Receptionist Selling. Is your front desk person in sales?

Receptionist Selling. Is your front desk person in sales?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

We walked into the Pacific News in Honolulu, Hawaii. Our mission was to get them to run my weekly column on selling skills. We were 10 minutes early.

The receptionist, Lynn Liao was happy to see us. We got a very warm greeting, an offer of coffee, and were given the most recent edition of their paper. We were also reassured that the person we came to meet would be on time, and not to worry. (Remember now, I’m selling them.)

My associate and I began talking about another business we needed to contact later that morning. One minute later Lynn handed us a typewritten paper with the company’s name and phone number on it. WOW! This woman was paying attention.

We began to make social talk (where are you from, what do you do) with Lynn. It’s easy for people from North Carolina to talk about how wonderful Hawaii is, and Lynn (a native of the islands) jumped right in.

After the talk died down, Lynn went back to work (we thought) and we went back to waiting. Lynn reappeared and presented my associate with flowers for her hair. Lynn had picked them from her garden that morning. WOW! (Two wow’s in one 5-minute span.)

Feeling really “at home” now, I said, “Tell me a little about Tom (Tom Jensen, the editor we had a meeting with.) “Oh he’s so nice and real easy going,” Lynn said. “You’ll really like him, everyone does.”

Just then Tom walked in the door.

In ten minutes, we had been greeted, given a paper, offered coffee, given a phone number of another contact, given flowers, told about the personality of the person we were trying to sell, and in general made to feel special. The receptionist had set the tone for a positive meeting.

How does your receptionist handle your guests? Are they an ambassador of goodwill, or blasé (even annoyed) at visitors, especially salespeople?

How will people talk about you when they leave your place of business? If you are memorable, what’s the impact? Positive experiences get retold. Often. Ten times if you’re real memorable. (So do negative ones 25 times)

If your receptionist sees and WOW’s 5 people a day and their story is retold 10 times, that’s 50 positive messages about your company a day, 250 a week, 1000 a month, 12,000 a year! Wouldn’t it be great if 12,000 people or businesses a year were told what a great place you had and how royally your receptionist treated them? How many sales would that good will cause? Plenty.

Here are 11.5 things you (your receptionist) can employ to create talked about goodwill…

  1. Make every guest feel personally welcome. A big hello, his or her name on a welcome board, a name badge. Make the guest feel important.
  2. Make every guest an offer of something. Coffee, tea, etc.
  3. Listen to what is being asked for or said. Get their name, business card and needs.
  4. Be immediate. Often guests are on a tight schedule, or want to be “on time.” Pay them the immediate and complete attention they deserve.
  5. Listen to or make conversation if the guest(s) must wait. Create a friendly environment.
  6. Respond. Participate in a way that is nonintrusive. Offer help if the situation calls for it.
  7. Be a resource. Give the guest the inside scoop (without violating any corporate confidences).
  8. Be proactive. Anticipate situations. Do things that make the guest feel special.
  9. Be yes. Try to figure out a way to accommodate, rather than intimidate. Don’t break the policies of your company, but bend them as far as you dare in the name of building good feelings.
  10. Be reassuring. If people are waiting. Check on their status every few minutes. Tell them it won’t be long now. Smile. Offer more stuff. Smile again.
  11. Be an ambassador for your company. When the guest sits in your waiting area, the receptionist is the only representative of the company they see. The guest sees the receptionist as the barometer for what’s inside. The receptionist controls the weather. Make it a sunny day.

11.5 Be WOW! Have something that makes the visit to your company memorable. It doesn’t have to be big just memorable a flower, some homemade cookies. Something a guest will talk about after they leave.

Success Tactic: Make it evident that you like what you do, and are proud of your company. Set the tone from the first 5 seconds. It doesn’t matter if the guest is buying or selling. Every guest carries a message back outside.

After we completed our meeting at the Pacific Business News, we needed a cab to our next destination. We asked Lynn where the easiest place to get a cab. She said, “You sit right down, and I’ll call you a TAXI.”

Lynn Liao is an exceptional receptionist. She cares about her business and the people who visit it. She creates goodwill and a positive image of the Pacific Business News every time someone walks in the door. WOW!

How do you get such a receptionist, you ask? You start with a happy person, you train them and encourage them.



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