Asking for the sale is not as awkward as it sounds. The sales technique isn’t about coming right out and saying “will you please buy?”, but rather, asking questions that help a shopper make a decision to buy. If they’re not interested in buying, they’ll simply let you know. But if they’re on a fence, you’re helping them make a decision.
Let me share a personal story to help explain.
My husband could eat a Dairy Queen ice cream blizzard almost every night for dessert. As much as I would love to have one every night, it doesn’t really fit into my low-sugar diet.
There are some nights, I really want an ice cream treat, but I’m sort of looking for a sign that I should have one. I’m like the shopper who’s on the fence about buying.
I might throw out a few hints, such as “I’m feeling snacky”, “I’m not quite full after dinner”, or a “yum, that looks good” when a TV commercial for a dessert comes on.
If my husband doesn’t perk up and say “I could go get us DQ blizzards?!”, I take that as a sign not to have one that night. But if he does mention a blizzard, it’s really easy for me to say “yes”.
This is sort of how “asking for the sale” works when it comes to shoppers.
They have the product in their hand, and they’re going back and forth about buying or not. Simply asking them a question may be the sign they’re looking for to buy. In this situation, if you don’t “ask for the sale”, they may decide it’s not the right time to buy, and you’ve lost a sale that should have been yours.
There are several occasions I’m easily persuaded into a “sale” of something.
- The waiter stops by during our meal and asks if I’d like another drink before I even realize my glass is getting low.
- Planning to stay in on Friday night but then a friend calls and asks if I want to go out.
- A sales associate asks if I want to try something on when I wasn’t planning to.
It can work the opposite way too. If those little nudges, hints, or signs aren’t there, I’ll decide not to give in.
- If I want another drink but the waiter doesn’t come around or I can’t get their attention, I figure I don’t really need one.
- If I’m thinking about going out but no one puts it out there first, I’ll settle with staying in.
- I can’t find a sales associate to open a fitting room, so I decide I don’t need the item or that I’ll come back later.
Why it’s important to ask for the sale
Asking for a sale is like a call to action (CTA). Basically a “do this now” type of instruction for your shoppers. It seems too simple to be effective but there are many studies proving how a “sign up below”, “enter your email” or “buy now” prompt can increase conversion rates online.
Offline, at a craft show, a question helps nudge shoppers towards what they should do next.
In most cases, people appreciate being told (nicely) what to do and when to do; it makes things simple.
Asking for the sale isn’t pushing someone into buying when they’re not comfortable to do so. It’s helping a shopper make a decision.
When the decision is “no”
Asking for the sale when a shopper isn’t ready to buy can help you change your sales technique to see if you can encourage a sale, or help you realize you should focus your efforts on another shopper.
- “No, I’m just looking” – get a feel as to whether they’re just passing time, or are interested, but not planning to buy that day. Consider getting them on your newsletter list.
- “No, I want it but my birthday is coming up and I should put it on my wish list” – hand them a business card with the product name, SKU number, or details so they know what to pass on to their gift-givers.
- “No, I need to think about it” – get them signed up for your newsletter so you have more opportunities to share the benefits of your products, or offer more information that helps them make a decision.
- “Goodness no!” – someone who has no interest in buying your products, they just find them entertaining or are browsing your work and asking questions so they can attempt to make your items. Let’s move these shoppers along so you can focus on people who love your work and do want to buy.
If you don’t ask for the sale, you don’t know how to better assist these people.
When the decision is “yes”
Asking for the sale when someone does want to buy ensures you don’t lose that sale.
Your craft show booth getting crowded, the shopper’s friend distracting them, you starting a casual conversation with another shopper, can all encourage a shopper who is ready to buy, to change their mind.
Once you ask for the sale and they admit, out loud, they’re interested, on some level, in buying an item, they become even more committed.
Asking for a sale creates a simple “yes” or “no” situation. Consumers want decisions to be easy. Just check out this article, which is proof we’re willing to spend more when things are easier.
10 Ways to Ask for the Sale
Asking for the sale isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. We’re not going for “How many can I put you down for today?”
It really doesn’t even need to be a question.
Think of “asking for the sale” as a question, statement, or action that helps your shoppers make a decision or makes them feel more comfortable with the idea of buying.
Here are 10 simple ways to “ask for the sale”.
1) Would you like me to wrap that for you?
This question works great during gift-giving holidays, especially if you offer gift-wrapping, but it’s still a valid question at any craft show. If a shopper has been holding onto one of your products but is still browsing your table, ask this question to see where they’re at in the buying process. They may let you know they’re trying to decide between a couple of products, at which point, you can jump in with helpful information.
If you know a shopper is buying something as a gift, you may ask them if they’d like you to gift wrap it for them. This can be a service you offer for an additional fee, or as a perk during the holidays (if your prices allow and the gift wrapping costs won’t eat into your profits too much).
2) Would you like me to put that aside while you continue to browse?
If a shopper is still looking at your work and they say they aren’t quite ready to buy, you can ask if they want you to set it aside for them so they have both hands free to shop. Putting something aside may make a shopper feel more committed to buying.
3) Have you decided on that item?
A simple question to ask when a shopper is holding onto an item, and that will encourage someone to come to a decision, or to share information that will help you help them. For example, they may say “no, I’m just trying to decide which necklace my friend will like”. Then you can ask other questions to help them make a decision, such as “what’s their style?”, or “what colors do they tend to wear?”, or “how do they typically wear their hair?”.
If you don’t feel comfortable being that forward, you could also ask if you can help them make a decision.
4) Did you want to wear that out?
This question obviously only works for clothing or accessories but applies when someone is trying an item on and is admiring themselves in it. You can offer to snip off the tag and process the transaction without them having to take the item back off.
5) Today I’m offering…
If your profit margins allow, a promotion or perk can help encourage more sales. For example, a soap vendor may offer a free lip balm when someone is buying 3 bars of soap. You’re not asking a shopper for a sale, but rather suggesting today is a good day to buy. It creates urgency if the perk is a limited-time offer (e.g. today only, or at this craft show only, or for the holidays).
6) That’s my best seller / I always sell out of that / That one is my favorite
Everyone wants to feel like they fit in. Letting someone know that they’re looking at a product that many others also love can give them the confidence to buy. Not only that, it creates a bit of urgency. If a shopper is admiring an item and you let them know it sells out at every craft show, they may decide to buy now rather than circle back after they’ve visited other vendor tables.
You’re not “asking” them to buy with this one. But you are letting them know they’d be making a great decision if they do decide to buy (which can encourage them to do so).
*The following aren’t as direct but will help shoppers make a decision and provide you with information that will help you use the right sales tactic.
7) Did you have any questions about that item?
This question can help you see where they’re at or guide them toward making a decision. They may reply with “No, I’m ready to go with it”, let you know they need to think about it, or that they can’t decide on an option (at which point, you can help them decide). Or they may ask a question that lets you point out key features that will sway their decision.
8) What do you think about that item?
Get them to open up and share their thoughts about a product they’re focused on. Saying out loud what they love about your product can make them feel more confident in their decision to buy. This question is appropriate when dealing with reserved shoppers because it’s an open-ended question (Learn more about how to use open-ended questions to your advantage here). They may still keep their answer short (e.g. “It’s nice”) or they may share their thoughts, which allows you to answer questions and make a connection…which also helps encourage sales.
9) Are you thinking about buying that item?
If a shopper is holding an item in their hands and you don’t want to ask for the sale, simply ask them to share their thoughts about buying. This can help you uncover and address any reservations. “I am but I don’t have any cash” gives you an opportunity to tell them you accept credit cards or that there’s a bank machine at the entrance. “I am but it’s a gift and I’m trying to decide if they’ll like it.” allows you to tell them how popular the item is for gift giving or that you allow exchanges within 30 days. Even if they answer with “I’m not sure” it allows you to ask more questions to help them make a decision (e.g. “what’s making you unsure?”, “did you know I offer full refunds?”, “did you want to try it on?”, etc.).
10) Just so you’re aware …
If you haven’t already done so in the sales process, point out the benefits of a product or of buying from you. You might point out a guarantee you offer, what makes your business/products different/better, or a product feature/benefit they may not be aware of. This information can help a shopper feel more comfortable buying from you and help them make a decision.
Additional Asking for the Sale Tips
There are a few other points to keep in mind when asking for the sale to help you, and your shoppers feel more comfortable.
Get the timing right
Asking for a sale too soon can come across as pushy and may even deter shoppers from buying. On the other hand, if you wait too long to ask for a sale, you may lose a customer. Give the shopper time to look through your products and watch for cues, such as going back to a product, spending several minutes examining a product, showing a product to their shopping buddy, holding onto a product, etc. These are good signs a shopper is trying to make a decision about buying, and you should jump in to help them.
Keep it relevant
Each situation will require a different “ask”. For example, if someone is pointing out one of your products to their shopping buddy, it may be a bit pushy to ask if they would like you to wrap it up for them. On the other hand, if someone has been holding a product in their hands for the past several minutes, asking to wrap it up would be appropriate.
Keep the “ask” short, sweet, and confident
If you’re not confident in what you’re selling, shoppers won’t feel confident in buying. The more you practice asking for the sale, the more comfortable you’ll feel. Having short, simple questions to ask ensures you can ask them with confidence, and that you won’t tie up too much of a shopper’s time.
Use the right language
Knowing your target market is key (this will help if you haven’t defined your target market yet). When you know who your target market is, and you know them well, you know whether they want to hear words such as “toxin-free” or “environmentally friendly”. It may seem like both phrases target the same type of consumer, but a target market interested in protecting their body wants to hear “toxin-free”, while someone interested in protecting the environment wants to hear “environmentally friendly”. Two very different target markets so it’s important to use words that make your target market’s ears perk up.
Are you going to give this technique a try at your next craft show? Share your thoughts or questions about asking for the sale in the comments!
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!