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Selling Furniture & Mattresses – What Does Buying Tires Have To Do With Buying Mattresses?

When my old boss from Serta Jeff Allen would train retail salespeople he would compare shopping for tires to mattress shopping. His reasons for doing so were because of the similarities between the two products. They were both need driven purchases which were highly promoted and both had high levels of customer confusion. Sadly enough over twenty years later little has changed. I recently inspected my tires on our Suburban to find the back tires were bald and my wife was going to drive it over three hundred miles in the next two days. I needed new tires now! Does this sound familiar? Here are the highlights of our shopping experience.

Surrender- I did not buy anything. I surrendered. I gave up. I wonder how many mattress customers feel the same way.

Confusion- I did not know which salesperson was telling the truth and who was not. Perhaps they were all telling the truth. All of the retail consumer studies I have seen indicate the mattress customer feels the same frustration. If they are not confused at the beginning of their shopping they certainly are after their second stop. Anything that we as salespeople can do or say to minimize customer confusion will go a long way to helping our customer have an enjoyable shopping experience with us, ultimately resulting in a sale and more importantly a loyal customer.

Oh No!- Because I did not understand the benefits and features I started to compare price and warranty. Oh no! I cannot believe I did that. I never shop for anything that way. I almost always buy a better quality item at a higher price. Now I understand why a mattress customer compares prices and warranties. They simply have given up even trying to understand the one item in their house that directly affects their health and vitality. How sad is that! We need to change the mattress industry one customer at a time.

Solution- I went back to the store where I normally buy my tires. They are not conveniently located as they are about thirty five minutes away. There are around forty tire dealers between my house and them. I really wanted to find a dealer closer to my home. The confusion drove me back to the dealer that I trusted. I am always fond of saying that customers prefer to buy from people they know, like, respect, and trust. I guess I do too!

Action Step- Please post your comments or questions. I answer them all. Please post comments on how you eliminate confusion when you are working with your customers. Also how do you create trust with your customers? If you haven’t already, please check out my new video at  For more ideas or to share successes please call me at 419-560-3169.

Wishing You Success,

Pete Primeau

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Comments (8)

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  1. Pete Primeau says:

    Really good article. A few years back I went shopping for tires as well, and after going to the big box stores, I settled on Northfield tire because of the the expertise of their salespeople and the services they offered. Mainly, they had a higher price initially upfront, but they explained free lifetime rotation, road hazard protection, balancing and mounting, as well as tire disposal all included in their price. Many of the other stores charged for some of these services. After finding out my needs, they took time to explain what services they offered all for the price of the tire. The best RSA’s need to explain that the lowest price isnt always the best deal by explaining the services that their store offers. In the long run I saved money even though I paid more upfront. And no, I didnt buy the most recognized brands or the cheapest tires, but they lasted for 80,000 miles as I used their services frequently.
    I had such a good experience that I told my business partner about them and he has been a customer of theirs as well.


    Nick  B. Markos

  2. Pete Primeau says:


    Jeff Allen might have seen an old Sealy Training Film: “a Friend In the Business”, a film made outlining the experience you went thru….. the main character ( a RSA) was buying tires and then using that experience to relate better to his bedding customers….acting as that consultant “Friend in the Business”. You wrote it up well.

    John Clark
    Eastern VP of Sales Southerland Inc.

  3. Pete Primeau says:

    Buying tires is pretty close to mattress shopping since they’re both blind items.
    The difference is that you get to “test drive” the mattress, but not the tires. (ironic isn’t it?)
    At the very least, you can see & hopefully feel the difference between mattresses, although looks can be deceiving as we know.

    Kind regards,

    Ira Fishman
    EVP Sales at Anatomic Global

  4. Pete Primeau says:

    Thank You Ira! You are right. It is ironic!

  5. Marina Klima says:

    The value of trust grows faster than anything else when it comes to retail purchases. I would go miles, and miles to buy ANYTHING from people I trust, like you Pete. In this world nothing compares to finding people and professionals with integrity and knowledge. I have window treatments installer that is …well…expensive. I will not trade him for a better deal on installations of my work. Know why? He saves my face and provides customer experience, never fails to go extra to wow the customer and shows up on time. He knows my loyalty and is always there for me. It saves me a lot of money at the end because it is NEVER about the price or a fee.

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