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Bedding Sales Observations From Peter Marino: Can A Mattress Be Comfortable?

Furniture Industry News Update - Furniture World Magazine
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Article Summary: A short discussion of the words comfort, firm, hard and soft from the perspectives of the mattress, the buyer and the sales associate.


Of all the adjectives that describe a good mattress, none is more to the point of how the customer ends up loving his or her mattress as ending up having a "comfortable" night’s sleep on that mattress.

The adjective, comfortable, signifies the following: capable of soothing distress and sorrow, of easing grief or misery by bringing hope, consolation, and silent enjoyment to the user or wearer. Given the fact that the word, comfort, as well as the adjective, comfortable, never signifies what a thing feels, but only what an animal or human being feels, no mattress can be viewed as being comfort per se. It can only be viewed as that which brings comfort to the user or wearer, as in the case of jeans. One manufacturer of jeans uses the following words in its ad: “Jeans that are comfortable.” Yet, no jeans per se are comfortable: only the wearer can be said to find jeans comfortable or not. Or not. Therein lies the rub. Every mattress a salesperson sells is either comfortable to the buyer or not.

How different the words firm, hard, and soft. It is never the buyer who is firm, hard, or soft. Only the salesperson can view a mattress as being firm, hard, and soft. Left to themselves, mattresses are not firm, hard, or soft. Metaphysically, the words firm, hard, or soft are, in and of themselves, neither positive nor negative. The soldier who sleeps in a foxhole can find it as comfortable as the most comfortable mattress, or even more comfortable. On the other hand, the adjective, comfortable, can only be said to convey how an animal or human being feels.

Those who sell mattresses must always keep in mind that no mattress can, in and of itself, be said to be comfortable. Unfortunately, should a salesperson ask a mattress if is comfortable, asking that would end up being a mute question!

But what is the value of all this to the salesperson?

Indispensable, provided the salesperson is a side by side buyer. In today’s world, more and more buyers are buying without the help of a salesperson. Meanwhile, no salesperson can sell without a buyer. Therefore, long ago I concluded that the best salespeople view selling from the perspective of the buyer. The words “comfort selling,” while well intentioned, were not well aimed. It is not the comfort of the salesperson, but that of the buyer that ought to carry the most weight. The consequence of not viewing selling as buying is the same as taking the time to ask a mattress whether it is comfortable or not. After all, what salesperson wants to waste his or her precious time asking mute questions?


Corporate trainer, educator and speaker Dr. Peter A. Marino has written extensively on sales training techniques and their furniture retailing applications. Scores of his articles are posted to the "Sales Skill Index" on furninfo.com. He is available for in-store training, and speaking. He can be reached at cicero@paulbunyan.net

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