Aline and I decided to buy a new bed.

We’ve slept on the same bed for 17 years.
It cost a week’s salary back then. It has witnessed two babies, two houses, and 7 restaurants.

Baby vomit, sleepless nights, and arguments. The old queen mattress has some stories. Not all of them are good.

It is retired to the guest room.

I can sleep on the ground and sleep like a baby.
Must be the Boy Scout in me.

Aline has back problems. She needs a perfect mix of “cloud” and firm.

In the food and alcohol business, there’s a thing called cleansing the palette. By drinking water between tasting, you don’t influence the next concoction’s flavor.

Cleansing techniques don’t exist for mattresses.
After two, they all feel the same.

Aline remarked that mattress shopping is as painful as shopping for a bra.
I’ll take her word for it.

The up-and-down-and-turnarounds made me dizzy.
I tapped out and told Aline it was ultimately her decision.

They were like Herb Tarlic on WKRP. Talk fast, sell faster. Let’s get a deal done.
We will throw in the pillows. 100 day guarantee. Free delivery. Next day service.
I didn’t know if the room was spinning from too many bed tries or from the crap coming from Herb’s mouth.

The mattress choices were shortlisted to two.
They were at different stores, about 10 miles apart.
Both stores heavily advertise on the radio.
Our first choice was a Kingsdown. $3000 on sale for $1399 plus tax.
Our second choice was also a Kingsdown. $3000 on sale for $1999 plus tax.

Choice #1 wasn’t in stock. They promised six weeks for delivery.
Choice #2 was in stock and available for next-day delivery.

The difference in comfort was marginal.
We chose #2. Prepared to pay full advertised price…


The salesman opened his mouth.

“We will match the price of our competitors on any similar product.”

With one sentence, he converted us from relational buyers to transactional ones.
We were in his store because they carried Kingsdown.
Our relationship on Kingsdown was building.

“Match prices, eh”, my greasy transactional side thought.
“Your competitor has a Kingsdown for only $1399. Are you willing to match their price?”

We were ready to buy his mattress at the advertised price. Choice #1 wasn’t available.

He sharpened his pencil, spoke to his manager, and maybe cut his commission to make the sale.
Do they really talk to a manager or is it a grimy sales tactic to build suspense?

He exited his office and lowered the price from $1999 to $1217.
That was the easiest $782 I ever made. With taxes and delivery $1399. Price matched…

The mattress was delivered on time.
Everything was great, until the next morning.
I slept like a Boy Scout. Aline did not. Her back was sore.

Not sure if the bed was the culprit, we agreed to give it a week before making a return.
Aline’s back worsened with each night.
My Princess and the Pea was not sleeping well.
By the seventh night, she slept in the retired bed upstairs.

A 100 day “sleep guarantee” allowed us to return the mattress for another.

The salesman oozed confidence when he saw us walk in.
There was an arrogance about him. He wasn’t as accommodating this time.
He spoke of deals, but I could smell the smirk hiding under his lips.
We couldn’t get our money back.
We could only use our purchase as credit toward another bed.

After choosing another bed, Aline and her ailing back went to the car.
It was time for the men to discuss things.
The King must protect his Queen from the Jesters.

Jester: For only $1200 more…
King: No.

Jester: For only $785 more…
King: No.

Jester: How much are you willing to spend?
King: $500.

Jester: Well I can’t do that. My best offer is $765.
King: $500. It’s the difference in the sales price of the two beds.

Jester: Yeah, but you got an insane deal.
King: Who cares. Your price is $500 different. That’s the value you put on them. I’ll pay that $500 difference and I’ll walk out with the new bed.

Jester: You want a $4000 mattress for $1712. I’m at $765. You’re at $500. How about we split the $265 difference?
King: It’s marked down to $2500. How about I bring back the mattress that’s killing my wife’s back and file a claim in small claims court? I haven’t had it for 30 days. There might even be a consumer protection agency protecting people like me from people like you.

Jester: I need to talk to my manager. I need a smoke too. Can you give me 5 minutes?
King: You are excused. Take all the time you need.

I estimate this organization spends $50,000 a year on radio.
It has a memorable jingle that pierces the brain.

When we bought the first time, we had no idea the markups on mattresses.
It was only afterward that I asked the Google.
Our problem wasn’t unique.
There were sales for Black Friday, Boxing Day, New Year’s, Mix and Match. I bet the next one will be Presidents Day.
Advertising sales prices is a sure way to attract transactional customers.

If your product looks like your competitors, and you don’t give them any other reason to buy, the buyer will differentiate you by price.

I walked in as a relational buyer. Their gamma rays turned me into an angry Hulk, wanting “Best Price”.

Sales and Marketing teams don’t naturally speak the same language.
Sales speak units sold, comparable sales, and commissions.
Marketing talks of feelings, connections, and opportunities.

Marketing created a memorable jingle.
Sales wants to move inventory. It creates monsters by offering price matching.

The transactional customer will never be loyal to anything but the best price.
He is a pain in the ass, just like I was with the mattress salesman.
The scene would have been averted if the salesman had treated us like relational buyers.
The company would have made an extra $782.

Alas, they don’t need to worry.
We won’t be back…Unless they are cheapest or we beat them into the cheapest.

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