Think about when you go into a dentist for the first time or a lawyer’s office, you probably don’t feel comfortable. What about when you go to a party and don’t know anyone? It’s human nature to feel more comfortable with the familiar. A customer in your store is a lot like taking someone into your home. First, you have to make them comfortable, introduce them, and handle their fears. Unless this person visits you everyday they won’t be in their comfort zone. Even if you were in their home, they’d be a little uncomfortable. People are “guarded” when they meet new people.
The first step to making people comfortable is the greeting. It sounds simple, but go out today and keep track of how many people say hello to you when you walk into their business.
When a person is guarded you can’t get on common ground. You have to assure your customer, address their fears and beliefs, and put them at ease. Remember that you are not in the product business, you are in the people business. A “guarded” customer to me indicates a good thing—not a bad thing—because the more guarded a customer shows they are likely a buyer.
Customers will often have complaints like, “I’m not buying anything today,” or, “I’m just looking,” when greeted by you. Don’t take it personally. Be positive when you hear these things. Acknowledge them and disregard them. Continue to show interest regardless of what you hear. You have to learn to handle these complaints, which are born out of the buyer’s beliefs and complicated by their fears—do not handle them like objections.
Often, a customer’s thinking goes, “I can’t trust him,” or, “He won’t tell me the truth”, but it actually has nothing to do with you. If you are telling the truth and they don’t believe you, it’s about the receiver not the giver. Even though it’s about them, it’s my problem so I need to be responsible to have control over the process and solve this problem of distrust.
The customer is thinking, “If I show interest they will pressure me to buy”, so they are protecting themselves. They are thinking, “it will take too long,” and that they don’t want to be stuck for 2 hours there in the store. They think, “I will feel obligated,” if they spend 2 hours with you looking at a product that they will have to do something with you. Until you handle these complaints you won’t be able to handle your customers.
You need to know that buyers fear making a decision, often more so than spending the money. Buyers fear getting ripped off, making a bad decision and feeling like a fool later. Your buyers fear financial insecurity, as if they can’t afford your product when they really can. Your buyers fear pressure, and they don’t want to be pressured. Buyers fear it will take too long. Buyers fear they will be obligated to reciprocate. Buyers fear they can’t say no.
The only way to put people at ease is to know what is going on with them.
Here are 4 simple steps to keep in mind as you greet each new customer:
1. Put your buyer at ease.
2. Understand why they say these complaints such as, “I’m not buying today”.
3. Know what people need to feel at ease.
4. Create responses to each complaint customers say to you in the greeting.
As I mentioned, your responsibility is to make people comfortable, introduce them, and handle their fears. This means you will need to find common ground. The dictionary defines common ground as, “the basis of mutual interests or agreement.” The key word is agreement. You can’t get on common ground if you disagree with people. Forget this idea that opposites attract. In selling, opposites never attract. It’s vital to gaining trust and control that you take the time to get on common ground.
Your big challenge is to get on common ground without wasting the customer’s time. Most salespeople go out of their way hunting for this thing called common ground. “Where do you live?”, “Where do you work?”, “Nice kids you got there.”—these are all hit or miss because they are not reasons people came. People don’t come in to talk about their kids or where they live. It’s not authentic. You must be authentic and genuine.
Think about what you have in common with everyone.
Common ground can include:
1. Wanting Information—They want it, you have it.
2. Getting in and out—you want that too.
3. Making a good decision—You also want to be sure they don’t make a bad decision.
4. Not being pressured—You don’t want to pressure them either.
5. Don’t want to waste time—You don’t want to waste yours either.
Address all the above to get on common ground during the greeting, which will turn your customer’s negative thoughts into positive thoughts.