“I would rather trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason.” – Stanley Baldwin
In his #1 best seller, Blink, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, author Malcolm Gladwell, reveals that our subconscious is even more powerful than we thought, going well beyond intuition.
There is part of our brain that leaps to conclusions called the adaptive unconscious. The study of this kind of decision making is one of the most important new fields in psychology.
I believe this book contains a great number of ideas and concepts that can open up new areas of discussion to help our industry better communicate with and serve our customers.
Here are a few of the major points along with my thoughts on how they can impact retail mattress sales.
Gladwell says this “giant computer of ours” is capable of making very quick judgements based upon very little information. He asserts these subconscious decisions are often superior to our conscious ones because the “more is better” approach often creates too many hypotheticals, resulting in confusion.
- Mattress shoppers immediately begin to draw conclusions about a retailer from the moment they enter the parking lot. It’s important that every detail of our presentation be objectively examined, improved or enhanced and maintained.
- Based upon the messages from a store (advertising) and about a store (word of mouth) prospective shoppers quickly decide whether or not to visit. If they choose to, most formulate expectations. i.e “I’m going to get bang for my buck”, or “I’m going to find a mattress that I can sleep better upon.”
Gladwell demonstrates the effectiveness of what he calls “thin slicing” using a study group to identify effective vs. ineffective college professors based upon only two seconds of video tape with no sound. Their judgements were consistent with evaluations of those same professors made by student’s after a full semester of classes.
- Shoppers size up RSA’s immediately. There is nothing more important than being fully prepared. Everything from product knowledge and selling skills to grooming, attitude and body language must be scrutinized.
- It works both ways, RSA’s also make snap judgements about their shoppers. It’s important to never judge by appearance. Instead, assume that each shopper may likely choose to buy a top quality mattress.
In another study, Gladwell shows that doctors that weren’t sued for malpractice are ones that patients thought listened to them and cared about them. For patients, it isn’t what happens to them that causes them to sue, it’s if they like the doctor or not. The report went on to show that the doctors not sued, spent on average, 3 minutes longer with each patient.
- The point we should consider is obvious. RSA’s that take the time to listen, show respect, and address concerns will be much more successful than those that don’t.
Gladwell goes on to describe a cardiac clinic that discovered three basic indicators could be used to determine which patients complaining of chest pain would actually go into cardiac arrest. The accuracy of the predictions far exceeded the cardiologists’ judgements based upon multiple factors and years of experience.
- Can we as an industry boil down the information we can obtain from our customers to a few indicators that will determine the type of mattress that will be best suited for them? I have some ideas that will be the subject of a future blog.