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Hiring Smarter: Creating Music in Retail

retail sales trainingHiring is always tough for a retail store.

As the economy improves, every retailer should look at upgrading their employees. That means hiring smarter employees as well as cutting out dead wood.

The trouble is, the odds of hiring a keeper are about 50/50.

That’s because a new employee’s success is determined less by their interview and more by the past skills they’ve collected. Their true success with you then lies with who and how you train them and with whom they will work.

One thing I’ve noticed in my many years of hiring the best salespeople, is that many of them are singers.  That’s right, and not just any singers…choral singers.

I was thinking about all the professional people I know who once sang in choirs.  They have a common thread of seven skills that singing encouraged and here’s why…

Rehearsals – While choral singers meet on a regular basis to go over and over music to get it right, they often have to work on a piece on their own to learn their specific part.
Skill: Practice.

Languages – Choral singers often have to give meaning and emotion to lyrics in different languages.  That means they have to create a feeling before they ever sing a note.
Skill: Empathy.

New music- The music never sounds right on the first read-through.  Singers have different abilities, and getting them to all sing on the same page takes practice. They have to be open to making mistakes in front of others with their most personal asset they have – their voice.
Skill: Humility.

Focus – If the bass section already has their part down, they have to be able to stay engaged while the second sopranos struggle to get the harmony. The basses have to stay ready in case the director says, “OK, everybody at letter B.” Singers in the choir have to be open to be hearing and letting other people make mistakes.
Skill: Patience.

Blend – Choral singers are not a bunch of soloists looking for the spotlight. They are a community of singers who want to come together and do something they could not do alone.
Skill: Teamwork

Listening – Singers have to listen to the conductor’s feedback about their performance again and again, each time striving to do better.
Skill: Continuous Improvement.

Performance – While there are conductors who say they like to rehearse, I’ve never found a choir that does; for them, it is all about performing.  There really is no description for the triangle that forms between the conductor and the choir, the choir and the audience, the audience and the conductor – all of them contribute to the shared temporary experience.
Skill: Showtime.

One more thing…

I sang in the Glendale High School Acappella choir. The director, Roy Klassen had chosen a work by Johannes Brahms, Der Abend. The first time we sang it, we were awful. Roy patiently went over the words, which translated in part, “The fields thirst for refreshing dew; the people languish, the steeds are weary- let the chariot sink down!”

He went over and over it, trying to get a bunch of high school kids to understand how it feels first to be parched and then refreshed by the dew.  He went over the lines to get the poetry. He had us tell in our own words what the text meant. The night it was to be performed, he spent another 15 minutes during warm-ups to get us to sound like the start of evening.

I think we nailed it. We certainly felt we did.

That’s because the conductor exuded positive belief and confidence we would indeed get it.

And that’s the final piece for you to understand, that you need the director’s skill of giving confidence and encouragement.

When you have that, you can mold any group of employees into a powerhouse. If you don’t have managers who can do that, you end up with chaos.

In Sum

In a world of texting and status updates, I find a world of retail employees in need of voice lessons.  Many live and move about the world unable to sing their own song in a free and easy fashion that encourages others to not only hear, but share their own voices.

Hiring smart should start with looking for choral singers and then finish with your managers’ recognition that they are here to create music with your employees and customers… and not sing a solo or silence others.

When you do that, you will attract customers and employees who will sing your praises over and over again.





The Secret of Getting More From Your Facebook Fan Page

Facebook fan page marketing facebook fan marketingThere are many marketing articles written about how to get more fans on Facebook, and how to get more likes.

This isn’t one of them…

This is a post on how to get your Facebook fans to actually read your posts and use Facebook to market and drive traffic to your own website.

Like most marketers, I’ve noticed through Facebook’s Insights report, that my Facebook Fan page organic reach (those people who see my posts and then click like, or click comment or share) has gone down… Continue reading The Secret of Getting More From Your Facebook Fan Page »

Is Working Retail Bad For Your Health?

retail sales trainingA retail salesperson asked me, “Is working retail bad for your health?”

My quick answer, was to say “no.”

I mean, a salesperson in retail is not like a salesperson selling door-to-door or selling tin siding…

However, as a retail expert, I realized that answer doesn’t give the question the consideration it deserves. Continue reading Is Working Retail Bad For Your Health? »

What Not To Do When You Lose A Customer

lost a sale sellingA business owner’s worst nightmare is learning they’ve lost their best customer.

Many times you don’t get closure when a customer quits your business. You don’t  learn why your customer didn’t come back.

But what happens when you do know why you lost a customer?

I was speaking in Portugal this past week. I was  taking a tour of the 300-year-old Taylor’s Port Wine Facility when the guide told me about the day they lost their best customer because he would no longer pay their price. Continue reading What Not To Do When You Lose A Customer »

How To Reduce Restaurant Turnover and Increase Employee Retention

server restaurant turnoverIn a recent RetailWire discussion, Ralph Jacobson commented as devils advocate, “Do I want my low-margin, high-cost business to be driven by an ever-increasing average hourly wage rate by keeping people longer-term and being forced to pay them more because they’ve worked for me longer when labor is my largest controllable expense, beyond the COGS? Turnover may not always be a bad thing.”

Many restaurants are averaging a turnover rate of 60%. Here are several reasons why turnover happens:

The attitude many of these employees bring to the job is one factor. Servers often feel the job is a step down from other jobs and therefore hate what they are doing.  Others initially believe that it’s an easy job but don’t get the connection that good service produces better tips. So when easy money (especially from tips) doesn’t appear, they leave.

And of course, we know there is nothing easy at all about being a server… Continue reading How To Reduce Restaurant Turnover and Increase Employee Retention »