Why is it that when you walk into a shop, and the sales assistant asks ‘can I help you’, the first thing you say is, ‘No thanks. I’m just looking’.
In this Vlog, Grant Leboff explains why you respond in that way and how that lesson can help you when selling in business.
Why is it when you walk into a shop, and the sales assistant comes up to you and says, can I help you, sir? Can I help you madam? The first thing you say is, ‘No thanks. I’m just looking’.
Imagine this scenario. You walk into the store and the sales assistant comes up to you and says this, ‘I’m really sorry to disturb you. I don’t care if you buy anything today or not, but my sales manager’s over there and she’s watching me like a hawk. Please can I just walk around the store with you for five minutes?’ What do you think you’d say?
The chances are most of us would say ‘yes’ to that request, but there’s a key phrase in that whole statement and it was this; ‘I don’t care if you buy anything today or not’. The reason why we say ‘no thanks, I’m just looking’ to someone is because we’re scared of losing control.
Now, of course it’s a false fear because the reality is if you walk into a retail shop that you know and love, you’re not going to be forced to buy something you didn’t want to buy. In fact, most of those sales assistants are paid by the hour, they’re not on commission or anything like that at all, so they’ve got no vested interest in trying to sell you things you don’t want. And yet it’s that feeling of losing control, which means we just want to get rid of them.
Once they say to you, ‘I don’t care if you buy anything today or not’ what they’ve basically said is; you decide, you’re in control and, therefore, you’re relaxed and you don’t mind them walking around with you.
Now, this is exactly what happens in sales meetings.
Often people go into a meeting and their customers don’t feel fully in control of the situation and that makes them feel uncomfortable. But when someone’s uncomfortable, they won’t open up. They won’t have a good discussion with you and after all, in a meeting, you just wants to have a good conversation.
The reality is, the customer is in control. After all, it will be them who decides whether they purchase from you or not, but if they don’t feel in control, it can really stall the success of the meeting.
And so what you need to do is give them that feeling of control back. The irony is you’re giving them something that actually you already have, but if they don’t feel that they have that control, it will scupper things.
So how do you do it? Well, I don’t want to be prescriptive, but I’ll give you some examples, saying something like this to a customer; ‘Look, I don’t know if this is relevant for you, but…’ because the implication of that is this; if I’m not sure it’s relevant for you and there’s only two of us in the room, than you need to decide and, therefore, what you’re inadvertently doing is giving them control.
You could say, ‘I don’t know if this is right for you, but…’ ‘I’m not sure if this could work, but… ‘ With any of those kinds of statements, the implication is it’s going to be up to you. Of course it’s up to them anyway, but by kind of stating it in a subtle way, you’re giving them that feeling of control back and, therefore, your business meetings are much more likely to be successful.