In my nearly 15 years working in the bedding industry, starting with my first retail mattress sales job at Sleep America in Tucson, AZ, one point has become abundantly clear: customers purchase products based on the perception of value that we create, and in order to build and portray that value to the customer we must use every tool at our disposal. The good news is that there are lots of these tools available that just about every manufacturer or retailer provides – product knowledge, POP, visual merchandising, retail environment, and more. While all of these tools are important, nothing actually makes more of a difference than our perception of the merchandize or services we are selling. When we truly embrace a new product, concept, or service, our unfeigned excitement and enthusiasm that we as salespeople inject into presentation is our biggest asset.
If there is ever a product category that needs a serious paradigm shift and realignment of priorities, it is the sleep accessories category - and there is no easier way to actualize this mental shift than to never call the category “sleep accessories” again. Probably best to forget using terms like “soft goods” or “add-ons” as well. Those names should be deemed sacrilege; they represent the antithesis of importance.
When we refer to a category like this, we should reserve a name that highlights its true value and ROI. I mean, think of the products we lump into this category and their true value. A pillow is used to rest our head and ensure proper neck alignment and comfort; the sheets we place on our sleep system dictate the “hand” or the top-level comfort we feel; the protectors underneath the sheets ensure we are safeguarded against dust mites, bed bugs, and moisture, and also contribute to the longevity and cleanliness of our sleep system. These are just a small sampling of products available in the category, but when we really think of the role they play in the overall comfort of the sleep system, they are not merely accessories, or add-ons - they are essentials. These sleep essentials are all key products that play a major role in the comfort and health of our overall sleep environment; they are crucial elements that enhance the experience of crawling into bed at night. We as sleepers bond to these items as much - if not more than - our mattresses.
The sleep essentials category is an extremely important one for consumers and their overall experience and happiness with their purchase, but also one that brings a tremendous profit opportunity for retailers and RSA’s. Did you know that today retailers all over the country are beginning to realize 10% – 15% of their balance of share dollars spawning from sleep essentials? That’s not shifting dollars around the pie, that’s actually growing the pie (by “pie” I mean total business). There are very few categories in our industry that allow us to so substantially increase our volume, profits, and commissions by not bringing in one extra customer, but instead by maximizing the potential of each customer that walks into our stores with products that truly enhance the sleep experience. Let’s also not forget these products generally have the highest profit margin for retailers and generally pay the most in commissions and spiffs to the RSA.
In future Sleep Geek articles, I will offer some tips on how to more effectively sell all of these sleep essentials - along with other topics mixed in from time to time. I guarantee there is no quicker way to get you on the road to selling salvation and success than to embrace the sleep essentials category. Think of the value that you are presenting to the customer when these goods are not simply “add-ons” or “accessories,” but essential elements of the sleep environment that if presented with enthusiasm and excitement, will truly enhance the consumer experience, overall happiness, and the potential opportunity for quality customer reviews or referrals.
So what are you waiting for? Go sell the essentials!
During his 14 years in the bedding industry Sean Bergman has held positions in both retail and wholesale. As Chief Marketing Officer at PureCare® by Fabrictech, the fastest growing top of bed sleep essentials manufacturer in the United States, Bergman is responsible for all sales and marketing. He serves on the Better Sleep Council and the company's PureCare protectors are the official mattress and pillow protectors of the National Sleep Foundation. Sean lives in Virginia Beach with his girlfriend Rachel and Rottweiler Talon. Connect with Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org