That awkward moment when you must walk up to a stranger and strike a conversation – we’ve all experienced it.

Remember your first day in college, trying to turn strangers into friends. You likely wondered what to do: is smiling creepy? Should I say hello first, or wait for someone to come to me? What questions should I ask to initiate a conversation? When should I check out?

All those questions are most likely to pop into your mind again and again, especially if you end up in a customer-facing job. Fortunately, our in-house specialists from the retail front-line are here to help!

Here’s what you can learn from the adidas retail pros:

Make your first impression a killer one

First impressions make all the difference:

And his secret weapon? Vikram is categorical: “It’s a smile that makes the magic”. In every store, dedicated staff members are greeting the consumers with a smile to start creating memorable moments right at the door. But what if your interlocutor is not smiling back? According to Janeen Anderson (US), there’s nothing like an ice breaker to deal with down people. “Making a joke like ‘How can I make you smile today?’ usually works.”

Connect with your consumers in a way they want

Every time she needs to connect with a consumer, Janeen first takes some time to observe: “I’m adapting my approach to each person, depending on their communication style”. Thanks to the service model ‘Connect Engage Inspire’, adidas retail teams are trained to demystify the consumer and deliver a personalized approach. If the visitor seems friendly and responsive, the sales associate will act casual. If he seems to be quiet and reserved, then the employee will be more conservative in their interaction.

According to Julian Montes (Chile), these communication and listening skills can be used everywhere: “The psychology I’ve learned on the floor is something I take everywhere with me, even without knowing it. I categorize my family and communicate with them in different ways. I evaluate service in other stores and I also use my skills to get a good deal with others!”

Man smiling with a projection behind him
Appearance is everything for Vikram Vishwanath Bangera who works out of our Dubai store.
woman smiling with projection behind her
This is the winning smile Janeen Anderson greets customer with and uses as an ice-breaker to engage better with consumers.
Man with crossed arms smiling with a projection behind him
Julian Montes helps staff grow in confidence by encouraging them to wear their favourite team’s jersey to work. “We all need to feel like a star player sometimes.”
Woman smiling with a proection behind her
Fanny Wang from China always wants the best for the customer as they embark on a new sporting or fashion adventure.
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Engage with a shared passion

Discovering and then engaging consumers with a shared passion is the key to spark a meaningful conversation: “Japanese consumers are shy and not very talkative, but I try to find their hidden passion. I focus on the sport they are buying for, not just the product. What does it do for you, how does it make you feel?” Mayu Kuwabara (Japan)

Julian agrees, and adds: “You can build relationships by taking an interest in what they need the product for rather than just the product. I want to know how the runner got on in his first half marathon and if the local U15 team won the Cup final and I remember these stories to develop relationships with my customers.”

Woman with a projection behind her
It’s clear there are huge differences with how people in various parts of the world want to be treated when they first meet a store assistant and that’s some that we respect and deliver on explains Hannah Kim of Korea.
Man smiling with a projection of shoes behind him
I love sports and so it’s easy for me to share stories with customers about their recent results or club’s performance. Connecting on this level is vital to give memorable customer service says Sven Mrongovius of Germany.
Woman smiling with projection behind her
Lydia Adriana of Singapore has developed her customer relations skills over many years on the shop floor and uses this experience to strike up lasting relationships with consumers.
Man smiling with a projection behind him
As customers we all communicate and engage in different ways and that needs to mirrored by staff across our stores says Dmitriy Vyznikov of Russia.
Woman smiling with a projection behind her
Mayu Kuwabara takes on a sports ambassador role at our store in Japan inspiring consumers to join her in fitness classes and on runs.
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Be honest

By keeping the consumer at the very center of everything they do, our retail staff bring their authentic self to every interaction they have. A true shared passion for sports is the centerpiece of the relationships between sales associates and consumers. Lying or misleading won’t do the trick.

When consumers try products and ask for your opinion, be honest.

Are you dealing with consumers every day? Help us by sharing your own tips and tricks on how to connect with the customers in the comments below!

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by Sam 23.02.2017
The key to customer/client success is to have geinuine empathy. Understanding WHAT they want is important, figuring out WHY they need it is a game changer. Also, it helps to be passionate about what you do, clients feed off of and make decisions based on your energy and communication, both verbal and nonverbal. Good Vibes!
by Jessica Theroux Sam 24.02.2017
I couldn't agree more with you, Sam!
by D 06.03.2017
Love the comments on "Connect with your consumers in a way they want".

I myself find that the best way to provide great experiences is to open a dialogue about anything whether it's sport, fashion or music. Everyone has something they'd like to share with you.