I'm often asked how to turn customers who are "just looking" into buyers. I wish there was a single magic answer to the question, but then again I wish I were 20 years younger and 20 pounds lighter. Go ahead and hit reply now with your comment. You know who you are! But I digress.
Although you can't turn all lookers into buyers, converting only a few of them can have a substantial impact on your sales results. Here are four things you can do to turn "just looking" into "just buying" customers:
1. Greet or engage customers outside the decompression zone. The decompression zone is the area a customer enters immediately after walking into your store. The size of the zone depends on the store's overall size and layout. For some retailers, the decompression zone might be three feet deep while in other stores it could be ten or fifteen feet.
Whatever its size, avoid engaging customers here. Customers need this time and space to acclimate themselves to their new surroundings. Most "just looking" happens here because the customer wasn't given the space he/she needed to decompress and take in what the store has to offer.
2. Don't just greet your customers, sincerely welcome them. Welcome means, "to offer a kindly greeting or reception - as to one whose arrival gives pleasure." Compare "Hello." to "Hello and welcome to XYZ. Thanks for shopping with us today." I especially like this line as it somewhat assumes the customer is in the store to make a purchase.
Being authentic and sincere, but not over the top, is key. Customers are quick to say "just looking" if he/she feels the salesperson is fake or uninterested. Be yourself and as long as you're truly happy to see your customer, you'll connect. If you're not happy to see customers then maybe it's time to change careers.
3. Avoid using those tired generic questions customers are programmed to answer with "just looking." As simple as this sounds, we're just as programmed as our customers are. So skip using:
* How are you today?
* Can I help you?
* What brings you in today?
* Can I answer any questions?
If the customer is obviously receptive to your warm welcome you can them engage him in conversation about his day, what he's doing, something he's wearing, etc. Once you've established that connection you're far beyond "just looking."
But if your customer seems a bit standoffish, she needs some space. Take a brief moment to tell her about an event, sale, or other activity and then invite her to explore the store. Add that you'd love to assist her when she's ready. Notice the word "when," not "if."
The key point here is we're making the decision based upon the customer's receptiveness. Too often we try to engage customers in conversations when they're just not ready, and that results in "just looking."
4. Give the customer some time, and then reengage in a way that adds value. Again, we're not using the tired lines that are sure to be answered with "just looking." Offer a bottle of water, or tell her something about a product she wouldn't know without your help. "Those particular scarves are made by a local artist." or "That paint has 35% more coverage than any of the other brands."
You can also ask them a question as it relates to the product. "What type of project are you working on?" or "Have you ever worn a pair of these flats? They're so comfortable." At this point the customer is going to become "just buying" or they're truly "just looking." You tried. Stay available and the customer just might reengage you.
This approach will help you maximize your customer opportunities without being overbearing. Sometimes customers really are just looking, but a whole lot more of them will become buyers if we engage them properly.
So let me ask, are you adding to the "just looking" responses, or are you creating more "just buyers" in your store?
Doug Fleener is a proven retail and customer experience expert that helps companies to improve their on-floor and management performance. Vist our website or call him at 866-535-6331 to discuss improving your company's customer experience and results.