Selling in a retail environment requires more than the cliché “Can I help you find something?” sales lingo. Open-ended questions not only help to identify areas of opportunity but also work well to invite the customer to engage. Get your customer to say more than “yes” or “no” to make the most of your retail sales potential.

What Are You Looking for Today?

A question that inquires about the specific reason your customer visited your store is a good way to narrow down choices in hopes to close a sale. When the customer engages in the question and responds about the item he is shopping for, you can practice solid customer service skills by showing him the item while educating him on features and benefits as well as any product alternatives or add-ons he may be interested in.

How Did You Hear About This Product?

A question that engages the customer not only invites dialogue but also opens up conversation about other sales opportunities. If the customer responds to your question by saying, “My friend mentioned it was a good way to get better picture quality on my TV,” you are presented an opportunity to upsell or add on to the customer’s purchase. If your recommendation warrants it, educate the customer about another product that could better fit her needs, or sell additional items that could further improve or resolve her problem.

Do You Prefer the "A" Product or a "B" Item?

Starting a dialogue about a customer’s preference by comparing two products is a good way to find out about her inclinations, price points and willingness to purchase a product that day. If the customer responds to your question by telling you, “I’m not sure,” you have an opportunity to educate and narrow down the purchasing decision. If she responds with a derivative of “I’m just looking,” you can still offer an educated reply that pertains to the two products in a second attempt for dialogue.

I Have One at Home, and It’s Fantastic

Starting off the conversation by endorsement as opposed to a question is a refreshing change of pace on the retail sales floor. Salespeople who engage in conversation right off the bat are difficult to ignore. If the comment is genuine, you can let your customer know about your personal experience with a certain product. If you haven’t tried it but understand its popularity among other customers, you can approach the conversation that way instead. It’s never a good idea to be insincere on the sales floor. If you haven’t tried it, don’t say you did in hopes to make the sale. Good conversation starters as alternatives to personal experiences include “This brand is so popular right now,” “I really like the safety features of this bike,” and “We just got that in yesterday.”