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Shane Decker

Shane Decker: The Big Lie




Customers will always tell you they’re just looking. Don’t fall for it, says Shane Decker.

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The Big Lie

You probably hear it every day — “I’m just looking.” The worst part is, many salespeople actually believe it when customers say it to them. They turn and walk away, allowing the customer to wander aimlessly. Ironically, those customers walk out of your doors without ever really looking at anything, because you never put anything in their hands.

No matter what they say, no one walks through your doors without any interest in buying what you’re selling. No matter what they say, no one walks through your doors without any interest in buying what you’re selling. In fact, we know that 75% of customers buy an item the first day they shop for it. So why do people say they’re “just looking” when they really want to buy?

Simple — it’s a defense mechanism. The biggest complaint from customers in all of retail is that they can’t get waited on, that they can’t find good service. So when you approach them, they say they’re “just looking” because they don’t want to feel rejected. In order to protect themselves, they reject you before you can do it to them.

I bet you’ve even said it yourself to other salespeople while you’re out shopping — heck, everybody says it! But the fact is, “just looking” really means “just buying.” In fact, if we could dive deep into your customer’s subconscious thoughts, we might find her thinking, “I might buy something because I do buy on impulse.”


So how should you respond?

Show them that you’re not going to shove something down their throat. Get something drop-dead gorgeous in their hands. Show them that you really do want to wait on them. Then, lead them to the items that they really want to see.

For example, after your initial greeting, a customer may say they’re “just looking.” That’s when you get something out of the case and respond, “Well, just look at this!”

“No, I’m really here to look at ruby earrings.”
“Okay, they’re right over here. I’ll show you…” And you’re off and running.

You can also break the ice with some quick humor. If the customer says, “I’m in a hurry,” you could respond, “I sell fast!” Or if they’re “just looking,” tell them, with a big grin, “That’s okay … I’m just selling!” Then, as always, get a beautiful piece of jewelry in their hands.

Let’s be clear: this is not about high-pressure sales tactics. What it is about is taking more professional advantage of every selling opportunity we have. Every “just-looker” is an opportunity to get them to slow down and look at something.


In some cases, you may get a “jerk” customer — you know, one that gives you a dirty look when he says he’s “just looking.” Thank him for coming in, offer him a refreshment, and tell him you have many beautiful things in the store to see. If he’s still rude, walk away and T.O. the customer. He may not like you, or maybe he just wanted to bite the first salesperson he saw. Let someone else have a try.

If you give your customer an experience he can’t get anywhere else from the moment he comes in, you win. If he continues to be unhappy, introduce him to the manager or owner. This often makes customers feel better, and like the Wicked Witch of the West, their meanness melts right away.

Service is bad everywhere. If you give your customer an experience he can’t get anywhere else from the moment he comes in, you win.

Customers love attention. They want to be waited on and to feel good in your store. If you walk away from a “just looker,” you’ve killed the sale, and lost a customer. Why do that when you can make them feel amazing?

It’s time for us to stop complaining about the customer who’s “just looking.” It’s time for us to start “just selling.”

Shane Decker has provided sales training for more than 3,000 stores worldwide. Contact him at (317) 535-8676 or at


This story is from the April 2006 edition of INSTORE.


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