3 Ways to Conquer the “Just Looking” Dragon

by : 

Megy Karydes

October 26, 2015
Marketing Mondays - 3 Ways to Conquer the “Just Looking” Dragon

We’re now in our critical fourth quarter, moving from long-term marketing strategies to practical sales techniques to maximize our time on the floor. Today’s Marketing Monday exercise looks at how to engage the customers who are “just looking.”

First of all, maybe some people are just looking, and that’s fine. They’re getting an idea of what to buy as gifts, what you have in store, and what your prices are. They want ideas, and maybe they’re not ready to buy. If this is the case, be polite and available. Make it a point to interact, but also to leave them alone if that’s the vibe you’re getting from them.

The tricky part as a proprietor is to determine the level of “just looking.” Do they really not want to be bothered as they look around, are they stalling so they can see what it is they want to buy, or do they not know and feel like they don’t want to bother you?

Here are 5 questions to ask customers after you’ve given them a minute to warm up in your shop that will help you de-code their level of “just looking”:

1) Ask “What brings you in today?” You may get the “just looking” response, but hopefully the open-ended question will help them answer honestly. You can always respond with, “We’re glad you chose to look here. Are you looking for something for a special occasion or a gift or yourself?” Again, it’s all in the approach. If it appears as if you’re interrogating them, they’ll turn around and leave in a heartbeat, but if they appear to genuinely welcome your help, they’ll respond. Pay attention to body language.

2) Ask if “just looking” is an “I-need-a-get-out-of-jail-card” kind of looking or a “Let’s-celebrate-something-exciting” kind of looking. This needs to come off as genuine, and you need to gauge their attitude through body language. For all you know, they’re looking for a gift to cheer someone up because that person lost a loved one. We don’t know why some people come into our place of business, but they came in for a reason. Whether it’s to kill time or they need to find something, our job is to make our place hospitable and make sure they know we’re available if they need us.

3) Compliment them. Again, this can’t seem fake, so if you don’t feel like complimenting someone, don’t. I love it when I take the time to dress up in something nice and someone notices. If I’m wearing a beautiful, hand-knit scarf or handcrafted earrings and you carry those items, compliment me and tell me how excited you were about a recent shipment of similar items you stock. You’re not selling me at this point; you’re engaging me in conversation. So, even if I was “just looking,” now you’ve intrigued me with something you already know I enjoy wearing.

Asking qualifying questions can help you figure out how to best service customers. While some customers really do treasure retail therapy time, make sure customers know you’re ready to help, especially during this busy holiday season. It will go a long way toward creating a happy and loyal customer.


Megy Karydes is principal of Karydes Consulting, a boutique marketing and communications firm and freelance writer who often covers retail for various magazines. She likes her calendars, whether digital or on paper, and has her editorial calendar pinned to her board in her office to remind her what day it is! Find her on Twitter at @megy.