Successfully meeting the customer involves understanding the factors that bring customers to the store and understanding the importance of first impressions. Customers come to you with preconceived ideas about what they expect. Among the things influencing customers are the following:
- Previous experiences in the store
- The store’s advertising
- Displays of merchandise
- The store’s interior and exterior environment
- Importance of good services
Recognizing that customers have hidden expectations makes it even more important for salespeople to take responsibility for developing favorable first impressions, to be aware of the store’s promotional efforts, to keep customer records up to date and to handle objections courteously.
The First 10 Seconds
Successful selling begins not when the customer begins actively looking for merchandise but during the first 10 seconds when the salesperson makes contact with the customer. Sales communication begins with the first hello. The way you look and sound during the first 10 seconds creates lasting impressions on the customer. The main objective during the first contact is to make the customer feel welcome; make them feel at home in your business. The beginning moments of a sale can make or break the sale closing.
People react positively to pleasant surroundings. Besides enhancing the store’s environment, attractively and appropriately groomed salespeople are more confident of themselves and more enthusiastic about their job. Well organized, clean work areas are also signs to the customer reflecting your feelings about your job. In the same way, pleasant voice intonation lets customers know that you are eager to help them.
- Recognize the customer immediately
- Smile sincerely
- Keep your work area neat
- Be neat and well groomed
Customers can tell in a minute whether you are interested in helping them, so use greetings to suit the situation at hand. Successful greetings are courteous, pleasant and brief. They require positive responses and emphasize that you want to help, not just make a sale.
The merchandise, neighbor or knowledge approaches all provide good methods for opening avenues to successful selling. The merchandise approach lets you focus on the item the customer is examining and find out more about the customer’s needs by opening he door to an exchange of information between the salesperson and the customer. The neighbor approach, using general comments about current events or the weather, is a natural greeting for some salespeople to use. Other salespeople prefer the knowledge approach, volunteering additional information about the product the customer is examining.
- Be sincere
- Use a greeting that requires a positive response
- Focus on the customer and the merchandise
- Emphasize a desire to serve