February 27/March 6, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 19
By David Romano
I held a sales meeting covering the proper ways to greet customers. During that meeting, we did a lot of roleplaying. What I noticed right off the bat was there was no consistency and lots of bias. I understand greetings should not be canned and sales associates should sell the way that makes them comfortable, but is there some standard I can teach them?
Dear Inquisitive Owner,
I first would like to applaud you for conducting a meeting using roleplaying. So many times I hear, and even witness, meetings where videos from 1986 and presentations from 1992 are shown to the sales team in the hopes they will understand how to greet customers. Watching those videos or presentations will never have the same effect as getting them involved in uncomfortable situations where they work out a solution in front of the entire team.
I do agree with your statement that greeting should not be canned; customers see right through that cold and impersonal interaction. It’s like going out to a restaurant and watching the manager ask the same question, “How is everything?,” to all the restaurant guests in the same manner.
Following are elements of a greeting that should be followed religiously:
- A greeting with a handshake. A handshake can tell you a ton about someone. In one simple, three-second act, you can find out if the customer is dominant, impressionable, sweet or cautious. Knowing the customer’s personality style and adapting your selling style accordingly is what separates a great RSA from an average one. Remember: 20% of what makes a salesperson successful is her skills and knowledge; 80% is her ability to make a connection and build rapport.
- Making an introduction. It is important to be on a first-name basis with the person who could potentially spend thousands of dollars at your store. That exchange of names should take place sooner rather than later in the sales process.
- Offer your assistance. This is where you briefly find out what brought the customer in to the store. You can find out all the pertinent details when you offer the customer a beverage and a snack during the qualification process. For example, you might ask, “So, what project are you working on?”
I disagree with the reader’s notion that each sales associate should sell the way that makes her feel more comfortable. The common belief that you should treat others the way you want to be treated might be a good golden rule in life, but it’s not appropriate when it comes to sales. What I propose is, “Treat others the way they want to be treated if you want to be a successful sales associate.”
For example, if the customer is direct the associate needs to conduct himself accordingly. Conversely, if the customer is cautious the sales associate needs to become the expert and build trust. Customers who are sweet and sensitive want a sales associate who shows they are genuinely interested in providing a solution to their issue. Have your sales team take a DISC test to review the various personality styles in order to better understand the concept of relational selling.
Practice these tips and you will find the proper greeting will lead to better close rates, a higher level or return/referral business and more money in your pocket.