I thought buying a car was a royal pain in the “you know what”. Until yesterday, walking into a car dealership to buy a car was number one on my list of things I rather have root canal than do. No more. Mattress shopping waaay more painful than root canal OR car shopping. Thank goodness it’s been more than 12 years since Gail and I shopped for a mattress.
It seems over those 12 years I was able to forget the pain. I’ll get to the experience in a minute, but as we were driving away from the store, I told Gail that I wished we had recorded the salesman’s presentation so I could critique it for all our sales people. Shopping for a mattress was indeed educational – not so much about mattresses but about selling techniques – and of course I compare everything to Real Estate so I would like to share with you some key take-aways from the experience.
First and foremost – if a sales person asks you how much money you want to spend before he asks you anything else; run, do not walk, away. I was reminded of the “fill your refrigerator and pantry” sales people from years ago. They would promise to cut your monthly food costs. All you had to do was pick a monthly food budget, and they would deliver, every two weeks, all the food you needed after filling out a questionnaire. They would not get real specific on how much rice and beans you would get versus meat and poultry; and the basic premise was: Trust US with your money. I’m sure they went back to their offices, started with how much profit that they had to make and used the rest of the money to buy food. Good for them, not so good for the purchaser.
In the case of mattresses – and for the most part they all look the same on the outside – you have to trust the company about what’s on the inside – just tell them how much you want to spend. The salesman at Mattressfirm told me that Posturpedic will not allow them to show a cutaway of the mattress so I could see what was inside and indeed they were not allowed to discount. Keep in mind this is a company that has three stores within two miles of each other on 41 here in Fort Myers.
“Trust Me”…… I didn’t trust, and we didn’t buy. (and somehow I got out of there without embarrassing Gail)
Now, let me be clear about something, I have no problem with pre-qualifying a customer with how much he can afford. For sure there is no sense wasting time on looking at waterfront homes when all you can afford is a 3/2 without a pool. But truly it’s not about price; it’s about getting your money to work as hard as it can for you and getting the most value for your money.
If you had never been to Sarasota before and you told me on the phone that you wanted to buy a house on Siesta Key and the first the first question I ask is how much do you want to spend, AND you have NO CLUE as to pricing on houses in Sarasota – how are you going to feel? Better I should answer with, “I understand what you are asking, let me give you a review of the real estate possibilities on Siesta Key and then find out more about what you are looking for; then we can visit your options” My clients better find out during my discussion that I have a value to add to his experience. He better find out from me why prices on Siesta Key are what they are and why there is value there.
When I first came to Southwest Florida and was looking for an agent to help me find income homes, I had a few agents ask, as their FIRST question: How much are you looking to spend? I would quickly go to the next agent. For me it was about value, CAP rates, locations, quality, affordability, and indeed how much below market I was buying. Could I get seller financing? What was the upside? What value could I add to the property?
How could I trust a sales person that is working backwards? From him I hear, “Tell me how much money you have and I will take it”.
I can’t tell you how many times I worked with buyers that had indicated to me a ceiling on how much they would pay for a home and in the end they spend 10% to 20% more. They did that because of perceived value and a shift in priorities (and in these days: low interest rates and cost of borrow money). So the question really does mean much if a customer says how much money will they spend. It really depends on value received.
And it IS about TRUST. In order for me to believe a sales person I need to trust him first, and so do you..
Be an educated consumer. Gail and I spent a few hours on the internet before we went shopping. We knew that mattresses can be deeply discounted (50% is not unheard of), we knew we wanted to try a memory foam bed, we knew a little about pricing, but we were confused. Every manufacturer calls his mattress something different. There is a lot of “smoke and mirrors” out there. But when we left the house, we were prepared to buy a mattress. We headed to the store for the moment of truth. The moment of truth happens at the store, when we see, feel, and smell the product. The internet got us there – now will we buy? Indeed we were ALMOST pre sold on the internet, and we were prepared on what we had to pay, and then the salesman blew it. (there is a great e-book on The Zero Moment of Truth I highly suggest you read – I have posted the book on our website.) Before we went out to lie down on a mattress and lay down some money, we looked at a few You Tube videos, compared mattress web sites and read consumer reports.
There is ALWAYS an alternative. The sales guy thought we did not know that. I have preached this many times in the past. When you finally make a decision to buy, stop, walk away, and examine your alternatives. If you finally decide to spend $88,000 on an investment property you have been looking at…look at all the other ways you can spend and invest that same $88,000. Gail and I had decided on how much money we would spend on a mattress and we were ready to spend it. Now we had to determine how to get the best bang for our buck. We looked on the internet for alternatives to Posturpedic memory foam mattresses, found a few clear options, and I am certain that I will never set foot in a MattressFirm Store again.
How did the Sales Guy at MattressFirm blow it? For me the main reason was when he asked how much we could afford and he would show us the mattress for us. He also could not explain what I was getting for the increased price (the Value Add), and he never gained my trust.
To be successful in sales consulting you need to be good at all:
1. Trust – earn it, build it, and reinforce it.
2.Thoroughly explain you or your products value.
3.Know your clients alternatives.
And remember – Mattresses are very unsafe; most people die on them.