Help convert browsers to buyers with one word change

I’ll often walk into stores where I am greeted warmly by staff on the sales floor and offered assistance, yet when I say I’m happy just looking, the conversation ends. Great service to start with, but when presented with the problem that I’m ‘just browsing’ they have nothing to follow up. A browsing shopper is always a potential customer and not someone to be overlooked. Here’s how to improve your chances of converting them into a buyer.

The approach.

Get a conversation going and build a connection

When customers walk into stores or onto a sales floor, they’re almost always ready with their guard up against commission hungry salespeople, lurking for the next customer. Have a different approach to all the others and you’re sure to stand out. You want to be remembered, and standing out is the easiest way to do that. My favourite is to be busy doing something. Holding a clipboard or something else that makes you appear to be doing something is great, you just happen to walk past and stop to see if they need assistance. You genuinely want to help them. Not just jumping on them instantly in sales mode. Be casual, be friendly. This works, and well. Why? You’re still approaching and greeting the customer as they enter the store, as you should, but you’re not eagerly running up waiting for your next sale. A more casual approach is friendlier and less intimidating.


So you’ve had a casual greeting. Great, now obviously, you need to offer assistance.


Even slight changes in words can make the customer more comfortable;


“Can I help you with anything today?” is great, and surprisingly, works better than the same question posed another way; “What can I help you with today?”

The what can throw people off, suddenly, they have to think of something that you can help them with, it puts them on the spot and they have to think on their feet. And, strangely, it becomes more uncomfortable for them to say “Nothing” than it would be to say, “No thanks” to the first question.

So here’s why the first question works; it is a simple yes/no response. The people who are after something specific still have the opportunity to ask for help with it, whereas the ‘browsers’ are given an easy way out – the question is easy to answer with a no.


Why would you want someone to say no?!


Obviously, you don’t. But. You will get people browsing. It happens regularly, in almost every industry. From retail show rooms to display homes. If a customer is under no pressure from the start, even if they’re just browsing, they will stay in there longer.


The longer someone browses, the higher chance they’ll become a customer.


So you’ve nailed the approach. Here’s something often overlooked; that person browsing? They’re human too. There is absolutely nothing wrong with continuing a conversation. By this stage hopefully you should be able to read body language a little bit, so you can generally tell if someone wants to be left alone. But just because someone is browsing doesn’t mean you have to ignore them. This happens all the time when I walk into stores, once the salesperson finds out I’m just browsing, they ignore me until I leave. Which is crazy. It’s just uncomfortable in a small store. If the store is quiet, you can busy yourself with tasks (folding clothes, changing price tickets, etc) but chat with the customer too, build a rapport (more on this soon in our upcoming sales toolkit series). If you can get a good conversation going, the customer will relax and become more comfortable around you. They will start to trust you, and customers are more comfortable buying off someone they trust. At the very least, if you build rapport and a good connection, if they find nothing to buy that day, chances are when they do need something you sell, they’ll remember you and go to your store before a competitors.

They’re only human. Make a connection and you will stand out from all the other stores they enter that day.

And remember, that conversation has the potential for uncovering a lead for a problem the customer has, where it would be very helpful of you to point out how you can solve it with one of your products.

That’s helpful, not pushy.


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