Lost a Sale? It All Started With How You Greeted Your Customer

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Greeting a customer is the most important thing you can do right ... or wrong in a brick-and-mortar retail store. I'll cover that shortly, but first, picture it ...

On your custom motorcycle, you hurtle down Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. You U-turn at the intersection and pull up in front of an apartment building.

You grab your precious cargo - two extra-large meat lovers' pizzas with extra cheese and sausage- and hurry into the building.

Within moments you have bounded to the second floor to knock on your friend's door 20 minutes before the start of the game - the semifinals of the NCAA Division I basketball tournament. No one answers.

You can hear the TV, but no one comes to the door. You wait, finally enter, and see two friends deep in conversation. They notice you but go on talking.

You shut the door, take off your jacket, and approach them. "Hey," one says and looks past you toward the pizza. The other yells, "Hey, the pizza is here!" They all run over to get a slice as if you weren't there.

How would you feel?

Well, that's how first-timers might feel entering your store or showroom when ignored.

That's how many salespeople ultimately lose sales opportunities.

If a friend knocked on your front door, how would you answer? "May I help you?", "I'll be with you in a minute?", "Finding everything ok?" of course not! Yet, the curt actions of poor clerks often give that message. As their excuse for not greeting a customer, some trainees tell me, "But I don't like to be bothered when I shop. I like to be left alone."

Well, introvert, retail is not about what you want. It is about what customers want. Leaving the shopper alone costs your company big money. 80% of customers never return to businesses due to perceived indifference from staff. 80% want to be noticed. 100% want a friendly greeting.

Greeting anyone with "Good afternoon, welcome to (your store name) feel free to look around, and I'll be right back" is not pushy. It's good manners and the first step to making a successful sale. Doing it within 15 seconds is the best (that's not that long - try counting as you walk into your store.)

Sometimes brick-and-mortar employees size up the shopper long before they actually say anything to them.

I used to have an employee like this - he felt he could "read" everyone, and if they were looking, he'd let someone else wait on them. It would be like the hostess of your local diner giving the Prime Rib menu to only those she felt could afford it, while the others got the menu with hot dogs. That comes from their personality, but that's another post...

If you're with a shopper and another enters, ask the person you're helping, "Would you mind if I greet this person? I'll be right back." Any reasonable person will say, "Yes." When you meet the new customer, greet them with, "Good morning! Welcome to (your store name). Please look around while I'm with a customer, and I'll be right back."

No reasonable person will be offended, and you can return to your first shopper. The person who entered can relax and look around; the first shopper doesn't feel you abandoned them.

In Sum

The best salespeople make big sales by developing warm relationships that start with a friendly greeting. Whether white, black, straight, gay, single, a couple, a mom, a dad, etc., they're all purple, and their money is green.

If you don't use retail sales training to master this first step properly - greeting shoppers like they are coming to your home - your brick-and-mortar employees often make their job much harder. Learning how to greet customers in retail should be a given.Download SalesRX Brochure