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Selling Boxsprings - The Rodney Dangerfield of Furniture

Furniture World Magazine


If box springs could talk, their first words might be, “We don’t get no respect.


If box springs could talk, I imagine their first words might be, “We don’t get no respect,” so slighted is the box spring by the average customer shopping for a sleep set. In fact, no other furniture item is as much slighted as the box spring. This is probably so for several reasons. They are made in mattress factories, not in box spring factories. Stores advertise mattress sales, not box spring sales. Platform beds and bunk beds don’t even use a box spring. When customers do buy the box spring alone, they do not ask about its warranty, a sure sign that they do not believe the box spring contributes to the comfort life of the mattress. Evidently they view the box spring’s sole purpose as that of helping to prop up the mattress to a comfortable elevation. Any wonder then that salespeople often hear their customers say they are looking only for the mattress and not for the box spring, even though they have had the same mattress and box spring for years and years? I have one more explanation for most customers’ low opinion of the box spring. Customers can feel and see when the mattress has had it: it sags, it’s lumpy; it takes on stains and blemishes, especially when the mattress was not shielded by a mattress pad or treated with stain protection. Meanwhile, despite the sad state of the mattress, the box spring still looks good, much as the shock absorbers on our cars still look good when they are worn out. In other words, when customers say, “My box spring is still good, they really mean that their box spring still looks good. And well it should since it was shielded all those years by the mattress.

So how do you reply to customers who come in for a new mattress, but tell the salesperson their box spring is still good. My advice is not to challenge that statement at all. Merely acknowledge it with a nod and a gracious smile, thank the customer for sharing that with you, and quickly proceed to sell the mattress, unless you want to end up selling neither the mattress nor the box spring. At this point the customer will view any talk about the importance of the box spring negatively. Put first things first, just as you put your socks on before your shoes.

There is a process you must follow in this situation. Every process calls for steps. Now I know you’ve probably heard the quip that the trouble with memorizing our lines is that the customers keep on forgetting theirs. My answer to that is that salespeople need to focus less on the lines their customers keep on forgetting and more on remembering their own lines. “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll probably never get there” is a useful oxymoron. Besides, I am not asking you to use the same process for every selling situation. One size does not fit all. The legendary American psychologist Abraham Maslow was most perceptive when he warned that if you are only good with the hammer, every thing will start to look like a nail! Here is the process.

As soon as the customer tells you that his box spring is still good, acknowledge those words with a nod and gracious smile and thank the customer for sharing that information with you. You might say the following: “Let’s work together to find the kind of mattress you’re looking for.” Let’s say you went on to sell the customer a premium mattress. It is at this point that you begin to work on the customer’s indifference about buying the box spring, but do not go into any supporting statement at this time about the benefits of the box spring. That will turn off the customer sure as death and taxes. Instead, say the following: “Earlier you mentioned that your box spring was still good.” Now use some concessive psychology. Say the following: “ You mentioned that you’ve had your old set for some years, more than you care to remember. Now even though it is a fact that most box springs wear out before the mattress, let’s give your old box spring the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say it is still good. Would you agree that it is not as good as it was when you bought the set?” Most customers will give you at least a weak nod. Acknowledge that nod with a stronger nod of your own. Then use these words: “That makes sense. What ever does the supporting usually wears out sooner than that which it supports, whether that is an athlete’s legs or the shocks on a car. I believe you’ll agree that junk yards do not sell used car shocks, even though some of those used shocks may have some life left in them.” The customer nods again. You nod. Then you add. “Earlier you asked about the warranty on this mattress, a sure sign that you are not anxious to start shopping for another new mattress soon.” If the customer is from Minnesota, he’ll answer with, “You betcha!” Now comes the punch line: “How do you feel about putting your new mattress on your old box spring knowing that at best it is not a new shock absorber?” I don’t wait for the customer’s answer. Quickly add the following: “You don’t have to buy the new box spring today. Pay for the mattress alone now at the 60% we agreed upon. When you get the mattress home, see how your old box spring performs on its old box spring. Should you decide that you want to add the box spring, give me a call. We’ll add the box spring so that you’ll get today’s sale price for the set. How’s that?”

What I have found is that a considerable number of the customers will ask you to write up the box spring right away. Some will call you within a short time to add the box spring. What do you have to lose? Arguing with the customer about the importance of the box spring or threatening the customer with the loss of warranty for the mattress alone doesn’t seem to work too well. Give this process a try. Add one more tool to your box. I guarantee you one thing. You’ll end up doing a lot less hammering and a lot more selling.

Corporate trainer, educator and speaker Dr. Peter A. Marino has written extensively on sales training techniques and their furniture retailing applications. Questions on any aspect of sales education can be sent to FURNITURE WORLD at pmarino@furninfo.com.

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