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Connecting with the modern-day customer

By Brian Barfield

76768538-mainA sales pitch has unlimited potential—it may be quick, easy, and effortless. But it may also be a long-winded, drawn-out marathon. The final outcome is going to be based solely on whether you truly connected with your customer or not. From the moment he or she walks through the door, your actions set the course of the current sales process, as well as the future sales process, that is, if they choose to shop with you again.

For those of you who did your homework in reading ‘The Four Basic Customer Types’ series, I’m sure you could see there was an ultimate goal by design. By taking care of your customers’ individual needs, you have the potential to turn each of them into a ‘simple-minded customer.’ Once the bond of trust is established and the customer knows you have their best interest in mind, sales become easy and almost effortless. This is the way to build your customer base and create an environment that makes selling fun.

Now you have a clear vision of what true and lasting success will look like. However, achieving such success takes a lot of hard work and effort. So today we will start by focusing on the customer who is shopping at your store for the very first time. Every new customer who enters your store is walking into the unknown. Some may be guarded, wondering if they will be pounced on or cheated. Others may appear confident, although fear and insecurity are bringing out the worst in them. The bottom line is the modern-day customer has been trained by negative experiences to not trust you.

The first priority in assisting your customer is to overcome their fear and establish a connection that opens the lines of communication. You do this by offering a service benefiting them, such as cleaning their jewellery for free while they browse. This allows them the necessary time to adjust to their surroundings and begin to relax. If they decline, offer a beverage while they shop. These simple things assure the customer you are there to serve them and it sets the tone for the sales process.

The old-school training would go something like this: “Okay, Michelle, I’ll clean the customer’s jewellery, while you see if you can sell her.” Today’s customer is no longer naïve or stupid. They see right through that and you are worse off than you were to begin with. I like my customers to see me working for them with no pressure or gimmicks. This creates obligation; the customer feels obligated to shop with you, even when they are not purchasing that day.

Other ways I offer service is finding a customer’s need and addressing it. For instance, the watch they are wearing might be too big on them. Offering to take a few links out for free while they shop goes a long way. If the client is shopping for an anniversary gift, I will go the extra mile and buff their band while they browse. This is a need they did not even know existed. You may even notice a bent prong or ring shank that is out of round and have your bench jeweller fix it. The list goes on and on. In my seminars, people are amazed how many little things you can find to serve your customer. All you have to do is stop and think.

Another way to establish a connection with your customer is to make them laugh or smile. When a couple walks in together and I introduce myself, I always follow it up with this: “Bill, I am here to make this process as painless as possible for you.” Instant smile every time! It is little things like this that relax your customer and begin to establish a bond of trust. Sometimes I actually tell the customer, “You’re the boss. I work for you.”

As you can see, the common theme is letting the customer know you are there to serve them. When you learn to do these little things well, the ‘just looking’ customer opens up to you like never before.

There is a way to fix the problem that we as an industry created. In order to do so, you must first understand and see it with clarity.

Many years ago, we created a concept called ‘the sales tactic,’ which was intended to be good. Over time, these methods became fueled by greed, which disconnected us from our customers. Instead of focusing on our clients, we began focusing more on the dollar amount and commissions. Those tactics worked well for a season, until the customer decided they no longer wanted to be treated like that. This has led to years of ‘sales associate versus customer scenario’ and the sales floor has become a grind of relentless stress and pressure. Those who have worked in the industry for a long time can testify to this.

In closing, I will leave you with the final ingredients to help you connect with your customer, namely passion and energy. When a client enters your store, do they hear the excitement in your voice? Do they feel the energy and enthusiasm you give in your hustle to work for them? Can they see the desire you possess within to take care of them? If not, it’s time to change that.

It is my hope this article has opened your eyes to see the new opportunity you have to make your sales career more fun, meaningful, and successful. Happy selling!

This article is based on the book, “Modern Day Selling: Unlocking your Hidden Potential,” by Brian Barfield. For more information, visit his website at or e-mail him at

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