My Internship Experience, 17 Years Later

Hi! My name is Brent Batterman, Director of Vendor and Product Integration. I’ve been with the company for over 17 years and I started exactly where you are right now, as a Mattress Firm intern!

As I sit here thinking about my internship at Mattress Firm…

…the words that automatically come to mind are thankful, happy, and fortunate. Who would’ve ever thought that I would be saying those words about a summer internship selling mattresses?  I know I didn’t! However, those are the words that best describe my experience of how I feel when asked about my experience.

Why, might one ask?

Some of the reasons are the skill sets I learned that summer of my internship at Mattress Firm.  Skill sets I now consider to be priceless to this day — Customer Service and Salesmanship.  The Mattress Firm approach is all about taking care of the guest(s) and making a friend before trying to sell/show them a product… a guest-centric approach to finding out what the guest needs are and then showing them the product that will help them solve their problems.  Before my internship, I didn’t have any retail experience nor any job that required “sales” as a skill set.  However, the art of sales opened the door to something I was not only passionate about, but something I tried to learn as much as I could about.  I love it, and the more I became familiar with the steps to the buying process and asking many questions to the guest about their current mattress, the more I was able to help them shop for a new mattress. I was doing just as I was taught: making a friend before trying to make a sale. To be clear, I believe sales is about effective communication, asking open-ended questions, and based on their answers, offering them a solution.

I even found myself reading all the books I could about the subject, and encourage you to do the same.  A few titles that stand out to me are “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” “The One Minute Manager,” and “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”  I wanted to be the best I could be, and I was having so much fun doing it. The quote, “find a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life” fit me so well. I was in my groove!

My advice?

The best advice I could ever give anyone that is doing a summer internship with Mattress Firm is to take full advantage of the opportunity; you never know where it will take you.  My internship taught me valuable skill sets in retail (sales and customer service); years later I was taught how to manage a business; after that, I was able to travel the country to several Mattress Firm markets meeting tons of amazing people in workshops.  I also lived on a tour bus for 3-5 weeks a year, presenting at nationwide market meetings.  The bus tour was such a rare event, and probably the closest I will be ever get to becoming a Rock Star!  It also gave me a glimpse into something I never thought I would love, public speaking.  Today, Mattress Firm allows me to mentor several sales leaders throughout the organization.

I encourage you to jump in with both feet and try to learn as much as possible.  The skills that are taught this summer will never become outdated or go unused.  After 17 years, I am yet to meet someone that was committed to being the best they could be at Mattress Firm that did not find it super beneficial regardless of where they are today. Whatever the profession a person chooses beyond the internship,  you can bet money that having an understanding of sales and customer service will always be needed.

To close out with the same way I started, I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to work at Mattress Firm.  I have met so many amazing individuals throughout my career here. Several of them have left such a positive impression on my life, both personally and professionally.  I don’t know where I would be without their guidance, support, and mentorship. And it all started with an internship at Mattress Firm.

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