How a simple approach can get you that sale

By John Blake

The response is always the same. I ask the question at a retail sales seminar and regardless of the number of people in the room, I always get the same answer.

It goes something like this…

First question – “Please raise your hand if you have ever been approached in a retail store and responded with “I’m just looking?”. Naturally 100% of the hands in the room go up.

Next question – “Now, please leave your had up if, on that day, you were actually looking for something to buy”?” On average around 80 – 90% of the hands stay up.

Which is fascinating when you consider that based on the research of Paco Underhill in his book Why We Buy, his countless hours of research tell us that 82% of lost sales are lost in the approach.

So how do we deal with that? How do we break the insidious pattern that causes people who actually want to buy something to reflexively respond with “I’m just looking”?

Well there are a number of schools of thought on this and believe me, I have tested ALL of them. But none that I have tested work better than this:

Simply respond with, “Great. Feel free to have a look around, take your time we have more of (insert the product category they are looking at) over there. I’ll leave you to browse and I’ll come back and see how you’re going in a few minutes, ok?”

You see when we do this, we break the pattern – we give the client exactly what they want. After all, they did say they wanted to look, PLUS we get permission to come back.

Which, if we look at the normal response, “Ok I’ll leave you to browse” doesn’t give us that option and creates a totally different agreement between sales person and shopper.

And when you consider that 95% of staff on average do not re-approach the customer when told “I’m just looking” you start to get a handle on the magnitude of the problem.

Quite frankly, this is one of, if not the, most valuable things that I teach in my retail sales training system.

The ability to approach and re-approach someone in your store in the most pro-active no pressure way possible.”

Naturally, there are other nuances and things to consider but I can guarantee you this – if you and your team just do this with your approach, you will increase your store traffic/sales conversion rates.

Good luck with it and keep your eye out for the launch of the SBIA Online Surf Retail Sales Training System which will feature this, as well as a stack more strategies, techniques and an overall retail sales training framework for maximising retail sales in your store.  We will be presenting a session on the training system at the next SBIA Roundtable at Coogee on May 26.


*John Blake has been in direct sales for 22 years and has had a long involvement in sales and marketing within the surf industry. His company offers direct sales breakthrough solutions, including training for on-floor retail staff.