Engaging the RSA Q&A

Manufacturers continue to update new collections with the latest technologies; taking into account trends and customer preferences in the market. With these changes, manufacturers continue to find new, innovative ways to educate RSAs on the modifications and how to convey the message to customers on the retail floor to in turn create more sales. To find out more on how companies are going above and beyond to engage RSAs at the retail level, we are asking a number of manufacturers a series of questions to learn the steps behind their training processes.

1. How do you teach RSAs about your company and products? 

*We take a multi-faceted approach to educating RSA’s about Kingsdown and our broad portfolio of products, and we’re always exploring new ways to improve. For instance, at the Winter Las Vegas Furniture Market we will debut our new Electronic Sales Training Program, and demonstrate our ability to transmit sales training modules to retailers via virtual diagnostic stands.

However, we still believe in the value of a face-to-face meeting. For any product launch, we host large interactive meetings and we continue to do this at regional and local levels. We also dedicate the time necessary for one-on-one training. From there we provide the tools our retail partners need for continued education. These include workbooks, product videos, component videos as well as interactive live web video meetings. —HOOD

*We started sleep-geek.com, the largest on line community in the world built for rsa’s selling mattresses. We do teach them about our products in the community, but more than that, we teach them how to connect a mattress to a better quality of life which is what will really sell sleep products. In addition we also have a very comprehensive website at www.beddingcomponents.com.—QUINN

*Establishing a dialogue with RSAs is a key part of our training success. In fact, our sales people – and executive staff – make a point to spend time on the road meeting face-to-face with the RSAs using motivational sales training so they are comfortable and confident with the benefits, features, and overall value of our products.

We are always in front of people providing individual training because it helps us stand out – something some of the larger sleep manufacturers don’t take the time to do. —NABOICHECK

*Serta believes in frequent in-person store visits that follow our company philosophy; “We grow our business by growing our retailer’s business.” Our company’s history and heritage is built into every Serta mattress to deliver a comfortably supportive sleep experience at all budgets. We teach RSA’s how specific technologies yield consumer benefits and how to match those benefits to the needs of the consumer. Our products are viewed through the lens of healthy sleep. –MUENKEL

*First and foremost it comes down to the reps and the relationships they build with the managers and RSAs in the store. We equip our reps with the training tools and collateral (i.e. Sell sheets, product samples, information sheets) they require to pass along to their accounts and develop new tools based on their requests.

When the stores and RSAs trust us they are comfortable asking questions and getting the information they need from us. Our internal customer service staff are trained on the products extensively so they can answer almost any customer call that comes in.

Launching soon: Our training portal! Another excellent tool that will engage RSAs and build their knowledge not only on our DreamSerene product line but also on how to improve their selling techniques. –DENTALE

2. How do you keep an ongoing conversation with RSAs between product launches?

*Serta believes the Reps are very important in keeping RSA’s motivated, informed and successful. We use in-person training events, seminars, DVD’s, e-Learning, handouts, interactive games, activities and factory tours. Many Serta Reps are accomplished sales professionals with years of retail sales experience. –MUENKEL

*The ‘ongoing conversation’ with retailers and RSAs is really driven by our local Kingsdown representatives. With their input and guidance, we are able to tailor our RSA education to meet specific needs. For instance, for one Midwest retailer we deliver “STLI LIVE” programs – it’s a series of live web video based conversations with Dr. Robert Oexman, Director of our Sleep to Live Institute. Dr. Oexman can educate the RSA’s on our products and the importance of focusing on the science of sleep. In contrast, for another retailer our training is driven by regular webinar programs that are followed up by Kingsdown reps in the store, who review the material on site. –HOOD

*Again it comes down to the feet on the street and store visits. We also use our comprehensive database management system to send e-blasts and faxes to communicate promotions and new campaigns. –DENTALE

*Inside of Sleep Geek we have a forum or live feed where anyone can post a comment, take a quiz, watch a video etc. All of this interaction was created so that people can consume our content and have a conversation with each other about that. The rsa's out there need to help each other because they are the best source of information when it comes right down to it. In addition we have created the only on-line mattress school in the industry we call Geek U. It is free to anyone and is a great source of information.—QUINN

*Maintaining an ongoing conversation is extremely important to us and why our executive staff is involved in training. Gold Bond’s goal is to reach out to our owner operated retailers and RSAs on a bi-weekly basis to make sure we are giving them what they need in terms of information on new products or changes to any existing products.

All of us– including my son Skip and me – are accessible 24/7. We even include our cell phone numbers AND home numbers on our business cards, so we can be there for our customers anytime they need us. –NABOICHECK

3. How do you convey your overall manufacturing message to RSAs?

*We work that through a feature we call Sleep in 60 seconds which is a video series found in Sleep Geek that was created to give rsa's the opportunity to learn about the industry and at times about a Leggett product. We try to make these high energy and fun to watch so that people will spend time looking at all of them and learning something along the way. We also developed an Innerspring Story video found at www.beddingcomponents.com. There is a short 2 minute version or there is a longer 10 minute story. Both are very well done and can help anyone in the industry get a better understanding of what Leggett and Platt does and all that goes into the production of an innerspring comfort and support system. Finally, we have built the largest LinkedIn group purpose built for the mattress industry called Mattress Industry Executives. This is also a place to learn from each other and have a good conversation/debate with others in the industry.—QUINN

*One of our key messages is that we are a brand like no other because of our hands-on approach. Not only do our sales people come out to check on floor samples and train RSAs, but I try to attend the training sessions as well. Not many retailers see the company owner at a meeting, let alone training their RSAs! I feel that’s the only way to make sure the RSAs have extensive knowledge of our products and help increase their sales.

Another way we convey our message is through superior service. We make it a point to meet with our delivery truck drivers to make sure they are knowledgeable about our products and will be able to answer any questions or concerns. Consistent and continuous interaction is key to our success. I also pride myself on being a part of this interaction. —NABOICHECK

*Serta has one of the most robust national advertising programs in the industry which offers the consumer and RSA detailed information on the technologies in our mattresses. We also have factory tours for those who love the ins and outs of the mattresses. Many Reps travel with component samples so the RSA can experience these technologies up close. –MUENKEL

*One of the manufacturing messages that we really drive home is the fact that Kingsdown’s products are handcrafted in the USA by employee-owners to provide unique innovations, guaranteed quality and significantly enhanced profit opportunities for retailers. With our Employee Stock Ownership Plan each and every mattress is personally crafted by the company’s ownership – and that’s something that truly sets us apart in the industry. –HOOD

*Our branding is extremely important to us and we make sure to that all of our messaging and materials are streamlined and simple to understand. We use icons to convey important features of the products and use a numbered “series” to communicate the product tier and positioning of the product to fill any price point and satisfy any consumers need.—DENTALE

4. What is the biggest challenge on the showroom floor and how do you aid RSAs to overcome it?

*Consumers place too much value on “price” when they should be focused on buying a mattress that is right for them. That’s not to say everyone needs to spend a lot, rather they need to focus on the right mattress FIRST then determine their budget and adjust accordingly. We teach RSA’s to engage the consumer through simple relevant questions that diagnose their sleep problems and needs. The consumer’s answers determine the features and benefits that would most apply to them and help them sleep well. –MUENKEL

*The challenge is to get the RSA involved the “after Sale” (Frames, Pillows, Protectors) during the mattress presentation, and not as an add on sale.

To do this we are advising that certain language be used during the mattress presentation. Discussing allergens, molds, and mildews that arise naturally in bedding products due to mattress interaction with humans (We sweat!!). Humans lose up to 1 pound of water per night. This moisture quickly causes bedding fibers to mold and mildew.

In essence we are trying to apply the mattress protector NOT JUST as a warranty protector against staining, but also as a health protector, creating a dual application:

1. Mattress protector protects the mattress warranty from being voided from a stain (Dream Serene Protectors also protect against accidents caused from rips, tears, burns, and cuts)

2. Mattress protectors protect the human from the mattress (with regard to allergen build up, mold and mildew) and the mattress from the human!

To supplement this language, Dream Serene Dealers have access to our on line training portal whereby all facets of protectors can be learned about, tested, reinforced and rewarded. —DENTALE

*Really, the challenges vary with every retailer, and that’s why we have to be flexible and adopt a different approach for each of our partners. Challenges can be both internal (RSA engagement and delivery practices) and external (competition). Our response is to train, train and train some more! We use every available medium (face-to-face, online, digital, in store diagnostic) to overcome hurdles and we find that being in tune with your retailer makes that much easier.—HOOD

*Our Sleep Geek's tell us that it has a lot to do with overcoming the price focus that most retailers focus on in advertising and getting the consumer to understand that buying a great quality mattress is about so much more than the price or the sale that is currently running. When we place so much emphasis on price and promotion, it is hard to get the consumer focused on the benefit of the products that we are selling.—QUINN

*Our biggest challenge is that we are not as well known as some of the other brands who have large advertising budgets. While some consumers are familiar with Gold Bond because of our company’s rich heritage, others are not aware of the high quality and incredible value our mattresses provide. This is why we rely heavily on a well educated RSA to take initiative and introduce Gold Bond products to consumers who may have come into their stores looking to seen another brand. —NABOICHECK

Visit www.kingsdown.com, www.cabersurefit.com, www.serta.com, www.goldbondmattress.com, www.leggett.com.