Natural-Born Sales Killers

March 1999

For Your Staff:Basic Selling Skills

Natural-Born Sales Killers

The "walk-away" is a sales crime that can be prevented


Every time you walk a customer or let him or her leave without a presentation, you lose a potential sale and the chance to become that customer's personal sales ally. The "walk-away" – when a sales associate walks away from a customer, stranding the hapless victim – is one of the biggest sales killers in the retail jewelry industry.

The biggest offenses occur when a customer says "I'm just looking." Three things you should never say:

  • "If you can't find what you want, let me know."
  • "If you find something you cannot live without, come get me."
  • "Go ahead and shop around and if you can't find what you want, come back."

Each response gives customers permission to leave without seeing any jewelry or getting a full presentation. In each case, customers are justified in assuming you couldn't be bothered to wait on them or they don't look worthy of attention. How do you feel when a sales associate won't acknowledge your presence or simply walks away from you? Will you go back there to buy? It's unlikely.

The best response to "Just looking" is to ask questions and listen to what the customer says. You can ask several questions with energy and a friendly disposition:

  • "Are you looking for a special occasion?"
  • "Is this for you wife, girlfriend, husband ...?"
  • "What do you have in mind?"
  • "When do you plan to present it?"

Earnestly listen to the answers. Get the customer talking about himself or herself. This shows you care, leads to more questions/answers and is an easy lead-in to your sales presentation.

On the other hand, if you walk away from a customer, your chance of closing the sale can decrease by as much as 50%.

Other Walk-Away Offenses
When you're in the middle of a diamond presentation and lack some of your tools – such as tweezers, loupe, pen, velvet or diamond chart – and you have to go to another part of the store to get them, you look disorganized (first impressions say a lot about your professional abilities). When you walk away it breaks the concentration of the customers. Depending how long you're gone, you may have to start over. Always keep all your "tools of the trade" at your fingertips. Here are some other walk-away offenses to avoid:

  • Accepting phone calls while you're with a customer.
  • Allowing a coworker to interrupt.
  • Lacking teamwork (i.e., letting your customer stand alone while you clean her jewelry instead of asking a coworker to help).
  • Leaving the customer while you go somewhere to get product information you should have known in the first place.
  • Taking too long to retrieve information from a computer while the customer waits unattended.

Don't give customers any reason to think you are unprofessional, disorganized or lacking in self-confidence because you leave them. Remember that as soon as you walk away, you encourage them to do the same thing. Right out the door.

Shane Decker is an international sales trainer and consultant. He offers training on many levels for every size of company. Contact him at (317) 422-8872.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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