This is the customer's first contact, both with the store and with an individual Sales Associate. There should be an initial greeting to acknowledge that the customer has entered the store; there also needs to be a more personal greeting that shows the customer that there is someone to assist them.
The “10-Second Rule”
Consider the customer's first 10 seconds in your store as the time that person spends making a quick decision about your company. Make sure someone offers at least a general greeting, even if from a distance (although we like the idea of a greeter at the front of the store, if possible). This 10 Second Rule is just the preview before the selling process begins.
Now let’s look at sales engagement using Participative Selling.
The “2-Minute Rule”
Within 2 minutes of the customer entering your store, let them know you are available to assist them. Never ask “Can I help you?” because this question will always get a conditioned response. Instead, use a phrase such as “Thank you for coming in today” or something similar, and then wait a few seconds for a response. Some customers feel like they will need more space; others will need immediate assistance. Your job is to help them feel “recognized” and to be available to them during the greeting.
To develop a stronger bond, introduce yourself to the customer and ask their name if you don't know it already. People value those who remember who they are by name; we all want to feel important. When was the last time someone cared enough in a retail environment to find out your name and introduce themselves to you? That, very simply, is the value. And what’s scarce is valuable. Your greeting can make the difference between a sale and a walk.