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There’s a reason why people say first impressions are important; it’s the first time you interact with someone, and the first time they’ll make a judgment about your business.
A simple way to make a good first impression is to acknowledge every new person that enters your store or visits your booth with a warm hello. This makes customers feel like their visit is important to you. Remember, your verbal approach should also match your non-verbal cues. Customers will pick up on body language, and if your posture, tone of voice, and eye contact don’t align, they’ll get mixed signals. Some important non-verbal signals to be conscious of are:
- Maintain eye contact when talking this helps the person know you are interested in them
- Smile- it makes you look happier, friendly, and trustworthy
- Avoid crossing your arms- it makes you look untrustworthy and defensive
Engage and listen
Once you’ve said hello, start a conversation to learn more about their visit. Depending on your business, a new customer might want to browse, test, inquire or buy. Your job is to figure out what it is by reading their behavior and asking questions like: “what brings you in today?”, “can I help you find what you need?”, or “do you have any questions about what we do?” These should help you figure out what a customer wants, so you can provide a better experience for them.
Reading your customers is just as important as asking questions. Very often, customers will just want to browse and won’t want someone following them around. A good rule of thumb is if a customer engages in conversation, and actively asks you questions, they probably want your help. If they respond with “oh, just looking around,” let them wander and follow up a few minutes later to see if they have any questions. Listening to your customers’ responses are important, but don’t forget to read their non-verbal signals too.
For those customers who are interested in learning more or need help, it’s time to talk about what you offer.
For example, if you own a yoga studio, and they’re curious about your classes and memberships, first ask them how long they’ve been practicing yoga or if they‘re looking for a specific type of class. Then explain the different classes and membership you offer and recommend something that would work for them (a beginner’s class if they are new to yoga or a hot yoga class if they want to try something new). By giving personalized suggestions to each customer, you’re showing that you listened to them closely and that you value their business.
Are they just browsing? Let them know you’re having a sale or introduce new products or services you now offer.
Help a customer select the best product or service for them, close the sale, and give them a fond farewell.
If they’re not ready to commit, give them a reason to come back. Tell them about an upcoming sale or free trial period. A creative way to get someone to come back is by creating giveaways like sales coupons, Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) deals, free trials and asking customers to sign up for your email newsletter for a chance to win a prize. Remember to make it worth their while, without going beyond your own resources. And lastly, don’t forget to give them a business card with your contact information in case they have any questions.