How to Handle “Walk-in” Customers and Convert Them to Buyers

Today is the day. The day you move into a new, bigger retail space that’s right next to a busy intersection and more visible to passersby. 

Prime real estate.

Previously, your traffic has been coming from online ads. But by your second month in the new location, you realize you’re experiencing a higher number of walk-customers than you had at your last store. So what do you do?

This is almost the exact situation a real retailer—Cathryn Clark, vice president of Columbus Mattress Wholesale—asked in a mattress industry Facebook group recently. 

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The responses to the question were incredibly insightful.

Steve Houk, owner of Boise Mattress gave one of the simplest and to-the-point answers: treat them like you would your other customers.

And that brings up a great point. If you’re not already trying to convert your customers that come in through online ads, you’re missing out on business.

The key, and something Stew Segura, co-owner at Mattress Doctor Lafayette, says to do it ask the right questions.

“Offer solutions to their current problems or wishes,” he explains. “Inform them of any and all programs that could help them—delivery, finance, white-glove, customer satisfaction guarantee, etc.”

JeMiale McKinney, who works in sales at Badcock Furniture in Knoxville, offered a generous amount of sage advice, starting with asking the magic questions: what’s wrong with the mattress you have now?

He says to start by asking how old the mattress they have now is and what’s wrong with it. Then let’s say the customer says it sagging, you ask where it’s sagging and what kind of pain they wake up with.

McKinney says to then tell the customer you’re going to give them some space to shop around because no one likes to hover, but not before showing them one key thing.

The first thing everyone wants is to sit on the mattress or lay sideways across it to test it, he says if there are two people in the bed, they probably don’t both sleep on their back. Show them how the mattress can address her two biggest pressure points—how her hips are level with her knees and her shoulders so she’s aligned. Then bring up the old mattress that sags and explain how the mattress’s construction defeats that problem.

He offers this script as a next step: 

RSA: “Now this is an added expense so we don’t need to worry about it today. (Diffuses them. Keeps them from tensing up) Let me show you the motion lifestyle base because all of our mattresses are compatible and can be upgraded later (defuse, defuse). Lay on your back for me. You might need this later on (defuse) if either of you develops snoring, acid reflux, or you wake up and you’re still sleepy”

Customer: SHE snores already! I have terrible acid reflux!

RSA: “I understand. I like sesame chicken for dinner too, bro. Check this out. As you lay flat you’re actually making your body lay stick straight, which is unnatural. You have no slack in your diaphragm or your belly. Try to take a deep breath in. Feel it get tight? Watch this (raise the feet. Raise the head. Turn on massage on feet only). Now we have slack back in our midsection. Take a deep breath now and see how much more oxygen you pull in. See how your belly swells? You’re pulling in oxygen now. Deep breathing. Oxygen-rich blood. Deep sleep.

Think about the last time you went on vacation to the lake or beach. You probably slept like a log that night. And everyone guesses they wore themselves out. (This story is to stall them and keep them in the cradle position longer.) Well. Research shows it’s not that you wore yourself out. Think about it. You run hard at work too. Come home and you’ve got insomnia. If hard work knocked you out you’d sleep well every night. No. The reason you sleep so well on vacation is because the lake is outside. The beach is outside. You spent the whole day pulling in a lot of oxygen. And that’s what you’re doing right now

If you want to go ahead and add your lifestyle base (assumptive close, they never even said they were buying the mattress yet) if you want to go ahead and upgrade to your lifestyle base you won’t need a box spring. So I can deduct that. And then I can combo price it. With the financing special I’m running I could get you around $125 a month interest-free.”

Customer: Wow! Mattress, lifestyle base, and everything for $125 a month?

RSA: I can do it. I believe they haven’t closed Friday’s truck yet. Do you want me to call the warehouse real quick and tell them we want that delivery spot? (Silent close)”

Boom! Dropping knowledge bombs everywhere we look.

And this is just one example of one type of customer. Think about the ways you could tweak this for any type of shopper that walks in your door.

What this all boils down to is finding the right questions. And once you do that, you’re one step closer to converting a walk-in customer to a loyal shopper.

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