Retail Sales Training: Why Send Customers to Your Markdowns?

By Bob Phibbs

greeting a customer

Lately, major chains seem to be taking a page from the same tired, retail-sales training book.

Somewhere on a torn page, it must advise managers to station a person within four feet from the front door and use them as a designated greeter.

Think Wal-Mart but closer.

Except, instead of being cordial, these new greeters are to "greet" the customer with news about their sale merch. Hanging out just inside the entrance, they become soulless puppets muttering the same markdown mantras over and over.

But if you're going to designate a person to only greet your customers, don't you want them to use their energy to suggest the new spring lines you just got in? Or make a positive comment based on what the person in front of them is wearing? Or try to make that shoppers' day by offering them a smile?

I think so.

Instead, customers are pointed to the markdowns like there was gold in last September's picked-overs still there in February; those leftovers are in the flea market.

If your customers wanted to go to the flea market, they would.

When I am performing retail sales training, I teach that greeting is only one aspect of the sales process, and that the greeting should be connected as a building block toward customer trust, make sure the people you are stationing out front are only the beginning of the relationship that ends with, “I’ll take it.”

Ideally the greeter follows that customer through the store helping until the time of purchase. Meanwhile another person has positioned themselves at the front to await the next customer. In this way, each greeter becomes a salesperson.

If you are going to station employees in front of your store, whose sole job is just to greet customers, give them retail sales training that follows these four tips.

Four ways to use a greeter:

  1. Have them start with the attitude that they are welcoming someone into their living room.
  2. Train them to say greetings like, "Good afternoon," and to avoid, "Hi, how're you doin'?"
  3. Train them to make eye contact and smile.
  4. Train them to spotlight a specific item for each customer ...and not the markdowns. This means your greeters need to know the merchandise in your store.

Part of the reason shoppers avoid interaction with greeters is that they are not seen as people, but as parroting bodies saying the same thing over and over. Much like those pesky perfume samplers, customers just want to avoid them.

Face it, there are fewer customers coming through your doors in February, so relax the hype and let your greeters become human. Let them inform customers of a new spring sweater they really like or of the new board game that just came in.

By allowing these greeters to share their connection with your goods, they will make a connection with your shoppers in your store.

And that's something that doesn't happen at a flea market.

To learn more about retail sales training and greeting your customers, grab a copy of The Retail Doctor's Guide to Growing Your Business (Wiley)

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