Multiple choice. How does the typical customer respond to this question:

“How can I help you?”

A: “I’ve come to fork over my hard-earned money on some of your fine merchandise. Here’s my wallet – please, just take whatever you need!”

B: “I need a king-sized bed, two nightstands, a dresser, mirror and chest in a solid cherry finish with brass accents – and I can wait if you need to order it.”

C: “I’m just looking…”

C is correct. How many times does your customer, Ms. Jones, say it to you it in a day? It’s the bane of any salesperson, but it’s self-inflicted. “What brings you in today” and “How can I help you” are the retail equivalent of asking your teenager, “How was your day?”

You’ll be disappointed if you expect any answer other than, “Good.”

How are you? “Fine.”

What did you do today? “Nothing.”

Where did you go after school? “I don’t remember.”

Unlike your sullen teenager, Ms. Jones doesn’t have to answer your questions. She can turn and leave any time she wants. You have one chance to get her attention and start a conversation.

Here’s another game: list ten ways you can greet Ms. Jones that make it impossible for her to respond, “I’m just looking.”