Sincerity Of Regard
There is a Chinese saying that “the eyes are the window of the soul”. That is why in many traditions, looking at someone straight in the eyes is the sign of trust. When you shake hands, when you toast, any important moment of commitment is accompanied with a frank, sincere exchange of looks.
The way you look, the expression on your face, says much more than you may be aware. When you are under stress (for example during a price negotiation), you look different and customers do see it! The same goes for your customers: there are many messages that you can “sense” coming from his or her look, especially the change of expressions that might occur.
Customers tend to not look at the sales advisor at the beginning of a visit. They generally only pay attention to the new environment (some boutiques might be intimidating) and the products. After some interaction, when the sales advisor is able to attract the customer’s attention, then the customer might start to observe the sales advisor more seriously. It is only from that moment that the true interaction starts.
Not looking at your customer might be perceived as avoidance, escaping or not telling the whole the truth. Looking into their eyes has always been a sign of trust. The tradition of maintaining eye contact when you toast someone comes from medieval times.
In today's popular culture, looking someone in the eye when you say a toast, touching your glass to the other person's glass and then taking a first sip of a drink together, is a sign of good manners and upbringing. This was not the case in the Middle Ages when there was general paranoia about being poisoned. Guests at a banquet or celebration raised their cup or mug and banged it sufficiently hard against the cup of the other guest, so that their drink would slosh into the other person's cup on purpose. Then, they raised their cups to drink at the same time, while looking the other person straight in the eye, thereby proving that they had not poisoned the other person.
Staring at your customer is not friendly—it might be perceived too imposing, too aggressive. When you look at the customer, it has to be with a sincere look and with a true smile from the heart.