The One Opener that Tripled Sales at a Furniture Store

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Most BrandSource members understand the importance of the sales opener — the initial greeting that potential customers receive when they first step foot in your store.

Whether it’s a handshake, the classic “Can I help you?” or some variation of “Is there anything in particular you’re looking for today?”, that first impression will set the tone for the rest of the customer-salesperson relationship, and may very well determine the outcome of the store visit.

Some dealers allow their salespeople to “wing it,” relying on their innate selling abilities and talent for “sizing up” shoppers. Others employ a pre-written script that all sales staff are instructed follow.

Jay Abraham, an author, speaker, consultant and top-five executive coach, favors the latter, and has actually conducted tests to determine the most effective sales opener. The result will surprise you.

Working on behalf of a furniture store client, he gave the sales team 33 different opening phrases and recorded the results of each interaction. The winning greeting? “What ad brought you into the store today?”

The use of that non-intuitive phrase tripled the number of units sold on average compared to any of the other 32 greetings. According to Abraham, the question worked because it told the salesperson exactly why the customer visited the store and what they wanted to buy, but in an innocuous way that didn’t put the shopper on the defensive. (It also let the store know which ads were working.)

But beyond boosting close rates, the big takeaway for Abraham was that every customer interaction, no matter how seemingly minor, can be tweaked for maximum effectiveness.  So whether it’s your store’s voicemail recording, the subject line in an email promotion, or even the firmness of a handshake, your sales team should be testing every customer touchpoint.

Hat tip to Inc. and Leverage co-founder Nicholas Sonnenberg.