“May I help you?”. It’s usually one of the first greetings that sales people working retail say to prospects but consumers hate it. The usual response from prospects when asked “can I help you?” is “no thanks, just looking”. Why? Because asking “can I help you?” usually puts consumers on the defensive and makes them uncomfortable.
If you invited someone into your house would you say “can I help you?”. Of course not, so then why do retail salespeople ask that question? Because they haven’t been trained and because their employers have not invested time into how to build a relationship with a prospect.
The best way to approach a prospect who comes into your store is to get to know them first. When I worked at a retail bike store I would approach people and open with “what a great day for a bike ride ha?”. Or I would talk about a bike they may be looking at. It leads to a better conversation because you are approaching a prospect as a friend not “someone to be sold”.
What does this have to do with marketing? Everything if your product needs to be “sold”. Bike manufacturers reps would often come in and school us on features, but they never taught us how to sell features as in benefits. Brands also can’t expect retailers to teach people how to sell when they pay them minimum wage. It is therefore essential that some products have POP displays that clearly help sell the product. I can’t tell you how many displays are often trashed as retail from repeated use, which is a huge waste of money.
Now there is a lot of hype about consumers using their smartphones to shop while at retail, but what’s missing is that they are using their phones to shop, as in find a lower price, not product features. Trying to read about product features on different bikes, for example, is an exercise in frustration on a cell phone.
Brand salespeople have to teach people to “sell” rather than teach them only about product features. In case you haven’t noticed, good retail salespeople who care are very hard to find.