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

Bob Phibbs
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retail sales training greeting customer

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 ...

You and your custom motorcycle hurtle down Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. You turn around at the intersection and stop in front of an apartment building.

You grab your precious cargo - two extra-large meat lovers' pizzas with extra cheese and extra 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 on but no one comes to the door. You wait, then cautiously enter and see two of your friends talking. They stop and notice you, but go on talking.

You shut the door, take off your leather jacket, and go up to them. "Hey," one says and looks past you. The other looks at the counter and yells, "Hey the pizza is here!" and they all run over as if you weren't there.

How would you feel?

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

Discover: How to create your best retail sales strategy with this comprehensive primer

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 just 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 walks in, first 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 her with, "Good morning! Welcome to (your store name). While I'm with another person right now, please look around and I'll be right back."

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

See also, Customer Service: Greeting Your Retail Customers

In Sum

The best salespeople make big sales by developing warm relationships that start with a friendly greeting. Whether they are white, black, straight, gay, single, a couple, a mom, 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 

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