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Just Looking? OK….So Now What?

Updated on May 2, 2012

Just Looking. OK....Now What

Although it is very easy to get a commission sales job in the U.S., and it is a commonly understood fact that most six figure income earners have sales based incomes, many times the average salesperson can’t get by the “just looking” line and eventually fall by the wayside, never actually coming close to their full earning potential.

How many times have you seen the new salesperson walk over to the customer and ask “can I help you?” only to be rebuffed by the guest (yes, I said guest; more on that in another article) with a casual “Just browsing,” or any assortment of clichés meant to make the sales person go way. Then after lingering for, oh say 5 – 10 seconds, if the customer does not immediately ask to buy something, the salesperson slinks to the sales counter, announces the customer as a dead up, and puts their name at the bottom or the up list.

But wait! In rolls the veteran salesperson. They go to the same customer, say a few magic words, and walk the customer to the counter with a written order in their hand. How can this be? You say it must’ve been luck. Well to quote Mike McDermott from Rounders: “Why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker EVERY SINGLE YEAR? What are they, the luckiest guys in Las Vegas? It's a skill game.”

I’ll ask you the same question: If its luck, why do the same five guys (or ladies) drive the good cars, take the good vacations, and sit at the top of the leader boards every week, month and year? I’ll tell you why. They out work you - plain and simple. They know their product better than you do. They know their competition better than you do. They are at work earlier than you. They are there later than you. They are not out back smoking. They’re slamming a Slimfast for lunch while your sitting a the break table sharing pizza with the guys!

While you’re smoking they are waiting for your customer to come in so they can jump them because you weren’t on the floor (Now you might cry that’s not fair - So do something about it). And most of all they take pride in taking the sale from you. Deep inside they love that you just called a customer dead and they wrote them – and got the warranty! They love that they are number one and you aren’t’ even in the game.

So what are you going to do about it? Well first of all, if you want run with the big cats grow some claws. Now I don’t mean get underhanded and dirty, I mean start going to work. Stay out of the break room and when you have some down time, break out the product manuals and learn something about your product. Then learn more about the competitor’s product than their own people know it. Know what they charge for delivery, setup, and return policy. Be able to quote the back of their sales receipt verbatim. Go on scouting trips. Take their cars for a test drive, listen to them try to sell you roofing, or a TV, or Boots, or whatever. I think you get the picture. But this also is food for another article.

But first you have to get by “just looking.” It’s really not that hard, but it does take effort. I have seen promising sales people who knew the product perfectly just hang around the sales floor for years, living paycheck to paycheck - Never driving the good cars, eating Sam’s Club bulk hotdogs and wondering why they never get the “good ups”. They never learned to get past first base consistently because they never made an honest decision to make the effort!

I am going to teach you 22 words you absolutely have to learn if you want to turn most of these just looking into product demonstrations. Here they come:

Do you want me to help you look for something in particular, or do you want to just look on your own?”

OK – now stop and read it again. And again. Memorize it before you go any further.

Got it? Now here is how you use it: When a guest (there’s that word again) comes into your store look them in the eye, smile sincerely, and say “HI, Welcome to Fred’s Fancy Cuts of Beef” (Use your own store name). Then wait. Here it comes.

Do not, and I will repeat this, do not ask them if you can help them. Why? Because, everybody over the age of six in America knows what they have to say next. It’s in their DNA to say “just looking”, or “just browsing”, or “just nosing around”. Or maybe you get the occasional runner who sprints by you as if you had the power to pick their pocket yelling over their shoulder to you ”I’ll come get you if I need you.”

But guess what? They’re not saying don’t help me. What they are actually saying is, “give me a minute – I just got in here, I might spend some money that I worked my tail off to get, I have no idea what I need, I don’t know dilly about this stuff, I am in your house, and I need a minute to get acclimated and settle down."

Now, if a customer actually came out and said those words to you would you treat them any differently? I’ll bet so. In fact, I know so. You would probably give them some time to browse and then re-approach them in a completely different manner. And you know what? That would probably turn two or three of them around. But you want to run with the big dogs, so you need to turn more than two or three. You need to control the sale and the sales process. Your closing percentage needs to be 80 to 90 percent.

And here’s how you do it. Never use the words “Can I help you?” After you greet the customer near your door with a smile and a “Hi”, just wait. After they say “Just looking,” or whatever, repeat the magic 22. What does that do? Well, several things. First, it sets you apart because you didn’t say “Can I help you?” Second it allows the customer to think for a moment about why they came in - and a lot of times they will say “yeah I’m looking for a….” And third of all, and most importantly, it gives the customer a sense of control they do not feel they have when they are in an uncomfortable situation.

Now notice I said Sense of Control, because if you have any idea what you are doing you can lead them from there. Now is the time to just start qualifying. But suppose they say “no – I’ll look on my own.” That’s Ok too. Just smile and say “Ok great, my name is John (I hope you don’t actually say John…unless of course your name is John then it is OK), I’ll check back with you in a few minutes. If you have any questions feel free to ask me.”

Now don’t go to the break room or hang out at the counter. Grab a towel and clean something near them. Or work on a display. Why? Because, it’s a known fact that customers love to pull people away from work. They want help from the guy or girl who looks like they care. They probably will approach you.

If not, when you see them land for a minute, go over to them and just say something simple like “See anything that catches your eye?” You don’t have to use my words. Use your own. Be yourself. And most of all – Be sincere. Look them in the eye and try to help them, because now you’re halfway there. Then just start qualifying.

Here’s a quick side note: It would be impossible for me to hit every scenario, so I won’t even try. But after you greet the customer initially, many times you will have to prompt them into saying “just looking,” so you can use your magic 22 on them. If they just stare at you, or say “Hi” back, a simple “what brings you in today?” will do the trick. They will either tell you, which is great, or say what we want to hear.

Common Sales Mistakes made by Rookies and Veterans

1. Don’t wait till the customer settles in the store. Greet them at the door within three seconds of arrival.

2. Don’t hang out at the sales desk while they are getting comfortable. The customer is juice until they walk out the door.

3. Don’t give up. Out work the competition.

4. Understand that it is a numbers game. The more you work at it, the more customers you talk to the more money you make.

5. Ask for the sale. So many times I have seen sales people give a great presentation then just say good-bye.


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    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 

      6 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      The key C P Fitzgregor is in the approach. Most sales people walk straight up to the customer and ask them if they would like some help. Customers are trained to say 'no thanks, I'm just looking' and continue browsing - we all do it. Salespeople need to acknowledge a customer, give them some space and when they approach to make some non-business related comment. This 'hang out' time enables you to get the customer's trust, shows that you are interested and you then get some intelligence to use later when you close.

      I use the Friedman system, but it is really just a values based system that gets you talking to a customer and making sales. I've writter a couple of hubs on this myself. Cheers Michael


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