The Greeting Part 2

I think that it is sometimes assumed that when new employees join our stores that they know how to properly greet our customers.  After all, they did greet us during the interview.  Unfortunately it has been my experience that many store employees do not know how to properly greet a customer. It seems in most retailers today, if an employee makes any effort to greet a customer the management is satisfied.  (As for those employees that are simply not inclined to greet customers, that is another issue all together.)

So what does a great customer greeting look like.  Here I will break it down.

Pre-Greeting  It is important that employees maintain their sight-lines so they can check for customers. If engaged in tasks, an employee should look up regularly from their work.

Acknowledge  If an employee spots a customers they should acknowledge them with eye contact and a smile.  A nod helps a customer know that they have been spotted.  If the customer maintains eye contact you know they need help and you should move to the next phase. If the customer nods and smiles in return but then looks away and  continues their wandering, you can assume that they do not need any immediate help.

Approach  If the customer maintains eye contact, you should approach them immediately. Walk towards them with a certain sense of urgency to show that you feel they are important.Step up to them and stop an arm’s length away from them.  The is the generally acceptable distance to maintain when talking with a customer.

If the customer backs off, do not move towards them.  The want more space.  If the customer moves toward you, hold your ground, they are likely a “close talker.” If a customer makes you uncomfortable being so close, simple pick up some product and hold it in front of you as if you needed to pick up that item as part of your work.

Engage  Now engage the customer.  First as a human being, not as a walking wallet.  Extend a friendly greeting to develop rapport than pivot to helping them with any immediate needs such as way-finding or a simple question.  Finally, you will be in position to move onto helping fulfill their needs.

Simple, effective, professional.

The Greeting Part 1: That one didn’t count!

The non-greeting

I was out doing some shopping the other day and went to our local outlet mall looking for a pair of athletic pants.  They are nothing more than fancy, dressy sweat pants but they are comfortable and as a matter of fact I was wearing a pair when I went into their makers store.

Image result for nike swoosh

I was greeted warmly by the greeter/security at the front of the store as I continued into the store looking for the pants.  There was an employee wandering in my general direction.  As he passed, without making eye contact or slowing down, he asked if I was doing okay. Without hearing my response, he continued on his way.

All I wanted to know was if they had the pants I was wearing in stock and where they might be located.  A transactional customer that was looking to make a quick purchase. Easy money.  But this employee did not have the inclination to greet me in a proper fashion.  In fact, I bet that if you had asked him, he would have said that he had properly greeted me and that I did not need any help.  I would like to think that he had been trained to greet customers as part of his on-boarding.  But his greeting did not count.  Other than giving him the peace of mind that he had greeted me, it was completely ineffective.

( I soon found what I was looking for and quickly made my purchase.)

Is it coaching?

img_1763I was straightening up my workspace this morning and ran across a sample of a coaching log.  The log had been developed by an experienced and talented store manager working for the company I worked at many years.

It was well produced with 50 pages to record when a manager coached and employee. I really liked the playbook and I hope that it improved coaching for the managers and their employees.  Perhaps it lead to better sales, improved service or more effective and efficient employees.

 

This was not the only coaching log that I saw while I working  in retail management and training.  In fact, I probably saw 50 different versions over the years.  But this one was a good one.

The reason why I bring this up is that it has been my experience that there is no correlation between good coaching  and the use of a coaching log.

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The Dance

discofox_grundschritt

I saw the two of them square off – the salesperson and the customer, the adversary and their opponent.  Even though I have seen this subtle encounter many times before, I never pass up a chance to watch.  For the Dance was about to begin.

What is the Dance?  It is the name that I gave to the movement that salespeople and their customers go through trying to find a comfortable place and distance to interact.

Typically when two people talk,  they stand approximately an arms distance away from one another.  If they are close friends, they may stand closer.  If there is a power differential between them, the person with less power may stand a bit further away.  The distance is never discussed by the talkers but rather it is set as the two talkers position themselves.

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Another way not to coach

by Polylerus

by Polylerus

I stopped in national chain store at the mall the other day, drawn in by the signs in by the many promotional signs in the window.

Standing near the front of the store, an employee was working with a customer as a smiling manager approached.  Without so much as an introduction, the manager asked the customer, “Did he mention the sales going on?”

“Not yet,” responded the somewhat bewildered customer.

Turning to the employee, the manager continued, “I can’t believe you haven’t mentioned the promotions even after our huddle this morning. Jesus!”

At this point, I didn’t want to see any more and left the store.  I think the customer was thinking the same thing.

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It’s the drugs talking

img_1738Several years ago, I saw a fascinating TV show on retailing. If my memory serves me correctly, it was called Buyology.  One of the most interesting segments reported on the stress of shopping and Holiday shopping especially.

When you are under significant stress, the body creates the steroid, cortisol, to help you deal with  the situation.  It is your body’s chemical behind the “fight or flight” mechanism.

Another characteristic of cortisol is that you can test a person’s cortisol level using a simple oral swab, so researchers went out and swabbed people’s mouths during stressful events to measure the stress caused by certain events.

The researchers tested combat pilots; it seems they have high stress levels in when being shot at.  (Only a governmental program would spend a lot of money to find that result.) They also tested Holiday shoppers at a major mall the weekend before Christmas.

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Recommended reading – Hiring Squirrels

hiring-squirrelsPeter Smith shares what he has learned, sometimes the hard way, in Hiring Squirrels 12 Essential Interview Questions to Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent.  He offers sound advice on attracting, interviewing and selecting the best possible salespeople for your retail store.

The book opens with his own personal tale of managing at Tiffany’s, yes, that Tiffany’s.  With great bravado, he stepped into an underperforming store with the idea that he knew exactly what to do to turn the store around.  You will have to read the book yourself for the rest of the story, but this simply tale was what hooked me into reading the rest of the book.  (I will be honest, I do not always read every chapter of the business books I buy.)

The key I took away from this opening chapter is that good retail managers recognize the individuality of the salespeople they employ. Just as all customer are unique people, so are our employees.  Successful managers know what characteristics to look for and nurture in potential sales people.

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S-B-I-A

The Acme Thunderer -The World's Finest Whistle

The Acme Thunderer -The World’s Finest Whistle

One advantage that athletic coaches have over sales managers is their whistle.  When an athletic coach blows the whistle, everything stops and people listen.  More than once I longed for my Acme Thunderer to get the attention of one of my employees when they were messing up on the sales floor.

Ongoing coaching is critical for the development of effective and efficient retail sale people. The ability of managers to effectively communicate with their employees about their performance is often the difference between success and failure of both the employee and the store.

With so many retailers feeling the squeeze on payroll, many store employees receive little or no training before they are set free on the sales floor to see to the needs of the customers.  With limited training, sales people are left to learn, typically through trial and error , on the floor.  With an attentive and observant manager that is willing to coach, the salesperson will develop much quicker.

That is where coaching and SBIA model come in.

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Parade rest at Finn’s Camera

Olympus OM-1 Image 2012 Olympus Corporation

Olympus OM-1
Image 2012 Olympus Corporation

Yes, I was in my high school photography club.  Of course, this was back when being a photographer meant using film cameras and processing and enlarging their own prints.  Early on in high school I recognized the power of the camera.  The power was not so much in the camera’s ability to record a moment in time but rather in its ability to get me out of class and serve as a universal hall pass under the guise of “getting pictures for the yearbook.” I successfully used this ruse for four full years.

I was introduced to the photo club by Steve D, a class mate that I met at new student orientation. He was already an avid photographer and had recently become a member of the photo club.  More importantly, he was the one that taught me about the power of the camera.  With Steve’s guidance, I was soon in the good graces of the faculty advisor for the photo club which gave me access to the school’s aging Rolleicord TLRs and Asahi cameras and the photo darkroom during my study hall.

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