How many retailers have heard this old stand-by phrase in their stores and on show room floors? How is it that we allow our sales staff to ask such generic questions that will ultimately lead us to this flat, lifeless and profitless response?
5 Worst Openers:
1. May I help you? Can I help you?
2. Are you looking for anything in particular?
3. Do you know we have a sale on right now?
4. Do you have any questions?
5. These just came in, aren't they great?
Why are these lame questions so unproductive? Because they are closed endings, they leave little to no wiggle room to engage the customer in an educational or probing dialogue. Every customer that walks through the door is a potential sale for your business, regardless of how they ended up there. They may be killing time while hubby is next door looking at golf clubs, or ducking in to get out of the rain. Either way, They are in YOUR store. They already have a subconscious desire to own what you are selling!
Where to start?
Brainstorm a list of at least 50 questions and phrases that you can imagine asking or stating to a customer to break the ice. Step out on a limb and have some fun. Make a point of noticing details about your customer. Is she carrying a purse that you sell in your store, or perhaps you have been drooling over at the local Coach store? Comment on it. Are they pushing a stroller you have never seen before? Ask her how she likes it? What's it's best feature?
Think beyond the sale and work on starting small talk. Imagine yourself at a dinner party and you are trying to engage a stranger in conversation; it's no different!
10 Sample Opening Sentences:
1. Those grocery bags look heavy, would you like me to put them behind the counter while you walk our store? (Offer to carry them out to the car afterwards of course)
2. I noticed your toddler has her ears pierced. Where did you have them done? My daughter really wants hers done but we are a little nervous.
3. Did you get a chance to enjoy the long weekend? Did you do anything exciting?
4. Lottery is at $50 million this week, did you buy your ticket? We have a group pool going!
5. Are you shopping for yourself today or for somebody else?
6. You've got your arms full, would you like to use our complimentary stroller while you visit our store?
7. Your son looks like he may need to use our bathroom, can I show you where it is?
8. I see you have a Chapters bag, do they have any good sales on right now?
9. We are doing some instore category changes; can I ask your opinion on what your favorite body wash/baby carrier/toy brand etc.. is? (Only ask for one product reference)
10. We just stocked our kid's play area with new coloring books and crayons; would your kids like to break them in?
These are just some ideas on how to get sales staff to break out of the robot routine of asking the same generic questions. Any top sales person will tell you that they succeed best when they can get a customer engaged and talking, even if at first,it is not even about the products or services you sell!
So now you have broken the ice, now how do you move into the sales portion of your conversation? The first rule is try and develop a person-to-person relationship as opposed to a customer-to-salesperson one. This is done by being genuine in probing the customer to determine their needs and responding accordingly. If they have clarified they are shopping for a budget conscious toaster oven, don't show them your top of the line, most expensive model.
Asking the right questions such as:
By taking the time to pay attention to the details, you can win your customer's confidence and ultimately increase your chances of a win-win situation for both of you. The best suggestion in a sales environment is to spend more time listening and less time talking. When your customer is talking; they are interested in buying.
Leah Chevallier, serial entrepreneur in the Juvenile Industry sharing insight, success and 18 years of award winning retail experience! Took $2000 Micro-credit loan and turned it into $30 million!