Sales Coaching – How to Turn a Shopper Into a Buyer – Taking a Sales Lead

Shoppers don’t yet know what they want to buy so how do you turn them into quality sales leads?. This is how a person’s mind is working when they are shopping for, say, a new kitchen. “I know I want a new kitchen, but I don’t know which style to choose; I don’t know how much I can afford; I don’t know what kind of sink, or taps, or oven, or worktop, or fridge, or … to choose? You may find this kind of response is familiar for shoppers in your industry.

Do you send them off with a brochure? Do you take the lead anyway in the hope that the prospect would have “got themselves sorted out” by the time the sales appointment comes round? Do you try and help them make a decision on product ranges before you take the sales lead? Do you dismiss them as time wasters? Most of these responses to a shopper will generally develop into a sales lead that does not sell.

Buyers, on the other hand, will generally know what they want and spell out or list the ingredients of their required purchase. Their mind is working in a more focused way and slight changes to their original order can easily be made to the final sale through the introduction of “value added” products and services such as labour saving equipment and insurance backed guarantees, etc.

A few qualifying questions asked of a buyer are quickly answered. They are open to suggestions based on new technology or better quality materials. They want to get to the next stage of their buying cycle as quickly as possible. However, they are still looking for one more ingredient to turn them as a qualified sales lead into a satisfied buyer and customer. If you are thinking … discount or special offer, you are way off the mark! Before this question gets answered, let’s go back a step and look at a few tips on how to tell a shopper from a buyer.


  • shopper will meander around a display area and will probably be trying to compare ‘apples’ with ‘pears’ from your product portfolio.
  • Physically, a shopper will walk and touch things more hesitantly.
  • Shoppers will generally wait to be asked if they need help.


  • Alternatively, a buyer will be more focused at what they look at from a product point of view.
  • buyer is more likely to read point of sale information.
  • buyer will ask more in-depth questions and will probably relate these questions to specific circumstances – their reason for wanting the product.
  • Buyers generally approach or walk towards a product or sales assistant more confidently and will be more likely to open the conversation.


For the person taking the sales lead, it just needs them to watch the customer’s activity and change the opening comments or questions to fit their assessment. However, the opening question can be the making or breaking of converting the shopper into a buyer. Although these are generalisations, it is a basic human characteristic of how knowledge, or lack of, affects the psyche.

Now for the answer to above comment of what additional ingredient is required to turn a buyer into a qualified sales lead and subsequently a satisfied buyer and customer. This is also the same ingredient that helps shoppers become buyers. It is confidence and you will never get anywhere near the completion of a sale with any prospect until you have installed this characteristic into the shopper or buyer.

Taking this a stage further … if you agree with the precept that people buy people first and the product after, the feeling of confidence from a prospect must be in the sales person not necessarily the organisation they represent although this may be a consideration later.

Getting the “first contact” right every time means understanding how this element of the sale forms an important part of the complete process that takes a sales lead to a successful sale. However, there are many companies that sell their products and services direct to the public that do not successfully link the sales lead with the sales presentation and, as a consequence, will always be working on the wrong aspects of conversion ratios.

Ian D Ludlow helps sales and customer service people and organisations in the business-to-business, direct sales and retail environments to improve their current performance.

As a Master Practitioner of NLP and Accredited LVT Practitioner, he uses fun and creative techniques to change unproductive behaviours and to help individuals and teams THINK FASTER and REACT QUICKER to ever changing market conditions.

He states, “If you carry on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Ian’s specialism is knowing what to change and how to change it with minimum effort and maximum return.

Ian helped improve the average sales value for a retail business by 14% which added £34M in sales revenue over one year from 320 stores. He also helped increase the sales conversion ratio by 7% through quality sales training and lead generation programmes for a kitchen and bathroom installer; increasing sales by £24M over one year.

Ian D Ludlow can be contacted on +44 (0)1795 55 56 83 whilst his website is under construction.

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