How to Serve Up a Winning Sales Presentation

Like a gourmet dish, effective mattress selling requires unique ingredients

By Seth Atkinson, Serta Simmons Bedding

The TV show “Chopped” is a popular reality-based series that airs on The Food Network. For those who have never watched the show, the concept is to set four semi-accomplished chefs against each other in a three-course meal competition.

At the beginning of each round the contestants are given a basket of core ingredients that range from something bizarre like chicken feet to something as ordinary as corn. Each contestant is required to use all the items in the basket, but can also pull other ingredients from a fully stocked kitchen. To win the competition, the chefs must transform the basket of unrelated ingredients into something delightful and delicious.

One by one, a participant is eliminated after each course until one chef stands victorious.

Sleep consultants and mattress specialists participate in a very similar competition every single day. The shopper entering the store door has an unknown issue causing loss of sleep, general discomfort or possibly even pain.

The shopper is not unique to you; it is possible, even likely, that she has shopped online or somewhere else before entering your store. This fact provides a unique opportunity: Your store and products are still an option, as she has not yet made a purchasing decision. The previous salesperson failed to make the correct connection between the mattress and the shopper. Like TV’s “Chopped,” you are given a basket of ingredients, which in this case are the shopper’s concerns about product, budget, durability and comfort. To advance, you will need to tap into the customer’s emotions and experiences as well.

Human emotions are primarily linked to an individual’s life experiences and are the driving force behind big-ticket purchases. This plays out in two ways in the mattress department. First is the experience the shopper has with her current mattress and second is the experience she had while in your store.

Successful salespeople use both to create an advantage by constructing a presentation centered around the shopper rather than the mattress. They ask about the number of hours she normally sleeps; how she feels in the morning; how long she has been suffering; and the key issue that prompted the search for a replacement. Often neglected by salespeople, the shopper’s answers can provide valuable information.

Asking questions like these draws from the shopper’s experience and creates an emotional tie because the sale transitions the shopper’s focus inward. She is no longer buying a commodity but rather a solution to a specific and personal need. Just like creating a flavorful entrée, you’ll create a personalized solution seasoned to your shopper’s individual taste.

And just like the task baskets the chefs get on TV, you never know what’s inside your next shopper. Examine the ingredients, mix the flavors right, and you’ll have a winning presentation, rather than one that’s on the chopping block.

Guest columnist Seth Atkinson is a Territory Manager for Serta Simmons Bedding and is filling in this week for Gordon Hecht. Seth brings a couple of decades of experience in mattress retail and manufacturing to this article and to his job.