress training provides the best payback
for your training time and efforts. It also zeros in on what’s by far the
most complex selling process your salespeople routinely face.
Selling bedroom sets requires salespeople to walk customers through the
steps of the sale to help them find the one collection they like the best.
Presentations must be based on the customer’s specific needs, skillfully
utilizing all the appropriate FABs. Then, the sale must be closed in a way
that includes all the right pieces they will need.
When salespeople suggest adding a mattress to a purchase, things can get
complicated and may start to go wrong.
Some shoppers begin to feel overwhelmed by information overload. Should this
happen, their natural tendency is to say, “I think we really need to go home
and think about it for a while.” Others find themselves thinking about the
financial burden of adding a mattress, an item they hadn’t originally
planned to buy.
There are times when the added mattress decision introduces uncertainty
about the entire purchase. That’s especially true if that decision is being
made by a couple that can’t agree. When this happens, it can cause them to
walk on the whole deal. Believe me, I found this out the hard way!
“When coupled with the sale of a quality bedroom set, this natural
add-on is by far most stores’ highest average ticket—also sold at above
What’s A Salesperson Supposed To Do?
For the few of you who remember the actor John Wayne, if he were writing
this article, he might insert his signature phrase, “Now listen and listen
tight!” Every salesperson should get an agreement on the purchase of the
bedroom furniture and write everything down before moving on to an add-on
mattress sale! Sales meetings and training should repeatedly stress this
point. Why? Let’s say the bedroom furniture sale hasn’t been finalized and
problems arise with the add-on mattress purchase. If the shopper gets cold
feet, the furniture part of the sale can still be salvaged. The salesperson
can say “I understand! You came in for a bedroom set and decided on the one
that’s absolutely perfect for you. Let’s process your beautiful bedroom set
now and lock in the delivery date you need. Then you can return if you
decide on the mattress.”
That approach will almost always save the bedroom sale. At that point, if
the salesperson writes up the furniture sale as close to the mattress
gallery as possible, it can give customers a few minutes extra—on their
own—to reconsider. Once the pressure of making the first decision has been
lifted, they may gravitate back to the mattress gallery. Many times, they
will emerge with newfound confidence and say “we actually made a decision,
just go ahead and write up the mattress too!”
Perspectives on Mattress Training
New hires who haven’t sold furniture before often find that the amount of
information they are required to absorb is daunting. This includes furniture
styles, brands, SKUs, construction, materials, store policies, the selling
process, delivery, customer service, computer systems/order processing,
protection plans, warranties, decorating insights and your accessory
They often have to train themselves by listening to impersonal computer
modules, and be sales-floor-ready in about two weeks. Once mattress training
is added to the mix, most new hires feel frustrated, confused, and
“There are times, when the added mattress decision introduces
uncertainty about the entire purchase. That’s especially true if that
decision is made by a couple that can’t agree.”
That’s why, when I was a sales manager, upon the completion of their
training, I asked every new hire, “How did your training go?” The three most
common responses were:
“I don’t feel like I know how to talk about the furniture in a very
"I don’t feel like I was really taught how to connect very well with my
- “No one actually shows you how to sell the furniture.”
I believe it’s a good idea for every furniture and mattress retailer to ask
every new hire who has completed initial training if they agree or disagree
with the above comments. My philosophy, which was acquired by asking those
questions, led me to believe the following:
The high salesperson turnover rate in the industry is due to these
shortcomings in training.
A high turnover rate results in novices waiting on a large percentage of
retail customers every day, which negatively impacts store performance in
a multitude of ways!
“If the salesperson writes up the furniture sale as close to the
mattress gallery as possible, it can give customers a few minutes extra—on
their own—to reconsider.”
Mattress Company Reps
Mattress-specific orientation training usually adds some demonstrations by
mattress companies’ sales reps. Regarding these presentations, please,
again, “Listen and listen tight!”
Later in my sales career, I observed that many mattress sales reps have
limited direct experience giving live mattress demonstrations to retail
customers. They tend to focus almost exclusively on explaining product
features. Real-life retail mattress demonstrations, in contrast, almost
always unfold along the lines of highly interactive, emotionally reactive
This epiphany caused me to rethink my mattress presentation approach,
focusing instead on the “7 key psychological moments” customers experience
during every mattress presentation. Before incorporating these key
psychological moments, I was already my store’s number one mattress
salesperson. Afterwards, my mattress sales rose by another 50 percent!
A Training Epiphany Awaits You Too!
If you are responsible for sales training, as a first step it is important
to understand the true feelings your new sales hires experience after they
complete their initial training. This alone will provide you with firsthand
insight into how your training needs to improve.
“When I was a sales manager, upon the completion of their training, I
asked every new hire, ‘How did your training go?’ The three most common
Mattress training alone includes roughly half of the necessary training most
salespeople need. New hires should learn all the feels and firmness of every
mattress and the comparative differences among the major brands, both yours
and your competitors. Also, know the different types of mattresses and
materials, adjustable bases, when to present a split king or queen, low
profile bases and bunkie boards. They must be able to present protector pads
and pillows, advise customers about healthy sleep, and the impact that a
good mattress can have on avoiding a host of health issues. And one more
thing. They must know how to take charge of the sales process by delivering
a convincing and emotionally charged mattress demonstration.
This, my friends, is why every spare minute you have, should be focused on
mattress training. It’s not a challenge you should take lying down!