Posted  26 Sep, 2017 
In: Articles

Experts say standing at your booth shows you’re ready and waiting for business. Engaging your customers in friendly conversation keeps them interested.

Originally published in the Fall 2017 Explore Local Field Notes E-Newsletter


It’s all about customers. If you know how to entice them, greet them, and engage them, you’ll likely sell to them. The following tips were extracted from an article in the October 2016 issue of the Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia Cooperative e-newsletter.

Greet your customers within 5-15 seconds.

If you are assisting another customer, make a point of acknowledging the next customer in line. A quick “Please excuse me for one moment” to the current customer followed by “I will be with you in just a moment” to the next customer, acknowledges the new customer and politely reminds the current customer that you are busy and they need to move along as soon as their sale is complete.

Avoid asking “Can I help you?”

If you greet a customer with “Can I help you?” you will undoubtedly receive the knee-jerk reaction, “No thanks, I’m just looking.” A customer arrives at your farm store, u-pick operation or farmers’ market stall because they have a perceived need that your products can satisfy. A simple “Welcome” or “Good Morning” – recognizes the customer and lets them know that you are available if they need your help.

Give your customers space.

Space is tight at farm direct market venues. Farmers’ market vendors especially don’t have the luxury of space in their assigned market stall. Your table, banners or other display props can help ensure personal space, but don’t hide behind your table. And never sit down or check your phone messages when customers approach. That tells them you are not interested in their business and sends them along to the next vendor or the farm store down the road. Rather, stand up to smile and greet the customer as they enter and lean in or approach them once you have a rapport, or are engaged in conversation. 

Show your customers that you recognize them.

If you know their name, use it! But recognizing a customer does not require knowing their name. “You’re back. Welcome” or “Good morning, nice to see you again.” Next, pause… When it feels comfortable, use a new product or your samples as a conversation starter to make a sale. An interesting fact about your business or a question that ties into one of your products are also good ways to get the conversation going and trigger a sale.

If you build it they may not come and buy.

You need to draw customers in to your market or farmers’ market stall and identify a need before they will buy. There are four key ingredients to successful direct farm marketing:

  • Product (fantastic, appropriate value and positioning, offers benefits that fill customer needs);
  • Personality (friendly, approachable, must like people);
  • Presentation (proper description, eye-catching displays and merchandizing – red in the centre draws the eye in and up, product height – waist-to-shoulder product placement, full product bins, varying heights within display, good lighting); and
  • Price (appropriate for target demographic, should reflect all components – value, cost of production, competitor’s price, customer demand).

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