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Selling Furniture & Mattresses – Why I Developed My Secret Greeting

One of my more popular videos is titled “Secret Greeting”. To view it just click here It has almost 25,000 views. The most frequent comment that I hear is, “This works great!” The most common question I get is, “What caused you to develop this greeting?”

I worked in a very competitive retail environment where there were many furniture and mattresses stores congregated in a very tight geography. Our customers were often eager to brush off the retail salesperson approaching them. Some of which even put their hand up like a stop sign. A lot of things have changed but I hear from my RSAs that customers still do this. I developed the Alternate of Choice Greeting to relax both the retail customer and the salesperson while at the same time offering friendly service as a choice.

The store I worked at advertised well, merchandised well, and offered great value and service. Usually if we could establish a good rapport with the customer we could close the sale. The challenge was finding a greeting that would help us do that. The Alternate of Choice Greeting offers the customer a choice between just looking around or being directed to an item or category of items. When greeting the customer after welcoming them to the store I would ask, “Would you like to just look around or is there something I could direct you to?” The reason the greeting works so well is they are offered a choice that is extremely non threatening. If they chose to look around I very quickly gave them an overview of the store and let them know my name and that I would check back with them. If they opted for some direction I would give them as much information as they wanted while I asked a few questions to determine their needs and wants.

The reason this greeting works so well is it allows the customer to relax. As soon as they hear that they can just look around they instantly relax and realize that this salesperson and store are exactly what they have been looking for. By asking the customer if they want to look around you are giving them the idea that they may actually have a little control of the retail experience instead of being led around and told what they want. This in turn will give them a better shopping experience. The most surprising outcome when you are comfortable with this greeting is how many customers will ask for assistance. This greeting worked great in the mid eighties and still works great today.

My sales manager at Kronheim’s Furniture was very frustrated after being completely blown off by a customer. He walked over to me red faced and exclaimed, “If they would only tell me what they are looking for I could save them both time and money!” He agreed to try the Alternate of Choice Greeting after I explained it to him. It dramatically increased his sales. He was a creative problem solver who had more industry and product knowledge than any other salesperson I had ever met. The one thing that held him back was a successful greeting. Once he addressed that his sales literally exploded! What one thing if improved would increase your sales? If your greeting is working for you please stick with it; if it’s not please try this. I know it will work for you.

Action Step- Thank you to Allen Landeau who contributed to this article. Please post your comments or questions. I answer them all. Also please post your favorite greeting. For more ideas or to share successes please call me at 419-560-3169 or email me at

Wishing You Success,

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Comments (5)

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  1. Marina Klima says:

    I know exactly what you are talking about. When I worked at Ethan Allen, a good greeting was very similar to what you recommend. It was a casual, “hi, my name….please look around and if you have questions, I will check with you later.” But then you do not really “check”, you just start a conversation with a comliment or a question. Also you watch body language, other things-you know why they are in the store.

  2. Jerry Young says:

    I’m working at a store that just opened so there is a lot of foot traffic just stopping to see who we are.
    I tried this approach and had a lot of success with it. It let the browsers and got the actual shoppers to let me help them. Thanks Pete!

  3. Byron H. says:

    Another great piece of advice!

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