Approach With Care: Getting Help for ‘May I Help You?’

No phrase in retail has more enemies among sales trainers than "Can I help you?""It's almost a useless thing to say," says blogger Seth Godin. "If you want to end a conversation with a teenager, just ask, 'How was school today?' If you want to end a conversation with a customer, just ask if you can help.""On the surface it sounds like a reasonable question," notes Jeff Mouwatt, author of Influence With Ease, whose Web site is "It's an offer to help somebody. But it is probably one of the worst greetings, because it gets a conditioned response."That response is, almost invariab

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