Being Your Customers’ Cheerleader


Encouragement and validation at the point of sale and on the range will only bring positives!

New customers are continuing to visit your store every day — many having made the decision to buy their first firearm. These customers shop differently than your experienced gun owners and need a bit of encouragement. The salesperson needs to be the customer’s cheerleader.

Customers need a cheerleader for three reasons: 

1. To validate their decision to buy a gun.

2. To allay their fears of hurting themselves or someone they love.

3. To encourage them to get the training they need to be a safe and responsible gun owner.

Why Validation Is Important

Customers buying a gun for the first time need the salesperson to validate their decision. The demographics of first-time gun buyers are evolving and include more older adults. In Shoot Like A Girl’s recent Annual Report, of their 3,457 guests who participated in 2022, 67% were over 40 years old — 17% of those were over 60 years old. This is a long time to live without feeling like there was a need to buy a gun, but here we are today, as gun sales continue to be strong.

Data also tells us most new gun owners are purchasing firearms for personal protection. For these customers, coming to terms with their decision is a constant process. As their cheerleader, retailers can validate their decision and also acknowledge the courage the customer is showing.

For example, an elderly customer comes in to buy a gun for the first time.

Retailer: “Is this your first gun?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Retailer: “Wow, that’s great! You’re making a good decision.”

It’s subtle, but this little bit of encouragement will more than likely lead to different conversations than you have with experienced gun owners. Experienced gun owners typically don’t want to talk about the features of the gun and/or gun safety; they like to talk about hunting, range time or general information about guns. Comparatively, first-time gun buyers want to discuss the specific features of the gun and learn as much as they can from the “expert” salesperson. The first-time gun buyer may tell you a long story of how they came to the decision to be in your store. If this happens, retailers should be prepared to listen and follow up with encouragement. 

At Shoot Like A Girl, some of the stories we’ve heard are, quite frankly, horrifying. We always talk about the courage it takes to make the decision for the individual to be responsible for his or her own security. We don’t ask detailed questions about our guest’s story but show compassion and encouragement toward their decision to learn to be a safe, responsible gun owner.

Help Them Overcome Fear

Potential new gun owners also are afraid … of the gun. Let’s face it, mainstream media does not portray guns in a way that makes the average person feel “safe.” To add to it, many of us firearms enthusiasts quickly discount their fears by saying things like, “There’s nothing to be scared of.” While true, it sure doesn’t help the new gun owner feel any better.

If the salesperson picks up on any fear, we recommend validating the customer’s fear. Retailers can tell the customer, “It’s okay to be scared.” Validate the fear, then follow up by encouraging them with a statement such as, “Having fear means you understand the responsibility, and it will help you be a safer gun owner.” If your store offers safety classes, it would be a good opportunity to let the customer know about them — which leads to our next point …

Explain The “Why” For Training

Potential new gun owners also need to be encouraged to get training. If they have finally come to the decision to purchase a gun, they need to learn how to safely use it. As an industry, we want everyone to be safe. Unfortunately, just saying, “Get training” can get lost in translation. Retailers can encourage customers to get training by explaining to them the “why” and the necessity to be safe.

This encouragement can be blunt — but hey, they need to hear it. If they ever find themselves in a situation where the use of their firearm was their last and only option, they need to be ready. They’ll only be prepared through training and practice. However, don’t count out the fact training is fun; share with them the fact shooting has the psychological effect of feeling good from aiming at a target and hitting it.

An Unlikely Job Description

When you opened your shop or got a job at the gun counter, you might not have thought “cheerleader” would be part of the job description. But to help people buy a gun for the first time, you really need to be one.

Many of these first-time gun buyers have delayed the decision to buy a gun for decades, and if you can recognize and understand why they have now made the decision to purchase a gun, it will facilitate the sale. They need a cheerleader who can validate their decision, address their fears and point them in the right direction to get training. If you can do all this, chances are good you just created another long-term customer. 

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