Retail Sales Tips - 5 Lies Customers Tell And How To Sell Around Them

Bob Phibbs By
Are your customers lying to you?

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Customers lying. It's rarely talked about. Maybe it's because customers often feel retail salespeople can’t be trusted.  But retailers are often faced with selling to customers who tell white lies to avoid purchasing an expensive item.

Here are five of the most common lies I’ve come across and how retail salespeople can handle them so you still have a chance of making the sale:

"We can't afford it."

As retail salespeople, what we hear is, They’ve got no money. The danger of believing this line is that we often project that onto all customers and let that be an excuse. We tell ourselves people just aren't buying. Research shows that’s never true. Even during down times, customers still buy. Your excuse may make you feel better, but it won't get you the sale.

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People who don't have money don't go shopping. Your goal is to help the shopper see that by not purchasing that specific product, they are making their life more difficult, not easier. You have to give them the features and benefits throughout the sale to show them that this product is the best buy for them right now. Another way to still get the sale is to sell down from the more expensive option you’ve shown them. Show them a product that is similar and cheaper but that they will be giving up one or two features they said were important to them.

"Just looking"

We hear this in response to our greeting and think, They don’t need my helpThe danger of believing this is that you passively wait for customers to say, "I'll take it."And, as a business owner, when you believe that they actually don't need your help is settling for breadcrumbs when you could have a feast. 

Instead, when a customer says, “I’m just looking,” to you, simply answer, “That’s great, we have lots to look at including our newest product we just got in over here” and then leave them. Once you see them pick something up, you can wait a bit, return, and try to build rapport. Bombarding them with items without having first built rapport could make them angry enough to walk out.

As long as you see “just looking” as a stepping stone instead of a cliff, you can make the sale.

"We'll look around"

We hear, often at the close of a retail sale, This product isn’t what we want. What they are really saying with such a general statement is We want to get away from you, and We don’t want to hurt your feelings. Instead of trying to show them more products or ask them more questions, turn over the sale to another sales associate. Sometimes personalities just aren’t a fit and acknowledging that happens before they walk out the door can boost your conversion rates substantially.

"I have to ask my husband"

This can happen anywhere but usually at the close of the sale and we think They aren't the decision maker. What they are really saying is they still don't trust you as a sales person. You probably haven’t built rapport before you began pitching your products. Once you hear that, though, repeat back to them in a kindly manner what they said they were looking for. Then give them three benefits of your product and shut up.

If they really do have to ask their husband or wife or partner, you’ve armed them with a bullet-list of reasons why purchasing this product is a smart decision. Just as often though, they will hear your reasons and go ahead and purchase it right then – provided you built enough rapport for them to trust you.

"It's too expensive."

We hear, You're over-priced. The danger is you start to believe them and then try to find a way to lower your price. Once that happens, you have become more of a commodity. Price doesn’t make something a good value, people do.

What the customer is really saying is it's too expensive for the amount of benefit I think I'll get out of it. If this is your customer, they need to hear that this product will make something in their life easier, more comfortable, or more special. You work around these items every day, and you know why they cost more. Your customers don’t, so make sure you take the time to educate them so they can treat themselves to what they deserve.

See also, 9 Ways To Get Better At Selling

Wrap Up

Have you had those days when you could sell anything to anyone? And days when you couldn’t sell anything to anyone? We all have.

One of the big lies we tell ourselves as retail sales people is that when sales slump it’s all the customers’ fault.

More often than not, it’s the attitude and energy we bring to the selling situation. If things aren’t going well for you – by all means take a break from the sales floor. Shoot some imaginary hoops in the stockroom, go for a walk to clear your head, look at pictures of something you’re particularly proud of – your kids, your house or a great vacation, or listen to a motivational recording.

Can you make every sale in retail? Of course not.

Retail selling is just a game. But you can increase your odds by not taking your customers’ excuses to heart.

You are paid to find a way to get the sale by providing a solution that is ethical and a win-win for everyone involved. 

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