Boost Your Sales with Four Greetings that Really Work

What's the first thing your customers hear when they walk through the doors of your store? Is it something along the lines of "Hi, how are you?" or "Can I help you?" Are your customers being greeted with a blank look, or are they receiving no greeting at all? If you can think of a time you left a store because no one seemed to care, or couldn't be bothered to help you, then you know that making customers feel welcome is the first step to making a sale.

A simple "Good morning!" is a great place to start, but to truly connect with customers, train your sales staff to take it one step further. Every customer should be met with a sincere, engaging greeting. It's just good manners. Even if you're busy with another customer, take a moment to excuse yourself and welcome the newcomer.

One caveat – don't let sales staff parrot scripted "corporate" greetings that sound insincere and comes off as impersonal. A bad greeting can be even worse than no greeting at all. As an example, the other day I walked into a shop and was greeted with a bland "Hi, how are you?" "I'm great, how are you doing?" I replied, but the clerk didn't bother to reply. He just went back to reading the newspaper. Talk about a first interaction falling flat.

Don't forget about the farewell. Even if the greeting and overall experience were average, offering a sincere closing as the customer is leaving is like a "mulligan" in golf – it gives you that second chance to make a good impression.

By the way, if you're not sure what the first thing your customers hear is, talk to us. Our mystery shopping service can help you find out.

Four greetings that really work

1. "Thanks for coming in." Start the exchange off by letting a customer know she's appreciated. She's choosing to spend money at your store over your competitor's, so let her know she's making the right choice. This works well particularly if you remember her – thank her for coming back and ask how she liked the blouse, jumper cables, or book she bought last time.

2. "Have you been in before?" This is a fantastic opening line because it creates a conversation. If the customer answers no, your staff has a great excuse to show him around, and tell him a bit more about the store. If the answer is yes, your staff can thank the customer for coming back, and point out a few things that may be new since his last visit.

3. "Are you looking for something in particular?" An oldie but a goodie, this standard opener works because every customer – even the ones who claim to be just browsing – is looking for something. It gives a customer the opportunity to ask questions right away if she has them. If the answer is "I'm just browsing," be sure to follow up by pointing out a few items of interest. "Take a look around! We just got a new shipment of lovely silk scarves, and all winter apparel is on sale today. Let me know if I can help you at all."

4. Open with a comment about the weather. It's a cliché that people talk about the weather, but it's true for this reason: we're all affected by it. Welcoming your customer with "Hi! How are you surviving this heat?" gives her the opportunity to talk about herself (which we all love to do), and can give your sales staff the chance to point the way to the fans, novelty ice cube trays, or whatever else the customer may need.

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