Do you appreciate new business? If you’re like most professionals, the answer is a resounding “yes!” First impressions are important, but how are you treating walk-in business who have not made an appointment with you?

Are you giving walk-ins the time they deserve, or are you too busy to see them? Is there a disconnect between your need for new business with your ability to welcome, connect and engage unexpected prospective clients.

First, let’s think about the energy needed to convert a lead to an in-person tour. Qualifying the lead, emailing back and forth, maybe a voicemail or two, the wooing, now hosting a virtual tour, setting up a time that works for you both, confirming said appointment, all to have maybe 10% of them cancel or not show. With all that considered, what is the average salesperson’s reaction to the news, “there’s a walk-in in the lobby?”

Cue the cheers from the sales team. Just kidding!

The predictable reaction is quite confusing. If you haven’t heard an “I can’t take someone now,” caught glimpse of an eye role or heard a frustrated sigh, color me impressed. Also, I don’t believe you.

For some unfathomable reason, venue salespeople categorically hate walk-ins.

Sales hasn’t done anything at all to deserve a walk-in’s time. They are basically a GIFT off the street, and most often ready to buy.

Walk-ins are future clients

This past weekend, my family and I went to Lancaster, PA for a last-minute getaway. I am a vacation researcher! I love to look up what others have gushed over, and on this trip, I let TikTok be my guide. The list of all the places found in fun, curated videos included must go places for brunch and dinner, a planetarium, shopping, and some general family-fun. Nick, the kids and I always vote on what we want to do when we go away, so we hit something for everyone.

This specific trip I was constantly reminded how imperative it is to train your staff that first impressions are important. There is a true need for coaching your receptionist/host/sales assistant on the art of making guests feel welcomed from the very first interaction.

We didn’t have formal reservations anywhere.

First dinner spot, a popular ramen noodle restaurant in the downtown historic district. We entered and noticed the packed dining room. I always take that as a good sign. “Dinner for 4 please.” No reply. When the host picked up the menus and walked away, we gathered the expectation was for us to follow. The server greeting our table didn’t even get a breath between the hello and “do you know what you want because the kitchen is closing in 20 minutes.” It was 7:30PM on a Friday night. Even though the food was delicious, for us, the whole experience was ruined. At 8:00PM, they shut the music off with 4 tables sitting. We were out the door by 8:15, bellies full but still hungry for some hospitality.

The next morning, we went to a local comfort food master called Gracie’s on Main. Oh. My. Bacon! Was this different. The place was hopping, and the hostess asked with a smile if we had reservations. When I replied no, she said “we are glad you are here.” We were treated amazingly at every turn, and the food… pearl clutch, thank you TikTok. From start to finish, we were made to feel like they were grateful we chose to have breakfast with them.

On our ride back to the Hudson Valley, Nick, the girls and I listed all the friendly people we met on our trip. The wonderful women at The Beadworks who made us feel right at home as the girls made custom jewelry. The nicest salesgirl at Taylor Chip Cookies, who not only recommended the best cookies but also fun things to do in the area. The lovely server at Max’s Eatery, who asked if we had ever been there before, and walked us through what they were known for, even though it looked like a crazy brunch shift. And finally the kind man at Pepper Lane Fudge & Sweets, who immediately offered amazing fudge samples as we walked in, asked where we were from, and upon learning Poughkeepsie, was over-the-moon thrilled to talk about his son attending the Culinary Institute of America, just like Nick.

Max's Eatery in Lancaster, PA

Max’s Eatery in Lancaster, PA

The entire weekend, we were walk-ins.

Those remembered, and are now recommending, used authentic sales techniques to establish connection, whether they were conscious of it or not.

  • Expecting the unexpected
  • Gratitude and graciousness
  • Establishing trust by highlighting other wonderful businesses outside of your own
  • Suggestive selling through education
  • Set people at ease by treating them as a guest in your home
  • People like people like them- the Law of Similarity

Walk-ins are future clients who are so interested in your space and services, they decided not to wait one more moment, they must visit your venue right now.

I challenge you to step up your walk-in game.

Greet those people in the lobby with warmth and excitement, like the gift that they are. Don’t assume anyone around you knows that importance. Bring it up at your next sales meeting. Make it a service step.

I cannot tell you how many wedding day hugs and conference week conversations I have had with hosts recalling the first time they met when they “just walked in off the street.”

To learn more about teaching your team why first impressions are important and how to make the most out of a walk-in situation, you are in the right place!

Schedule a chat with Margaret Brower

My specialty is hospitality sales, but my passion has always been the psychology of sales. I have loved and lived the life of a results-driven Director of Sales, and in that time developed a sales program with a two-fold leadership approach, skill development and human development.

Schedule a call with Margaret and learn how Rainmaker will bring that know-how and strategy to your company.