Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

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    Junior Member makeup4ever's Avatar
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    Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    Hello Everyone!!

    At my counter we're challenging ourselves to ask customers more open-ended questions without the word 'help' in it. I usually start with a smiley greeting, "Hello, how are you?" and am sometimes met with, "I'm just looking" from the customer. I respond with, "Ok, we have a huge range/lot of colours to look at, I'll check back with you in a few minutes if you'd like (me) to try something on (you)." I find the first icebreaker question a struggle, how do you make it sound genuine without sounding 'sales-y'?

    Sofar I have asked;

    What can I show you today?
    What colour are you would you like to try on?
    What colours are you wearing?
    How may I assist you?
    What do you need a hand with?

    Customers act surprised and smile, like they are so used to giving yes or no answers; some don't like it and still say they are only looking. Oh well.
    If they are just looking I'll usually talk about the features of the product they are hovering around (eg.nailpolish) very long wearing, highly pigmented, great colours, dries quickly, additional nail treatments, offer tape or polish remover to try on their nails, etc.

    So my Seasoned Specktrites... please confess to your best open-ended questions that you have asked or have been asked yourselves... thanks!

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    Senior Member MiCHiE's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    "Do you have a particular look in mind?" seems to me like a question that will open a floodgate and garner potential sales. Honestly, I think a lot of women are looking to piggyback on looks they've seen on celebrities and so forth. I don't know if/how many artists hear this, but I constantly see women in the salon where I work drooling over pictures in magazines.

    Being in front of MAC's shadow displays is truly overwhelming to a newbie, but I think a question like that may help.

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    Senior Member euphrosyne_rose's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by makeup4ever
    Hello Everyone!!

    At my counter we're challenging ourselves to ask customers more open-ended questions without the word 'help' in it. I usually start with a smiley greeting, "Hello, how are you?" and am sometimes met with, "I'm just looking" from the customer. I respond with, "Ok, we have a huge range/lot of colours to look at, I'll check back with you in a few minutes if you'd like (me) to try something on (you)." I find the first icebreaker question a struggle, how do you make it sound genuine without sounding 'sales-y'?

    Sofar I have asked;

    What can I show you today?
    What colour are you would you like to try on?
    What colours are you wearing?
    How may I assist you?
    What do you need a hand with?

    Customers act surprised and smile, like they are so used to giving yes or no answers; some don't like it and still say they are only looking. Oh well.
    If they are just looking I'll usually talk about the features of the product they are hovering around (eg.nailpolish) very long wearing, highly pigmented, great colours, dries quickly, additional nail treatments, offer tape or polish remover to try on their nails, etc.

    So my Seasoned Specktrites... please confess to your best open-ended questions that you have asked or have been asked yourselves... thanks!

    I'd have to say that if you work at a MAC counter, I need to find your store, LOL!!! I've only had those kind of questions asked of me maybe 3 times out of all the times I've been to MAC!! Thanks for being so helpful and polite to your customers!!!
    Erin
    NC30/dark brown hair/green eyes

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    Senior Member VeXedPiNk's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    I really like it when an artist approaches me and just starts talking about whatever I'm looking at. Then after we've chatted a bit, they'll start asking questions. It makes me feel a lot more comfortable, because it doesn't feel like they're just going for a sale.

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    Senior Member KikiB's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    At my job we are all about the open-ended questions...probably the best one that I would ask is the "What kind of look are you going for?" It is not only very open-ended but it allows you to build the look with eyes and lips and such.
    Proud Dazzleglass Bimbo...who desperately needs Oh Garnet.The name is Katie. Learn it, love it.

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    Senior Member DirtyPlum's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    How about:

    What brings you to MAC today?
    What kinda look are you hoping to achieve?
    What kinda colours do you normally wear?
    What colours are grabbing your attention?
    How do you like your makeup to look?
    What kind of skin do you have?
    What occasion are you shopping for?
    When do you normally wear makeup?
    How comfortable are you with bright colours / pinks / applying MU / using creme blushers?
    Which colours do you currently have at home?
    Why are you considering a new foundation/ what dont you like about your current foundation??

    The take-away technique is so hard and sometimes feels totally unnatural but I like your response...
    M A C - a lifestyle...

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    Senior Member LMD84's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    well i dont work in teh make up industry but i am store manager for an electronics store where it's all about sales!

    I make my staff use 5 non negotiables to make a sale. which is pretty much greet in a non business mannor (such as making a comment about the weather, they're shopping bags or whatever - like 'wow you've been treating yourself alot today!' if they have plenty of bags. then i ask them what equpiment they have at home to see what they want, ask what screen size they are after, anything they must have in the product they are looking to purchase. Then we top-down sell within the customers needs. menaing start at the most expencive item and move down to teh cheapest within a certain range. then demo the product so customer can see what it looks like and what it can do. and then add on's which is making sure customer buys all cables, cleaning stuff they need for teh new item and the close teh sale.

    and if people say to me after i've given them a demo and they say thanks and walk off i usually ask them was it the right product for them. if they say yes then i ask why aren't they buying as i have so many left. then they have to give a valid reason. i convert so many people just by asking them why they're not buying!!

    but yeah the best thing is just ask questions and questions about what the custojmer wants and what they already have and what they want the product to do. be it make up or a big sony tv!

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    Senior Member sofabean's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    I'm one of those customers that actually really hate open-ended questions... I think I'd much rather appreciate an MA that approaches me first and asks if I need help, and if I say no, then to back off. Sometimes I do have questions and I appreciate when they approach me first so I can ask those questions instead of me having to flag them down.

    I like this line because none of the MAs ever offer to put things on me. I think with trying things on, more people are in tune to make a purchase:
    "I'll check back with you in a few minutes if you'd like (me) to try something on (you)."

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    Junior Member Monica22's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sofabean
    I'm one of those customers that actually really hate open-ended questions... I think I'd much rather appreciate an MA that approaches me first and asks if I need help, and if I say no, then to back off. Sometimes I do have questions and I appreciate when they approach me first so I can ask those questions instead of me having to flag them down.

    I like this line because none of the MAs ever offer to put things on me. I think with trying things on, more people are in tune to make a purchase:
    "I'll check back with you in a few minutes if you'd like (me) to try something on (you)."


    Id Have to Agree in a way! Im Really Shy so the less Questions the better haha when im asked for help i tell them brefily what im looking for and thats that im out haha I hate being soo dam Shy lol

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    Senior Member foxykita143's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    I think you have the right idea, but I also think its about reading your customers. I'm not the type who likes someone hovering around me and telling me about everything I look at because it makes me feel like they are trying to rush me or it just gets annoying because I may already know, and I don't want to be rude or seem like I don't appreciate your help, which I do, but I am not shy and will come to you. You don't know how many people have lost big sales from me just by bothering me so much.

    I've also been in sales before, and I found the best way to make yourself available, offer help, and up the sale, is to say something small, or do something small. Like if you see a girl looking at eye shadows and she picks up a particular one, smile and say "Wow, that would look gorgeous on you" or, simply walk by, point to an eye shadow and say "This one was calling your name before you even came over to the counter" and by saying something like that that also includes a slight compliment towards them, it automatically makes them ease up towards you and feel like they have the upper hand so they wont mind asking you for help, or discussing what they are really interested in. I also liked to find a way to be near my customers, but I was careful so I wouldn't seem like I am following them. Like in your case, if she is by the lipsticks, keep some distance and stay by the foundations and do something trivial like wiping off the testers so you dont seem too busy, but you dont seem like a wallet stalker either (thats what we used to say at work when someone would scare off a customer for being too "in your face" lol) Also, one thing that I notice is if I walk into a store and someone tells me all of the new products right off the bat, it seems more like something the manager made them say, so instead, you could try to say it more casually. Like if they walk by a new display, you could say "Ohh I see you noticed the new products" and smile in a knowing way, and just briefly go over everything in a way that makes it seem more appealing like "Everyone is dying over *blank*(a color that would suit them well, or a specific product that is the same kind they were interested in)"

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    Junior Member RetroPinup's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    Well I usually go up to them with a compliment ...or question about the weather, as long as it is genuine. Then have a bit of personal chatter. Then I ask "What brings you to MAC today?" Most of the time they have a response, but if they say that they are just "looking" then I ask "What are you looking for?" If they still just want to look then I tell them my name and let them know what I'll be doing like cleaning the counters etc. and ask them if that is ok. Then just check in to see if they need help

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    Senior Member User49's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    Yeah I think that a way to make the open ended question less stepford- wives- mac- assistant is to compliment them first or make a comment that isn't about the make up. If you just go up to someone and shoot out "what can I help you with today" it's too sales driven. And I don't know about other MA's but I genuinely love my job and the last thing I would want a customer to feel is pressured into something, especially coming from Benefit cosmetics where it's less open ended questions and more slap it on and sell it even if they aren't sure. I think all of the girls in my store and myself could work on our open ended questions a little more so they come out more natural. I agree that saying 'what kind of a look are you going for' is one of the best ones!!

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    Senior Member giz2000's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sofabean
    I'm one of those customers that actually really hate open-ended questions... I think I'd much rather appreciate an MA that approaches me first and asks if I need help, and if I say no, then to back off. Sometimes I do have questions and I appreciate when they approach me first so I can ask those questions instead of me having to flag them down.

    I like this line because none of the MAs ever offer to put things on me. I think with trying things on, more people are in tune to make a purchase:
    "I'll check back with you in a few minutes if you'd like (me) to try something on (you)."

    This is exactly what I used to do...and I used to sell a lot! I actually approach customers like I would like to be approached. I feel comfortable with that approach, and the customers can tell when you're actually willing to help them, or you're just going for the sale.

    Also, you need to learn to read customers and ask questions about their lifestyle in order to steer them in the right direction...at least in my experience, a lot of customers don't want Electric Eel shadow or Pink Poodle lipgloss...they want Era and Beaux. I would ask, for instance, a woman with a child in a stroller, if she actually had time in the morning to do a full face of makeup (being a mom myself, I was pretty sure she didn't). I would show her colors that could be swiped on easily (Grain, Shroom, etc) and build a face around that. Customers appreciate your taking into consideration that she might not have time to put on a full face, or that she doesn't wear a lot of makeup on a regular basis.
    "Don't think you can....know you can."

    Morpheus - The Matrix

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    Senior Member II3rinII's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    we've been trained to take this approach:

    MA: "welcome to mac! how are you doing today"
    cust: "fine. you?"
    MA:" im well. what brings you in today"
    cust:"just looking"
    MA:" we definatly have a lot to look at, have you shopped with us before?"
    (if no)MA: "ok just to let you know, we have foundations and skincare here, all of our color products here and right there is our newest collection. we have q-tips and youre welcome to swatch anything and check out the products. if you have any questions or see anything you want to try, my names erin. i'll let you check things out, is it ok if i check back on you in a bit?"
    (i give them space, let them soak it all in, this gives them a chance to feel comfortable in asking me questions. i also try to add in some small talk, if they have a cute peice of jewelry or a cute top or shoes, i compliment it)

    when it comes to the customer wanting certain products i try to ask questions that they cant answer yes or no, this is the "investigating" part so i can give them what they want. things like:
    "is your skin more normal to dry or normal to oily" if they arent sure i aske "what does you skin feel like when you first wake up"
    "what have you used in the past?"
    "what textures do you prefer?"
    "how much time to you have to get ready?"
    "what kind of a look do you want? something for evening or daytime?"
    then you can narrow down what lip/eye/face product they need, ask if they would like to try it on.

    just read your customer and some are more needy than others and you may need to adjust how you speak to them.

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    Member Gblue's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    i like the "hi, what are you looking for today?" - always seem to get a good response from it. like "oh i need BLAHBLAH!"
    usually though, i forget to say that because i'm swamped on my own and end up saying "can i help at all?" to get the old 'just looking thx.' doh.
    if you do get a flat answer just mention you are about if they have any questions or need any help.

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    Senior Member giz2000's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by II3rinII
    we've been trained to take this approach:

    MA: "welcome to mac! how are you doing today"
    cust: "fine. you?"
    MA:" im well. what brings you in today"
    cust:"just looking"
    MA:" we definatly have a lot to look at, have you shopped with us before?"
    (if no)MA: "ok just to let you know, we have foundations and skincare here, all of our color products here and right there is our newest collection. we have q-tips and youre welcome to swatch anything and check out the products. if you have any questions or see anything you want to try, my names erin. i'll let you check things out, is it ok if i check back on you in a bit?"
    (i give them space, let them soak it all in, this gives them a chance to feel comfortable in asking me questions. i also try to add in some small talk, if they have a cute peice of jewelry or a cute top or shoes, i compliment it)

    when it comes to the customer wanting certain products i try to ask questions that they cant answer yes or no, this is the "investigating" part so i can give them what they want. things like:
    "is your skin more normal to dry or normal to oily" if they arent sure i aske "what does you skin feel like when you first wake up"
    "what have you used in the past?"
    "what textures do you prefer?"
    "how much time to you have to get ready?"
    "what kind of a look do you want? something for evening or daytime?"
    then you can narrow down what lip/eye/face product they need, ask if they would like to try it on.

    just read your customer and some are more needy than others and you may need to adjust how you speak to them.

    Totally agree 100% with this...
    "Don't think you can....know you can."

    Morpheus - The Matrix

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    Senior Member VeXedPiNk's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by giz2000
    I would ask, for instance, a woman with a child in a stroller, if she actually had time in the morning to do a full face of makeup (being a mom myself, I was pretty sure she didn't). I would show her colors that could be swiped on easily (Grain, Shroom, etc) and build a face around that. Customers appreciate your taking into consideration that she might not have time to put on a full face, or that she doesn't wear a lot of makeup on a regular basis.

    I think that is a great point to make, and I appreciate that you recognize that.

    There have been several times where I have stopped off at MAC on my way home from work, exhausted after a long day and not wearing much makeup. I have been greeted with a basic "can I help you find anything?". And when I respond back that I'd like to take a look around and get back to them, they walk away and I have a difficult time flagging them down again. Yet when I walk in with my makeup fully done and respond in the same way, the artist will stay and chat or check back frequently.

    This is not something that happens frequently. Most of the artists at the two stores I usually shop at are great! It's wonderful to walk into MAC looking like crap and still be treated the same as the glamorous girl two feet away from me... because chances are I'm there to buy MAC to lift my mood And when someone takes the time to actually find out why I'm there and what I'm looking for, instead of just trying to make a sale, I'm gonna buy a heck of a lot more!

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    Junior Member makeup4ever's Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    Thanks for all of the responses. I totally agree about reading your customers through their body language; When browsing, I usually say, "Thanks but I'm just looking and I'll let you know if I'd like anything." I wish more customers said this to me too. I'm so impressed and inspired with most of these open-ended questions that I wrote them down and will present them at our next staff meeting. Please keep them coming!!

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    Senior Member *KT*'s Avatar
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    Re: Asking 'opened-ended' questions...

    One of my co-workers has been a salesperson for ages and her open-ended approach is a greeting followed by "How can I help?" I've always liked it because she's not pointing out the obvious or asking anything real specific, just offering to help in whatever way.

    If they say they're just looking for now, she'll follow up with the method mentioned above "Well I'll be right over there if you need me, otherwise I'll just check back in a few minutes to see how you're doing."

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    New User BriannaKaitlynHoward's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by *KT* View Post
    One of my co-workers has been a salesperson for ages and her open-ended approach is a greeting followed by "How can I help?" I've always liked it because she's not pointing out the obvious or asking anything real specific, just offering to help in whatever way.

    If they say they're just looking for now, she'll follow up with the method mentioned above "Well I'll be right over there if you need me, otherwise I'll just check back in a few minutes to see how you're doing."
    I get very angry when the consultant turns me around. In this state, I can not choose what I came for. The delicate designation of the possibility of help is quite enough for me.

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