BUSINESS BULLET: Are you asking the right questions?

At this time of year, many retailers miss out on obvious ways to increase sales, says serial entrepreneur Colin Turner.

by Colin Turner
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Christmas is coming. If you're a retailer, your goose should be getting fat. If not, this week's 'Business Bullet' may help.
 
Let's play a little game. Think about what happens when you enter a shop. Chances are that the assistant will come over and say something like: 'Can I help you?', right?
 
Your usual reply? 'Just looking, thank you.'
 
That's most people's default response. It cuts off further dialogue and the assistant leave you alone. Is this happening in your store?
 
Here's an alternative idea. Try welcoming a customer instead with: 'Have you been here before?'

To borrow a line from the dating world, this is a way of opening up the channels of communication. It is guaranteed to elicit a reply other than simply, 'I'm just browsing.' Instead, you'll get a 'yes' or 'no'.
 
Dialogue can then continue with either:

1. 'No? Then you be will interested to know that we have a very special offer to welcome first-time customers.'

OR

2. 'Yes? Then you will be interested to know that we have a very special offer for returning customers.'

Clearly, there must be genuine offers in place. But that is not hard to do.

Most of us browse, undecided. We don't want: 'Can I help you?' That means: 'Can I sell you something.'

Customers like to buy. They don't like to be sold.

They like to be valued through dialogue.

We all like that.

Colin Turner was born and raised in a caravan. Today he is the author of more than 18 fiction and non-fiction books, published in 75 countries and 39 languages and is the go-to man as business advisor to organisations such as Microsoft, IBM, Pfizer, Claridges, BT, RBS and the Chinese Embassy.

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