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Brick & Mortar Marketing: The most important sales person—the Greeter

Updated on November 24, 2016
Welcome to my home...Glad to see you
Welcome to my home...Glad to see you | Source

How Many Customers

In your place of business, how many customers come through your doors each day?

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“Uh, down the hall to the left…”

When you invite someone into your home, do you simply put a sign on the front door that reads, “Door’s open, come in, bathroom is down the hall to the left”…“next”… No, of course not! You are more likely to meet your guest at the door, open it wide for them, smile, offer to take their coat, look them in the eyes, and then follow it with a welcoming gesture or comment expressing how you are pleased to see them.

What about when your guest leaves? Do you simply point to the door and then quickly turn off the porch light? Again, unless you are just an idiot, of course not! If you did, do you think your guest would want to come back again, or do you think they maybe they would be more inclined to warn somebody else about their bad experience?

If you don’t do it at home, don’t let it happen in your business. In fact, take it one step further. A simple and natural approach can make a big difference that translates to both sales now and in the future. The ‘Greeter’ can be your most important sales person, or your competitor’s best ally. Treat your customers as welcomed guest and the word of mouth marketing will multiply…all it takes is the right greeter.

Wal-Mart Willie

I Love My Job

Types of Greeters

What works for one, would do just the opposite for another. For instance, if you walk into a restaurant and are greeted by a host/hostess who gives you a “high-five” instead of welcoming you and tantalizing you with the days selection of specials, you would probably think that person has tasted one to many ‘specials’ from the bar. On the other hand, walking into a Wal-Mart and meeting “Willie” may put you in a better mood for shopping.

“The Willie”

Although the video interview to the right isn’t of the best quality, it serves to show how using a highly effective people oriented character such as Willie can add to a brand building experience for both young and old.

“The Passion Player”

Again, another video from an interview at a Wal-Mart. This time, a demonstration of a greeter who not only understands his job, but is very passionate about it and about the business he works for. Take note how this gentleman constantly scans for incoming customers and breaks the interview by refocusing his attention.

“The Butler

Unlike the “In-your-face” approach to greeting, the Butler is purposefully staunch and professional. He transfers an air of eloquence to his surroundings, is cordial, polite and respectful. He/She makes for great type of greeter for high end restaurants and fine clothing. His very poise creates a status attitude which shows up in the form of tips or upgraded purchases.

“The Librarian”

The Librarian is well dressed, pleasant, and informative. This type of greeter knows where everything is in your store, is very directional, and is very good at interviewing customers and knows how to ask “the right questions”. An important part of what a librarian does is to remind customers of additional purchase possibilities of things not already on their list. The librarian also has a great memory and can recognize repeat customers, many times by name. The librarian creates customer loyalty and on the business side, is an ideal person to ask questions of when merchandising or marketing strategies are developed.

When to Use a Greeter

There are two main times in which to use a greeter: When the business is busy, and when it is not. The attitude of “greeting” needs to be a mindset of every sales person, every stock person, and practiced every time a customer walks through your doors. Now of course, that is not to say that there are not times that you may choose to designate a dedicated greeter for a specific time or at a specific location especially during special events or campaigns to drive new traffic.

Sample Greeter Schedule

New Products
Saturdays Event
Saturdays Event
Saturdays Event
Candle Club
Gift Cards

A Greeter Schedule gives your sales staff a chance to prepare. Remind all your staff that "greeting" is all day long and everybody is a greeter. Check with your greeter with customer feedback.


Meet, Greet, and Eat

When I first meet with a group of sales associates, one of the first “exercises” I get them involved with is a ‘meet, greet, and eat party’. It is both fun, and at times, funny. It takes about two hours and is usually done at close of business. The resulting effect of this simple training session creates a long lasting sales approach which can be quickly measured even after implementing for only one day. A typical meet, greet, and eat session looks like this:

  1. Introduction to greeting: During the initial part of the meeting, we openly discuss the temperament of customers who visit. We give examples of difficult customers, pleasant customers, and situations that led to gaining a sale and losing a sale. We emphasize that every employee is a “greeter” both before and after the sale.
  2. Role play bad: Next, we take turns being a greeter and being a hard to deal with customer. We have some fun by being a “bad” greeter and purposefully say and do things to give our customer a bad and memorable experience.
  3. Role play good: Here’s where the magic happens. It doesn’t take much prodding or instruction. After role playing bad approaches, your staff is already thinking how to make it them good. It is interesting to watch “styles” come to life. This simple role playing practice becomes instilled and the value of the greeter is permanently established.
  4. Review and reward: There will be laughter and an openness to discuss both the reasons why some approaches worked and why some didn’t. Now is the time to take notes. Not only will the importance of effective greeting be established, but also “ideas” to make it work even better. At this point, provide a reward. It could be as simple as cake and cookies, or a more elaborate sandwich spread. I’ve experimented with handing out physical rewards for the "most" entertaining, "best" librarian, and "worst" customer...comic relief does more than make your staff creates an openess for sharing ideas and spurning sales.

Exit, stage right

The skill of effective greeting is not complete without also looking at the “exiting” customer. To complete the experience of your customers, never let them leave without “something” even if they didn’t buy anything. The start of the next sale happens the moment they leave your store. Never think of a customer as “leaving”, treat your customers as you would a departing and welcomed guest in your home… Consider the following before your customer exits:

  • Thank you: Every Customer, Every Time
  • Ask: “Did you find everything you were looking for?”
  • Give: Brochure, a coupon, parting gift
  • Memory: The biggest part of branding is creating a memory
  • Smile: Just like a Thank you, smiles are free

Your Favorite Kind of Store Greeter

What kind of greeter to you most enjoy when you enter a store?

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Key Points to Remember

  1. Every Staff Member is both a sales person and a greeter
  2. Treat your customers as welcomed house guest
  3. A greeter is needed every hour your store is open
  4. The phone is connected to the front door
  5. More than one style of greeting works
  6. The exit is as important and the entrance
  7. Practice makes perfect—role playing helps

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About the Author

Joel has a unique passion for Small Retail Business Marketing and has developed campaigns that have proven successful for over 30 years. Driving traffic and concentrating on methods that encourage growth by crafting new approaches to enhancing customer service and satisfaction has been his stock in trade. Joel works as an independent retail consultant and values the relationships he has established by helping small businesses become leaders in local commerce. Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments below.


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