My story begins in a simple way; we needed a new mattress.
Now, like many, I have exercised that “replace your mattress every 5-10 years” liberally. I’m embarrassed to even tell you how old our mattress was. But we were moving and I had the perfect opportunity to toss that one and have a brand-new sleep experience delivered and set up in my new home.
I started my journey like any good elder millennial: online. I googled every iteration of the phrases “are bed-in-a-box worth it?” and “bed in a box review”. I searched high and low for whatever long-term use studies I could find about Kiwi/The Friendly Ghost/Orange/Black/Whatever they’re naming mattress companies these days. Nothing. Even with my best Nancy Drew outfit on, I just couldn’t find true consumer data. I ended up on the most commonly-known luxury brand’s website. It was bright and warm and gave me everything I needed to know. They had even come up with their own bed-in-a-box and it was conveniently lower than my price range, on holiday weekend sale.
Nervous, I looked at my partner and planned our Saturday morning. We’d head into the store to review this thing in person and give the associates there our business if they performed well enough. After all, I’m a salesperson by nature and want to help any salesperson grab some commission.
We arrived with our 1.5-year-old strapped to a stroller and a friendly greeting. That’s when the ghouls came out to play. We were dragged through a forest of spider pillows and tangly mattress stuffing cobwebs. Asked to stick our hands into a mystery jar of what could only be eyeballs all while my toddler began to growl just a little louder.
I kept saying we should turn back, but my partner is nicer than I am and kept taking the bait.
The associate continued to lead us down the primrose path and then he wanted us to crawl into bed, just to test it out. The red flags were raised and I knew there was something amiss. He was having us test a bed two times the cost of the one I asked for. He told me the product I wanted was junk, though he flip-flopped a few times on if it was or not. Even when I tried desperately to negotiate, he didn’t listen. He had a speech prepared and he was going to use it.
I begged, “Please sir, my husband is a bionic man, he needs a firm mattress”, I cried “This toddler isn’t going to last through this presentation, please let us go!” and eventually, I gave him all of my contact information and promised to come back later and buy a mattress from him because I’m not a monster.
I got in the car and ordered the faulty bed-in-a-box. For posterity: we absolutely love it, especially the monster of a toddler.
The moral of my story is that shoppers are sophisticated. If you didn’t give them that credit it’s time to start doing so. Sure, fifty years ago there weren’t multiple streams of information, so you really did have to trust an in-store expert. But now? Now your sales people are literally competing against your own website.
If you’ve been writing scripts and tailoring a sales center (online or not), it might be time to reconsider. Homebuyers, and not just millennial homebuyers, want a deeply personal experience. They want to offer up all the juicy details of their life. We’re trained to spill our thoughts to strangers online, of course we want to tell you about our vision of home!
Create the information station. Put it all on your website and make sure you have someone or something to guide them through that but understand that that’s the ZMOT for them. Once they’re in front of you either on the phone, in person, or over video you’d better be ready to get to know them and what they need.
Even if you have the least customizable plans, it’s your job to understand the human in front of you and their use of their most precious space. You become the expert when you guide them to the right solution, perfectly tailored to who they are.
Don’t become another Halloween Horror and skip the feature frenzy.