Thursday, August 6, 2009

Saying No to “Can I Help You?”

First a quick piece of good news before I start. My son Connor is a year old today. Connor is my first baby and this past year has definitely been a learning experience. Anywho, just wanted to share that brightness today :)

Ok Monday we talked about Saying No to Thank You. Today I want to look at how saying “Can I help you?” may harm your sales.

When a customer first walks into your booth, what is the first thing you say to them? For the longest time I would say “Can I help you?” After listening to Bruce Baker, I realized that I was being a bit presumptuous. By using the phrase “Can I help you?” or “How can I help you today?” we are making ourselves more important than our customers. Think about it for a sec “can I help you?” It sounds like our customers are not capable of helping themselves so obviously they NEED our help.

We all know this is not true, and it is not what we are trying to convey. How often have you asked a customer if you can help them only to hear “No thank you, I am just looking.” By asking if we can help, we have turned a potential customer into a browser. How often do you get a sale after hearing “I am just looking?”

So how can we get our message across without looking like we are more important? According to Bruce Baker, it takes only two small letters. You heard me right, letters. So what are these magic letters? I and F….


Think about it. Which is a friendlier approach, which one gives you (as a customer) a better feeling? Which phrase makes the customer dominant? “Can I help you?” or “If I can help you?”
IF provides us with a respectful distance in conversation. Our customers do not feel like we are trying to cram our products down their throats. Instead they feel welcome and relaxed. We have made them the center of our conversation; we are there for them IF they need anything.

This little technique is much easier than saying No to Thank you, and it does work wonders. I hope my ramblings are coherent today for you. Anyway, have a great day filled with sunshine.


  1. First of all Happy Birthday to your little one! Mine also just turned the big ONE on July 28th and I completely agree...what a year of learning but also a wonderful year of joy!

    As for the IF factor I had never really thought of it like that. We have a craft show coming up this weekend and I'm definately going to give it a try! Thanks for the tip!

  2. What a simple way to change a question. I'm going to try this at my festival in 2 weeks. Thanks you!

  3. I always just say, Hi, how are you? Isn't the weather great today? What a great festival? Look at the turn out. That sort of thing.

  4. Happy Birthday to Conner!!!
    Great advice!!

  5. I always say hi! How are you doing today? Then the customer answers, and asked me if I am having a good day. We start talking, and they compliment me on my jewelry. Then I say if I can help you with anything? Please let me know. And I leave them to browse, until they decide. I noticed sometimes, some customers don’t really like you to rush them, because it turns them off from shopping.


Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!