Ever hear the expression first impressions are everything? It is important to start any interaction off on the right foot, especially, in sales. Reason being, we are prone to judging people (it’s actually a flaw, in our brains, more on that here). More times than not your client is going to judge your demeanor, body language, tone, attractiveness, smell, smile, energy, responsiveness, etc. You cannot control it because this is how people are and that’s alright. Focus on what you can control. You can control your greeting. Every sales assassin has a strong greeting. In my post, How to Become Selling Machine, I talk about how the greeting is the first step, in the sales cycle. It is imperative that you perfect your greeting to improve your client’s impression of you and saving them time.

First, you need to get a couple things right. Energy and enthusiasm spread like herpes, on a college campus (gross but true). If you are energetic, your client will pick up on that. Smiling, in my opinion, is the most important part. You have to smile. A smile says that you are friendly and inviting. No one wants to work with a grumpy person. Personal appearance and smell go hand in hand. You need to be dressed to impress. I don’t mean suit and tie. Dress the part. It would look weird if you are a mechanic decked out, in a suit. Be presentable and professional. Smell is huge. I cannot stand someone with coffee breath or worse, shit breath. If you are a coffee drinker just know you have terrible breath. Make sure you brush your teeth and use some mouth wash after you drink coffee. If you don’t brush your teeth we have other issues… Shower and make sure your hair is not bedhead. Body language needs to be on point. Typically, salespeople overlook this but don’t lean, cross your arms, slouch, etc. It’s uninviting. Speak clearly and have a positive tone to your voice. Don’t mistake this for being loud. Finally, maintain eye contact. Looking your client, in the eye, is how you build trust. If you cannot maintain eye contact, practice it because your client is thinking that you are not confident in what you do or are saying and they will chew you up and spit you out.

Now that we got the underlying pieces out of the way, we are left with what you say. In the furniture business, we used to welcome our clients then ask them “would you like to look around?” Everyone answers yes to this. If they don’t, then they tell you why they are there and you take them to that inventory. Simple as that. Personally, I liked this approach because you get your client in a yes mood. Then you follow up with a more engaging question. I found it to be an easier more efficient approach. Plus, the most effective closers are the ones that beat the client to the objection. In retail, “I’m just looking” is by far the most common objection anyone ever hears. Beat them to it. Break down that barrier then go in for what they are here for. This approach pretty much only works if you work, in a setting, where your clients come to you.

There are a few different approaches you can take. First, you can ask questions to narrow down what your client is in search of and how you can assist them. Choice questions are very effective. You can narrow down what your client wants with these and then show them your inventory to match. Second, there is the information approach or open ended question approach. You can ask your client what information you can get them, what project they are focusing on, or what they saw on the internet that you can find for them. Embrace the internet! A lot of salespeople fear the internet. There is no need to. Everyone pre-shops online and does research. Give them value by embracing it and being on their side. Ask yourself, what issue are they having and how can you help them solve it?

Verbiage is one aspect that most salespeople are unaware of. Mentioning ‘browsing’ or ‘looking’ is poison to your sales process. There is no commitment to those. Example: “Were you looking to have a V6 Mustang or the V8?” Instead you could say “were you wanting the V6 mustang or were you upgrading to the V8?” There are two things that happen with this verbiage. First, your client is creating ownership of a product, in their head, that they don’t even own yet. Second, using upgrading to the V8 insinuates that the V6 is the downgraded model and let’s get real, everyone wants the best. Ultimately, they may not buy the best or maybe can’t afford it but everyone wants the best. Replace words with no commitment with action verbs that create ownership. You really only need a few. You can recycle them a few times throughout your interaction if you run out. Here are a few of my favorite phrases:

  • Are you wanting
  • Are you needing
  • Are you upgrading
  • Are you interested
  • Are you updating
  • Are you replacing
  • Are you hoping to find

There should be 4 objectives, during the greeting. Having a game plan will set you up for success. In your head, you know what you need to get from your clients, in the first interaction. You then persist longer because you know what you need and then you get out. A great tool to get these out is to say “real quick” or “just so you know.” I created these 4 but you can tailor them to your business:

  1. The funnel. Your client is there for something and has a specific need. Find out what it is. Narrow it down with a few questions to determine what it is your client needs and how you can help.
  2. Name swap. The name of your client is the most important piece of information you can get from them. First name basis starts the friend ship process. Remember the name. Repeat the name. If you struggle remembering the name, write it down. Giving up your name first and swapping information is effective. You can say “my name is Cody and you are?”
  3. Give information upfront to pull out possible objections. In the furniture business, a huge objection was the wait time. To combat this I had my team ask, in the greet, “how soon did you need (remember create ownership) this by?” We found out within the first minute if time was an issue and worked to overcome it. Simultaneously you can educate your client about how it works. We would respond with letting our clients know that once they decide on their purchase that it would take 4-6 weeks to order product and get it, in their home.
  4. Create urgency and excitement! This is my favorite part because you can get impulse buys from this. Let your client know what awesome deals and sales you are having. Sales is all about confidence. Boost your client’s confidence that they did in fact come in at a great time and made a wonderful decision that will save them time and money. My team’s response was “guys you came in at a great time, reason being, everything store wide is on sale (and then educate them on the sale).

Persisting, through the greeting, is where you break down barriers. I have a three just looking policy. My team overcomes objections, in the greet, by hurdling over them. The key is to give it three swings, of the bat, and if you still don’t get anything then get out. Remember, if you get hung up in the funnel, you still need to complete the 3 other objectives before getting out. This is where using terms like “real quick” or “just so you know” will grab your client’s attention just long enough to burn through the rest, of the objectives. You will be surprised how people open up when you persist. I feel like they know you are a more equipped professional and respect that (don’t get me wrong sometimes you still get put in a body bag, it happens). Here is an example of this concept:

Customer: “I’m just looking.”

Sales Assassin: “Perfect, what project were you focusing on today?” (positive upbeat tone and smiling)

Customer: “Oh, well I’m just looking.”

Sales Assassin: “Alright, were you focusing more on ______ or ______ today? (positive upbeat tone and smiling)

Customer: “Dude, I’m really just looking.” (simultaneously putting you in that mental body bag)

Sale Assassin: At this point realizes to back off and finish last 3 objectives.

There are so many things that stack up to create a powerful greeting. Stick to these and you will find success and more engaging clients. If you keep getting put, in that body bag, there is a high chance your verbiage, tone, phrasing, or body language is off. Video tape yourself or practice and have someone look out for those things. Even the most minute detail could throw off the whole thing. Get off on the right foot and the entire sales process feels like a downhill breeze. If you don’t perfect it, it’s a grueling uphill battle.

Comment your favorite learn from this post! What are some of your favorite questions to ask, in the greeting?

Go now and get those great interactions that I know you can get!

-Cody