Greetings: The First Step in Selling

welcomeThe first 10-15 seconds from the moment a customer walks through your door is the most crucial part of any sales presentation. It is more important than product knowledge or closing skills. You need to get their attention and build the relationship.

Timing counts

If you greet the customer as soon as she enters, you may be perceived as being too aggressive or pushy.  If you wait too long, she may feel neglected or unappreciated. Try counting to 10 before greeting her. That allows her to adapt to the surroundings and feel comfortable but still makes her feel welcome and important.


Let your body speak

Body language works on the subconscious mind. It communicates how you feel about yourself and your customer. If you are hunched over a project and only raise your head to speak, it conveys a message that what you are doing is more important than your customer. If you quickly stride up to them to shake their hand, you may scare them away. The first step is to smile and make eye contact to acknowledge their presence and give them a warm, friendly feeling.


Use your entire body to welcome them into your space. Take a lesson from old-school entertainers like Dean Martin or Danny Thomas. They take ownership of the stage by opening themselves with feet apart slightly beyond shoulder width, arms spread out to the side, palms facing the audience. Your store is your stage. Try using that posture while saying “Welcome to our store.  I am happy you came to visit us.”  Introduce yourself. Be natural. Ideally, you should take a step onto the showroom floor, but it even works if you are behind the counter.


One of the old-school entertainers, Danny Thomas

One of the old-school entertainers, Danny Thomas


Be yourself, but be flexible

You need to let your own individual personality guide you. Find your own comfort level and way of speaking, but be ready to vary your approach for different customers. Younger customers will feel more comfortable with a casual encounter while seniors may prefer a touch more formality.


Do the unexpected

In most stores, the greeting becomes stale and ordinary. Often it is delivered in a monotone, rushed manner. “Hiwelcomehowareyou?”  The response is just as automatic. “HiIamfinethanks.” A salesperson in a tropical resort area might try something like, “Congratulations!  You dodged all the falling coconuts and made it in alive! What can I do to help celebrate your good fortune?” If it is raining, ask if they are enjoying the beautiful, liquid sunshine. You want to be so different from the usual greetings that they can’t help but respond in a genuine manner.


Ask open-ended questions

Never ask a question that can be answered with “No.” Use words like How, What or Why that require a conversational response.  “May I help you” is a perfect example of a question that will get a no, while “How may I help you,” or, “What brings you in today,” will elicit a discussion of their wants or needs.


Get some jewellery in their hands

Once someone holds a piece of jewellery, they start to claim it as their own. If they express a particular interest, escort them to the proper case and let them hold it. If they haven’t given you a clue, hand them a new piece and ask their opinion. The joy of jewellery is not looking at it, but touching and wearing it.  Share that joy.


Greetings are often the last thing we think about or practice but handled properly; they set the stage for an effective selling experience.

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