Retail Wisdom: The right greeting can make (or break) the sale

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June 6/13, 2016; Volume 30, Number 25

By Pami Bhullar

Dear retail store owners, can we once and for all agree to ban the phrase: “May I help you?” Not only is it a cliché, but as an opening greeting it’s weak and feels more like a rhetorical question that usually elicits responses such as, “No thanks, I’m just looking.” Worse, it often closes the door between the RSA and the customer even before the meaningful, exploratory communication process begins.

Truth is, the consumer might not know precisely which questions to ask at this point in the sale process. While the shopper may have a general idea as to the kind of floor she wants for her new home or remodeling project, many feel that an overly aggressive salesperson might “hound them” before they have had an opportunity to peruse the displays and samples on the show floor. On the flip side, many retail sales associates—many of whom work on commission or other revenue-based incentives—are, by nature, very competitive and look to seize an opportunity by making an introduction that will eventually lead to a sale.

The good news is many shoppers who land at your doorstep have at least conducted some online research about the various flooring products that are available, how much they cost and where they can buy them. Better yet, many are looking to buy new flooring today, tomorrow, next month or perhaps six months down the road. So when they arrive at your store the trick is to quickly develop a rapport that doesn’t come off as insincere or overly aggressive.

Following are some examples of effective, alternative greetings:

  • “Welcome to (store name), thanks for the opportunity to serve you.”
  • “Glad you stopped by (store name) today. Is this your first time here in our store?”
  • “Thanks for visiting (store name), the home of fashionable floors, my name is …”
  • “Hi. Welcome to (store name), where we make homes look beautiful. I’m…”

Today’s customers are pressed for time, and many have already looked around on the web or shopped one or two brick-and-mortar stores—including a home center or mass merchant chain. When they come to a specialty store, they are likely there to buy. And given the fact that you probably spend a lot of money, time and energy to bring customers into your store, you want to make sure you give each visitor or prospective customer a thoughtful, meaningful presentation on the products, services and warranties you have to offer.

When the customer walks into your store, her actions might suggest that she’s “just browsing.” But what she’s really saying is, “Hey, I really do want to know more.” If she didn’t want to see your product or hear your story, then she probably wouldn’t be there in the first place. So make sure the preliminary encounter with the customer is positive and memorable for all the right reasons. The ideal greeting will present the salesperson as an educator and a professional who can guide the sale to a desired conclusion.

Remember, you are the flooring expert. You and your team are the ones who know what factors the consumer needs to consider when purchasing flooring. Convey that message effectively and you will see positive results.

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