I used to work at Foot Locker – it was my first job out of college. Since I was the assistant manager, on many weekday mornings I found myself alone in the store for most of the day. One day I had a customer come in and I greeted him, and asked him if I could help him.
He used the same response we all use when we don’t want to be bothered: I’m just looking. I accepted his answer and left him alone.
A minute later that customer revealed himself as Corey, the Foot Locker District manager. And he taught me a few new things about selling.
The first one was to never ask that closed question can I help you. It almost never works — since someone who was gonna buy anyway doesn’t care what your greeting was — and it leaves you nowhere to go next. Asking an open-ended, or assumptive, question works a lot better. Something like, what are you looking for? Or, are you looking for something to match that hat? At least gets the customer to respond and break the pattern of I’m just looking.
Every person who walks into your store (I’m speaking figuratively here; you don’t need to be in retail to use this) is of course looking. Looking for someone to help them make a buying decision! That’s your job when you’re in sales — and we are all in sales.
Corey didn’t teach me much of anything else, but here are a few more I learned from guys like Zig Ziglar and Napoleon Hill:
People love to talk about themselves. Ask questions that allow them to do so.
The way a person dresses is an expression of themselves. Notice and comment on it — they will be proud of your noticing, and this opens them up to your influence.
Everyone is just looking — until they buy. Make them feel like they already own it and let them experience, mentally, how it feels to have what you’re selling so they tell themselves they need it.
Sales is simply a transfer of feeling, of emotion. When you feel that your offer is great, transfer that feeling to her. She will buy.
Work on yourself more than you work on the prospect.