I went to Best Buy once to take advantage of a great deal on a TV and game console. The sales person said that unfortunately, they’d already sold out of the TV’s. I didn’t have an alternative in mind, nor did the kid suggest one, so I left. Classic story, right?
The next day, having thought about it, I returned to scope out what they still had on sale, because I was still in the market for a new TV, even without a game system. The sales guy remembered and greeted me but then left me to browse and never returned. The third day, I had decided to purchase one of the TV’s, so I returned again.
This time, a manager approached. He realized it was my third day in a row to be there and wanted to know if he could help. I explained about the ad and told him which TV I was ready to buy. He frowned for a second, then proceeded to put together a package with my new TV, and the game system, and a new TV stand – which turned out to be a better deal!
Wait, another story.
Once upon a time, a friend of mine had a cushy job in a semi-casual work environment and let his hair grow kinda long. On weekends, like many of us, he dressed casual. One weekend, he went to a mall jewelry store. This was before I knew him, but I can guess that his appearance may have leaned toward ratty.
Anyway, the staff pretended to ignore him. Receiving no acknowledgment, he went across the way to another jewelry store. At the second store, he was immediately welcomed and a sales person began assisting him. He made a moderate purchase of a few thousand dollars – cash.
The sales person asked if there was anything else. My friend asked him to call the first store and let them know about the transaction. The sales person actually did: for the first time, the first store actually looked at my friend – with the knowledge that they’d missed out on an easy sale and commission.
People in sales are often taught to assume the sale. It supports a positive attitude. However, people as human beings often make very different assumptions. In my case, the sales person assumed that a) they didn’t have what I originally came to the store for, so b) I wouldn’t be interested in anything else. In my friend’s case, the staff assumed that a) he didn’t appear to be a paying customer, so b) he wasn’t even worth a civil greeting.
Humans are social creatures. Among social animals, one of the most extreme behaviors is shunning or ignoring. It’s like bullying without doing anything. It’s almost passive aggressive.
Both these stories illustrate how important engagement is. If people visit your shop or even your website, a polite greeting is the bare minimum. While many people don’t like being sold to, they don’t mind friendly engagement. Use those people-reading skills and start a conversation once in a while – not about shopping, but about things that help you make a connection and maybe establish a relationship. Because the assumption of a relationship is customer loyalty. And who doesn’t like that?