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Bedding knowledge key to Parisian RSA's success

Retail Bedding Playbook

PARIS - Mattress saleswoman Marianne Cornet gets some of the same questions fielded by salespeople in U.S. mattress stores.
"The customers want to know which bed is the best," said Cornet, who has been selling mattresses for five years and serves the discriminating shoppers who visit her at a Maison de la Literie Prestige store here.
Her response: "There is no absolute best bed. There are different things to consider. Everything depends on the customer's body type, the habits in how they sleep." She tells her customers that together they will begin the process to find the bed that best meets their needs.
Cornet also deals with the common issue of consumers thinking a firm bed will be best for them. "People are always asking for very firm beds," she said. "But then they understand that sleeping on a very firm bed is not the best for them."
Some of her customers have traveled widely and have experienced different types of mattresses. They have learned that they don't need a firm bed to get a good night of sleep.
Cornet's sleep shop here is stocked with stylish accessories in addition to mattresses, and that gives the shoppers more options to consider than in many U.S. mattress stores. "Consumers today are more and more concerned with the decoration of their room," she noted.
A key to her success on the sales floor is focusing on the customer's needs. "You have to understand the customer first and sell her what she wants," Cornet said. A good saleswoman quickly learns what beds interest the customer and concentrates on those beds, she said.
It's important, Cornet said, to keep the number of beds to be tested to no more than three or four. More than that, she said, and the consumer will get "lost" in the shopping process.
By stressing the importance of a good night's sleep, Cornet is able to trade consumers up to better beds. A consumer who plans to spend $3,000 might spend twice that amount if she realizes the importance the mattress can play in a healthy lifestyle, she said.
Does her gender give her an advantage in selling to other women? "No, it doesn't matter," Cornet responded. What is critical is the blend of mattress knowledge and the relationship she establishes with her customers, she said.
Product knowledge is important, she said, because "people know nothing about bedding," although some may think they do. "It's always great when you have someone who knows nothing (about beds) and you succeed in teaching them their bed is very important."

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