By Gordon Hecht, Serta Simmons Bedding

It’s very likely that your incoming bedding shopper never buys the cheapest wine, cut of meat, athletic shoe or automobile. They probably don’t live in the cheapest house in town. Yet they come in looking for the cheapest mattress.

They may rationalize it to you as “It’s only for a guest room/vacation home/kid’s room” and so on. But you and they already know that it’s foolish to go low price on a good night’s sleep.

Low-price merchandise gets sold because of fear. They believe that if they don’t invest a lot of do-re-mi, then they have less to lose. They can toss it out in a year (which they never do), resulting in years of substandard support that gets replaced by another cheap bed.

These shoppers don’t have confidence in the value of better bedding, mainly because the result of investing in the best solution for them has not been explained in a compelling story.

Fear plays into the sales process too! Pareto’s rule of 80/20 applies to your sales team too. Check it out and see if 80 percent of the premium product sales in your store are written by the top 20 percent of your sales team. That includes mattresses, adjustable bed bases, pillows and protectors. Even if your team has a 50 percent attachment rate on adjustables and 80 percent on protection, how many units are your top-shelf items?

Often your sales team is reluctant to show those items because they are not confident in explaining each product’s value to their shoppers. The result is no presentation or a Swiss cheese sales pitch that’s full of holes. For many salespeople, it’s just easier to roll with low price and free extra merchandise and services.

The Don LaFontaine Sales Pitch

You wouldn’t recognize his face, but you sure know his voice. Don LaFontaine was the voiceover for hundreds of movie trailers. He had 60 seconds to sell a multi-million-dollar product.

In a 2007 interview, LaFontaine explained the strategy behind his signature catchphrase. “We have to very rapidly establish the world we are transporting them to,” he said. “That’s very easily done by saying, ‘In a world where…’ You very rapidly set the scene.”

Selling higher-end merchandise requires individualized, compelling stories for each shopper. People buy the same product but for different reasons — their own. Transport those shoppers to a world where their sleep issues are resolved and they can march forward fully restored feeling young, strong and revitalized.

It’s a world they have not been to for a long time, and they will be willing to pay the price of admission to get there.

Gordon Hecht is Senior Regional Manager/Strategic Retail Group at Serta Simmons Bedding and a regular contributor to YSN. You can reach him at