Words that kill a conversation quicker than a full stop and a mute button.
Have you ever approached a woman and heard the words “I have a boyfriend”, “I’m not interested”, “I’m on my way to see my uncles aunty in Mexico so i’m in a rush…” even though you were just trying to tell her that her shoelaces are untied?
Have you ever approached a man and heard the words “I know my shoelaces are untied thanks!” even though you were just trying to tell him that you want to take him home with you and eat candy floss off his eyebrows?
Have you ever approached a customer and said “Hey, how are you?” only for them to reply “No thanks – i’m just looking”?
Avoiding this sentence could prove to be the key to a smooth sale. It’s one of the most common things that customers say (but most don’t want to say it). If you put yourself in their situation you will see why. Let’s quickly break down the psychology of the situation:
- You walk into a store with an idea but you’re not really sure what you want yet..
- You’re approached by a Sales [insert any of the above here] who says: “Do you need any help at all?”
- You came to the store alone so the likeliness is that you’re not warmed up for a conversation
- Conventional instincts puts our defences up when we’re approached by a stranger with such a direct question.
- “What’s the most polite thing I can say so that they leave me alone?”
- You’re not sure what u want yet but you may need help at some point so what’s the 1st thing you say?
- “I’m just looking thanks”
This is a typical situation however it is not every situation and it is not what happens every time a Sales [you know the drill] asks a customer if they need help. There are things you can do and questions you can ask to reduce the risk of that dreaded response.
The Best Approach To Take In…
A Small Boutique – small boutiques allow you to be much more relaxed. A great focus is building a relationship with the customer starting with an indirect approach. We can build rapport out of any topic of conversation, before we show off our strong product knowledge in order to build a basket of items that best fit our new friend. Department stores and high street stores also have quiet periods where this approach can be used.
High Street – these crazy places generally have the highest footfall of the 3. High street customers are typically different from department store customers. As high street stores tend to have a lot more choice and square footage, a direct approach is increasingly welcomed as customers are more likely to require assistance given those circumstances. High street retail operates at a faster pace and the customers follow suit. Unfortunately in these high traffic environments assistance is sought a lot more but even harder to acquire.
Department Stores – in this environment it is important to consider what floor you are on. You may have already had a guess as to why (or glanced ahead). In most department stores generally speaking, the beauty department and several ambassadors for relative companies are on the ground floor. Customers are approached from all angles on the ground floor by ambassadors offering their services. Did you ever see that video of the girl walking through town in New York? (Click the picture below) Swap the degrading interactions with a sales pitch and you get the ground floor in Harrods. If you work on the fourth floor in a department store, the chances are a customer has been approached 163743885 times with the question: “Are you okay there?”
“I’m Just Looking” – Final Thoughts
Practice makes perfect. Someone who is starting out in retail should start in high street. That’s my personal opinion and I will soon write a post to elaborate. In short there’s a lot more opportunity to take risks when the footfall is heavy and there are plenty of opportunities each day to rectify the errors of the last.
You can read and, read and, read but ultimately putting what you read into practice is far more beneficial than simply doing the former. Good luck!