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“…That's Not What They Pay Me For”

On the way home the other day I stopped to get an after dinner dessert. As I waited in line I was watching the other people around me and noticed that they were generally happy, smiling and talking with whomever they came in with, or the person next to them. But, as they got to the register they became very quiet and the smile disappeared.

I focused my attention to the server and quickly surmised the problem. The server was solemn, no smile, didn’t greet the customer, didn’t even make eye contact. The server may as well have thrown a bucket of cold water on the formerly happy customers. Their smiles disappeared and conversation ceased. They paid, picked up their purchase and left without saying a word. I also noticed a few other “turn-offs”; a couple of visible tattoos, a lip and a tongue piercing, and dark eye make-up to name a few. Rightly or wrongly, you are judged by your appearance, your actions and the company you keep. She wore a T-shirt imprinted with what I assumed was a store slogan, which basically said “smile, be happy”.

I was curious as to why she had such a poor attitude, so as I approached the cash register I asked if she was having a bad day, to which she replied (without looking up), that it was busy and she wanted to go home. In an attempt to coerce a smile, I said “maybe you just need to follow the instructions on your T-shirt”, to which she responded, “they don’t pay me for that”. I assumed that “they” referred to her boss or the store owner.

I think you’ll agree that this young lady is wrong on so many levels!! She doesn’t understand that “they” actually refers to you and me, the customer. I (the customer) pay her. The owner of the store merely handles the money. I (the customer) have a choice where I spend my money, and I choose to spend it at an establishment where I am greeted with a smile, and am treated like I’m special, and like their job depends on me …because it does. I (the customer) can fire him/her, his/her manager, the CEO and/or the owner of the store, any time I choose to …simply by taking my business somewhere else.

As a business owner you’re aware that if I buy something from you one time, it doesn’t make me a customer. A customer does repeat business with an establishment and repeat business is dependent on building trust and rapport. If the first impression you make “stresses” me (the customer), any opportunity you had to sell your product or service has just been totally closed off. You know the saying: “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression”.

Does the initial language of trust have to be verbal? NO! The first impression you deliver is based on your body language, (movements, gestures, facial expression and eye contact), the tone of your voice, and respect for the customer’s space. Other factors which influence the buying decision are your appearance, clothes, smell, enthusiasm and posture. You have to get past this initial impression in order to get on with developing a relationship with your prospect. Read the following over and over until it clicks:

Professor Albert Mehrabian of UCLA broke communication down into three “V’s” as follows:

1. Verbal: The message itself …the words you use.
2. Voice: The sound of your voice …intonation, projection, pitch and speed.
3. Visual: Posture and gestures …facial expressions and eye movement. (Body language)

He then measured the effectiveness of each component and its contribution to believability. These are the results:

1. Verbal: 7%
2. Voice: 38%
3. Visual: 55%

So, what does this tell us and how does it relate to your business? Look again at the above percentages, they say it all. Since the sale of your product or service is dependent largely on the initial impression the prospect gets from you or your sales team, you can increase the odds of making the sale by greeting your prospect with a smile, a clean, neat appearance, and a friendly voice. Your focus is to pass the initial impression stage so that you are allowed the opportunity to develop and build rapport. The words themselves are not that important, a simple “Hi, how are you today,” is a good ice breaker.

In a word; hire for attitude, you can teach procedure, but you can’t teach attitude. Need some incentive? Ask yourself this question: “how much money am I losing because of a bad first impression”?

Want to be known as the best? Then hire only the best. Train your team well, and measure the impact on your conversion rate (single purchaser or repeat customer). By the way, had she smiled and greeted me the other “turn-offs” would not even have been noticed. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first time I’ve had that kind of experience in that store … but it was the last.

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About the Author

Sieg Weber, SRW Business Consulting
PO Box 7333
Redlands, CA 92375

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