A good salesperson can take the measure of a customer in a glance. A great salesperson understands that "the goal is not just to sell a suit today - it's to build loyal customers for the future," says Shlomo Maor, associate vice president of training at Men's Wearhouse. Here are Maor's rules for turning reluctant shoppers into loyal clients.
Set the mood
"Empathy is the most important skill for a salesperson. Once you sense a customer's mood, you can change it. The average guy doesn't like to shop. But if you make an emotional connection, a transformation will take place. Emotions are contagious. If you're happy, optimistic, and open, you'll create happy, optimistic, and open customers - and those are the customers who buy."
Engineer the experience
"The customer doesn't care about who gets the commission. All he remembers is the store's atmosphere. That's why we use 'team selling.' One wardrobe consultant can offer the customer a cup of coffee; another can offer to press his clothing while he's in our dressing room; and another can take his kids to watch the videos we keep in some of our stores."
Don't stop at the sale
"The first time a customer walks into the store, he knows that you'll be nice. But when he returns to pick up his alteration, are you as enthusiastic and helpful as you were during the sale? How do you react when he comes to complain? Those times are what customers remember most."
A version of this article appeared in the October 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.