The Initial Greeting

The initial greeting is so important. As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. Let me share some ideas for getting off on the right foot in a retail situation.

A couple walks into your store or display area. You don’t know their names. At this stage, it’s just plain pushy to ask. All chance of building the necessary relaxed feeling is often lost in the first moments by overanxious salespeople who stick out their hands, introduce themselves, and ask people for their names. The prospects are startled and embarrassed because they weren’t ready for that kind of attention.

Here’s how to avoid the possibility of this happening. A couple walks in. You don’t know their names and have no reason to believe they want to make your acquaintance. When you walk toward them, stop several feet away to avoid invading their space, and say something along these lines:

  • “Hello. Thanks for coming in. Please feel free to look around all you want. If I can give you any information, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
  • “Welcome to [name of your store]. What brought you in today?
  • “Good morning. Thank you for coming by. My name is Tom. If you have any questions or need assistance, I’ll be over here. Just ask.”

When you’ve spoken your version of one of those greetings, turn and prepare to walk away.

That’s right, walk away.

Don’t whirl and run, of course. Turn away slowly. If they stop you by asking a question, you’re there and ready to help. If they acknowledge you, then turn to move elsewhere in the store, you simply step aside but stay in the general vicinity so they’ll know where to find you. If you’re where you should be, they can easily ask you a question if they care to.

It’s curious how many people will head for the door when you crowd them, but will ask for the product or service they came in for when you speak courteously to them and then start turning away. By showing that you respect their privacy, you assure them that they’ll be safe in asking for what they want.

Let them settle. If you leave them alone after greeting them, and if they have any genuine interest in your product or service and the ability to buy it, they’ll home in on that item. All you have to do is let them settle.

If your product line is appliances and your store handles several types, watch without staring. Using peripheral vision, you can be looking at something in the dishwasher section when they light on a particular TV set. If they stay there for a full minute, they’ve settled. Now it’s time for you to stroll over and casually move into the next step.

Ask an opening involvement question. An involvement question, of course, is any positive question they’d ask themselves about the benefits of the product after they own it. You don’t know their names yet, of course, and it’s too soon to ask.

Walk up and say, “Would the television replace your old one, or is it going to be an additional set for your home?”

With slight changes in wording, you can adapt this opening involvement question to almost any product or service. Once you get them talking about why they want what you’re selling, you know how to go into your qualification and minor closing sequences, how to eventually lead them into happy involvement with a purchase.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International. Inc.
Excerpted from How to Master the Art of Selling.

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