Can I help you? Why retail customers always say no
These are the four worst words anyone can utter to a customer in retail. We all know they answer it gets 99% of the time – because we all give it.
“No thanks – just looking”
These 4 words are revenue stoppers, barrier creators, and empathy evaporators. It just says to the potential customer – I’m too bored and uninterested to even use a sentence that isn’t expected, practiced or considerate of the fact that you are the person who pays my wage. But rather than simply pointing out that it doesn’t work, let’s discuss a couple of simple and effective alternatives. And I’ll do this by giving you an example and a retail sales person who gets it.
I was recently shopping for some new jeans in a Myer store in Melbourne. When the sales guy approached me he asked me a simple question:
“Are you after pants or tops today?”
A very smart move. Either answer starts a conversation we he can ‘be help’ instead of simply asking if I need it. If I answer ‘pants’ – we can start narrowing down the selection. Same if I answer ‘tops’. Or he might even get lucky and I say ‘both’. If I say ‘neither’ I just look like a fool, and we can both wonder why the hell I walked into the store in the first place. Needless to say, I told him and he helped me find a nice pair of jeans.
The trick is simple:
First – never ask an open ended question. They don’t solve problems or lead to results.
Second – ask two pronged choice questions for which both answers are good for the sales person.
Third – don’t feel guilty or pushy doing it. People wouldn’t (especially men) enter a store just for the sake of it, they want help.
So next time you go into a store with sales assistants, pay attention to the language they use and you’ll start to notice those who get it and those who don’t. This example might also serve as a good question or test when recruiting business development staff for your startup.