I am a student of human behaviour and I specialise in understanding human decision making. Being a keen observer of human behaviour, specifically how people interact with each other, I find that coffee shops are great places to observe the interactions between the staff and customers coming in to buy coffee and food.

One of the things that many retail staff don't seem to understand is that they are actually in a very strong position to influence the customer on what to buy and how much to spend. There are a number of possible reasons this occurs:

  1. They may not have the training

  2. They don't care, or

  3. "It's just a job" attitude


They often feel the customer is in charge. The customer asks them for a coffee, say a latte, and they go and make it. They hope the display of biscuits and cakes will stimulate the person to buy that as well. At this particular coffee shop, I sat there observing this interaction and noticed that hardly any customers bought anything additional but what struck me as strange was that they weren't asked to buy anything more than they came in for! The lesson here is simple.

If you don't ask you don't get.

Think about your own purchases, how often have you said that you were only going to spend a certain amount of money but then walked out of the place having spent more and in fact enjoyed the process of doing that as well?

It's about asking questions. It's what McDonalds do very well. "Would you like fries with that?" This one little question adds an extra 20% to the bottom line. Go to a McDonald's store and see how many people buy the meal of extras. When you have a captive audience, realise the power you have on the situation to influence buyer behaviour.

Chance favours the brave. At the most all a prospect can say is "NO".