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Working on a Busy Floor with Limited Staff During this season
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Understanding The Verbal Contract: Working Two Customers at Once
Everyone is running lean right now, so how will you handle these opportunities?
In many retail selling situations, particularly with small, high-priced items such as jewelry CBD/cannabis, or eyewear, security measures must be taken into consideration. But even in an environment like Kitchen and Bath, Shoes or Furniture, you cannot physically serve two customers at once, but in most cases, there is a way out that can result in sales to each one.
Let’s dive into a not-so-hypothetical situation that I think we have ALL experienced at least once. Suppose that you are working with Customer A and Customer B enters the store. You have to acknowledge Customer B. If you don’t, he/she may leave without anyone saying hello. This represents a loss in potential business and to be blunt its just plain rude. Yet, your allegiance is to Customer A. So…what do you do?
The Verbal Contract
So you want to help/acknowledge Customer B, but how do you excuse yourself without angering Customer A? You do so with a lot of love and care. You ask Customer A, “Would you do me a favor,” to which they always reply, “Yes.”
“Can you hang on for just a moment while I say hello to that customer? I’ll be right back. Will that be okay?”
You will actually hear Customer A say “Yes.” In a sense, Customer A has contracted with you to stay put.
Now, you walk over to Customer B and say, “How are you doing? Can you do me a favor?” This greeting serves both as your opening line and sets up Customer B for a verbal contract. He’ll give you a perplexed look and be thinking, “I don’t know if I want to do you a favor, I just walked into the store.” Incredibly, however, the customers always say “Okay.”
You then say, “Can you hang on for just a minute? I’m finishing with that customer over there and then I’ll be right with you. Will that be okay?” If Customer B says, “Yes,” which happens frequently, then he’s made a verbal contract with you. He won’t leave. He’ll stay in the store because he told you he would.
Understandably, some customers will say, “No, I’ve got to get going,” or “I’m going next door and I’ll check back later,” or the like. But most will say, “Yes.” If a customer does say “No, I don’t have a lot of time,” you may be able to glance around the store to see if anyone else is available or will be available soon, and you can signal that team member to assist that client next.
When attempting to handle two customers, using the verbal contract yields far greater results than what usually happens in retail selling:
The salesperson is serving Customer A. Customer B enters the store. The salesperson turns around to Customer B and says, “I’ll be right with you,” then he turns back to Customer A and soon after, learns that Customer B has departed.
For review, let’s walk through a Verbal Contract scenario:
Salesperson: Well it looks like we are all set, ill take these items to the register to get your all ringed up.
Customer A: Great thank you for your help with everything.
Salesperson: Absolutely! That’s what I’m here for. (Spots Customer B.) Could you excuse me for just a minute? I want to let this gentleman know that I’ll be with him shortly. Is that all right?
Customer A: Sure.
Salesperson: Thanks. (Approaches Customer B.) Hi, could you do me a favor? I’m finishing up with that lady right now and I will be with you in just a minute. Is that all right?
Customer B: Okay.
Salesperson: Thanks. (Returns to Customer A.) Just need your payment method and you will be on your way.
Customer A: I think my sister will really enjoy this tablecloth for her party.
Salesperson: From what you’ve told me, I know it will be perfect. Say, could you excuse me for one second? I want to let that young lady know I’ll be with her as soon as you and I are through. Is that all right?
Customer A: Sure.
Salesperson: Thanks. (Walking over to Customer B.) Hello there! Could you do me a favor? I’m just finishing up with that lady over there, and I will be with you in just a few moments. Will that be all right?
Customer B: Okay.
Salesperson: Thank you. (Returning to Customer A.) I am going to ring you up right over here, and you’ll be on your way to that party!
The verbal contract works because you are asking people to grant you a small favor using great courtesy. I’ll bet you can achieve a favorable outcome the first time you use it.
When you are understaffed or extra busy in your store, opportunities can easily slip away. One thing we have learned in Retail during this pandemic is EVERY opportunity matters. Most customers simply want to be acknowledged and feel like they have been seen or heard. Doing so will give you time to manage your floor without LOSING the customer who walks in.
If this scenario is something you have personally experienced in your store, and you know you want to be better at engaging with customers, FriedmanU offers a full online training course on Professional Salesmanship and Customer Service. Our goal is to turn every salesperson into a Rockstar for their company.