Retail Sales Tip – Ask the Right Customer Needs Questions

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Ask the RIGHT questions to find out your customers’ needs and you’ll get the answers you are really looking for.

In my last blog post we talked about 7 tips for sales success. Number 3 was Asking the Right Questions: Most salespeople do not ask the right types of questions, even when they prepare questions prior to the sales opportunity, which most don’t. The impact of poor questioning skills is enormous. It leads to resistance in the form of stalls and objections, bad presentations that offer improper solutions, failure to differentiate from the competition – AND missed sales opportunities.

Let’s expand on this… Before we explore the right questions in your store, let’s look at the wrong type of retail sales questions “Can I help you?”, “Have you been helped?”, “Do you need some help?”. Not only are these the wrong questions BUT more importantly they are often asked at the most inappropriate time; during the Greeting.

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Questioning your customer about their wants and needs before you have moved through the greeting and social chit-chat phases will get you nowhere. We need to slow our process down, talk to the customer, and make them feel welcome & comfortable before we move into “needs analysis”.

So, what’s a great question to get customers talking about themselves and their needs & wants? Think about your store and your merchandise, a furniture store will want to talk about rooms and homes – “What brings you in today?”; “What’s your mission today?”; “Are you moving or renovating?”. A gift store may ask, “Are you shopping for yourself or someone special?”. This is the power of “YOU” – Customers love to talk about themselves and their “projects” Asking questions like this will show you care and help them to see you as a person rather than a sales person.

When you focus your questions on your customers’ needs rather than yours you will rarely fail.

Next month we’ll break down the ideal Customer Driven Selling System: Greet & Engage, Understand Customer Needs, Presenting Total Solutions, Handling Objections, Closing & Following Up.

In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact our Sales and Training Support Team to help you get started!


Dan Holman is a certified Winning@Retail™ consultant with twenty-plus years of success in diverse business development, new ventures, business expansion and strategic sales planning.

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