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.

The Buyer’s Mindset

As a sales professional, it’s critical that you put everything else out of your mind when approaching buyers and focus on the buyer’s mindset.

When put into a sales scenario, the buyer’s mindset subconsciously shifts, asking important questions which must be answered before they are comfortable moving ahead with the sales process. Because this is a subconscious process, we know that it is always at work. We can count on it. More than that, we can make it our ally.

How often have you heard yourself, or others saying the words, “I’m just looking” when approached by a salesperson? It doesn’t matter what the buyer’s individual personality style may be, this is a universal, knee-jerk reaction because of the mindset change we all undergo when a sales scenario starts.

We are thinking,

  1. “I don’t need you, your product or service;”
  2. “I don’t have any reason to trust what you have to say;”
  3. “I don’t need any help to determine if you have a product or service that interests me;” and
  4. “I’m in no hurry to make a decision.” So, basically, “Let me shop by myself, thank you.”

One of those four thoughts will be the starting point in most sales situations you encounter. Once you understand that and work from that point of view, you will more quickly reduce sales resistance and increase sales acceptance.

The following four words, and the questions they bring to your customer’s mind, control every sales situation: Need, Trust, Help, Hurry.

Here’s how.

NEED

 “I feel no need.” Your goal as a one-call closer is to help them change their mindset to one of “I feel some need.”

TRUST

“I feel no trust.” No one will let you persuade them to do or own anything if they don’t trust you. So, you must work toward helping them think, “I feel some trust.”

HELP

“I want no help.” No one ever wants to admit they’re helpless. However, you can certainly help someone see that you can provide answers in areas where they may not be as educated as you are. After all, you are a trained professional in your field. So, you need to change their mindset to one of “I want some help.” And, that you are the one I want to have help me.

HURRY

“I feel no hurry.” Your job is to help them see that by taking care of the buying decision today, they’ll be better off than if they wait. They need to think, “I feel some hurry” in order to take action. It’s your job to create urgency.

It is extremely important that you learn how these four very specific words help define your potential client’s sales resistance. They are the primary barrier between “no sale” and “sale.” They are the main line of defense. They will keep you from providing the prospective client the very product or service they agreed to talk over with you and/or need the most.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. Excerpted from Sell It Today, Sell It Now.

 

Rapport Building – Step 7: Giving Sincere Compliments

Step #7 in the Rapport Setting process is to give a sincere compliment to your potential clients. This doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Something simple is fine as long as it’s sincere. That means it must be honest. You would never compliment someone on their “lovely home” if it was a disaster. Likewise, you wouldn’t say you like anything that you don’t honestly like.

Rule of thumb: If you don’t like something, say nothing about it. Instead, look for something else that you do like or can honestly compliment them about [Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 5: Match their speed and volume of speech

From the old Western movies of my childhood the phrase “fast-talkin’ city slicker” comes to mind when teaching this topic. It was a term used to describe the outsider, someone not to be trusted. And, building trust is critical to the forward progression of every sales situation.

Since people tend to feel comfortable buying from someone who is like them, it’s important that you pay attention to the little nuances of communication that help them feel (consciously or subconsciously) comfortable with you. How much attention you need to give this nuance will depend upon the demographic of your potential clients and the territory you work within. [Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 4: Making Good Eye Contact

There are all sorts of sayings about eye contact such as:

  • If you won’t look me in the eye, I can’t trust you.
  • The eyes are the mirror of the soul.
  • The eyes have a language of their own.

These few sayings alone demonstrate the power of eye contact. They tell you that you must use your eyes to build trust, demonstrate sincerity and speak honestly.

I teach nine steps to building rapport at my 3-day, high-intensity Boot Camp Sales Mastery program. The fourth step, making good eye contact, is one of the most challenging for some people who are new to sales. It’s also a challenge for some veterans who aren’t closing as many sales as they would like. They just don’t realize it.     [Read more…]

First Impressions

Most of my staff members have been with me for over 25 years. Working with our content day in and day out, they know it very well. When they go about their daily lives, they really notice the nuances of selling in their own personal purchasing situations. Some have recounted stories of salespeople who have literally cringed when they learn who my people work for. The salespeople will say things like: “Well, you already know what I’m going to do and say, don’t you?” (At least they use the tie-downs!) Or, “Are you grading me on my sales skills?” If you know any of my staff members, you’ll know they would be like me in these situations and just have fun with it. When their “sales experience” stories are related back to me, we often discuss how our training could help improve the sales process. In some situations, it might be awkward to make suggestions because the people they’re working with don’t seem to know they’re in sales.

[Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 3: The Handshake

To shake or not to shake, that is the question. It used to be that salespeople would always shake the hands of everyone they met. In today’s world, that isn’t always the case. As with many aspects of selling, clients should be treated the way they want to be treated. And, there are people out there who just don’t want to shake your hand.

Depending on what your product is, the handshake may be inappropriate. For example, if you market products to senior citizens, there’s a likelihood that they might have arthritis in their hands and shaking hands is uncomfortable for them. Be aware and be gentle with those people. If you market products to people in the health care field, they may be averse to the handshake because of the potential spread of germs. In these situations it never hurts to ask (with a smile) “May I shake your hand?”

However, in most sales situations, a handshake is appropriate and expected. Handshakes can be very telling. If yours is weak, it makes a negative first impression on your potential clients. If it’s too strong, that can also create a negative impression. [Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 2: Remembering Names

In sales, we meet a lot of people. And one of the most important things to every person we meet is their name. So, it’s critical that we get those name right…and that we remember them.

I’ll never forget one incident that embarrassed me so much that I immediately sought a way to change how I remember names. I had met a very nice couple and spent quite a bit of time over one weekend showing them homes. On Sunday afternoon, we found the home that met all their needs and they wanted to make an offer. As I filled out the legal documents, I said to the husband, “Shall I put your name down as Bob or Robert?” He said, “Tom, I think Jim makes a lot of sense.” [Read more…]

Rapport Building – Step 1: The Power of Your Smile

Your primary goal when working with a new potential client is to get them to like you, trust you and want to listen to you. That’s the absolute most basic foundation of all of my training. The reason you take the actions and use the words I teach is that they’ve all been designed and proven to make you likeable, demonstrate trustworthiness, and say something worth listening to.

This is one of the most miniscule strategies I teach, yet it can make or break your career. Don’t dismiss this or take this information lightly because it’s one of the first things people see in an intial contact and it sets the stage for how the rest of your contact goes. [Read more…]

Use an Intent Statement

I recommend the use of intent statements to set the stage for every presentation. An intent statement is designed to reduce sales resistance that is created by the unknown. When potential clients don’t know what to expect next their minds tend to wander and their anxieties build.

Your intent statements tell your clients clearly what they can expect from your time together and relieve any sales pressure they are imagining. It accomplishes two very important tasks:

1. It introduces an agenda of sorts so everyone has a clear picture of what to expect.

2. It lets your potential clients know that it’s okay to say “no.” (No, I’m not crazy…read on!) [Read more…]