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What To Do When You Don’t Like To Sell

retail sales trainingIndependent retailers with one location represent 95% of all retailing in the US; yet many don’t like to sell their own merchandise.

If that’s you, unless you embrace selling, you’re going to be at the whim of customers who would just as soon order online or go to a big-box competitor.

But it’s easy to understand your aversion to sell …

As I perform retail sales training across the world, I find the following to be the five most common reasons people say they don’t like to sell: Continue reading What To Do When You Don’t Like To Sell »

5 Pitfalls of DIY Retail Sales Training in Your Store

pitfalls of retail trainingWhile I love to speak to retailers and train them how to sell better in their stores, I have another passion for fixing up old houses.

The first bathroom I remodeled, I decided to tile the tube walls myself and add a tin ceiling. The tin panels were 4’ x 8’ and when doing it yourself (DIY,) it is next to impossible to get flush, straight and looking like the ceiling I expected. Tiling a wall is not something for a first project as they slip and slide easily. While I finished it, I was always keenly aware I didn’t have the skill, time or inclination to do it right – rather I just wanted to get through it.

I learned without the proper experience, it’s almost impossible to foresee, and avoid, all of the pitfalls of a DIY project.

Retailers have been treating retail sales training as a DIY project for decades, often with the same lackluster results. DIY training doesn’t fail due to ignorance or laziness, but due to a lack of experience and organization.

Five pitfalls of DIY training in your retail store:

Dusty Training Manuals

If you look around long enough in the back room of a retail store, you’ll eventually run across a bookshelf full of “training material.” These 3-ring binders are chock full of outdated materials that are either too complex to be intelligible and actionable, or too simplified to be of any use. Worse yet, if you dig some more, you may find some old VHS tapes that trainees are expected to find the time to watch. Of course, these outdated video training tools feature actors performing retail sales tasks under ideal conditions, so their training value is limited.

One thing that all of these training materials usually have in common is a healthy layer of dust. That’s because your employees either don’t know they exist, or do and have avoided using them. Either way, the standardized training materials are left on the shelf and your employees end up being trained on an ad hoc basis.

Blind Leading the Blind

Without a train-the-trainer program to follow for your retail store, how are your employees being trained? They’re learning from the employees that came before them. And those employees learned from previous employees. Each new generation of employees is getting a more-diluted version of the original training. Even the best training probably has little or no resemblance to the original program you set up. It’s like making a copy of a copy of a copy. With each iteration, the lines get a little more blurred, the process gets a little more faded, and the end result is unrecognizable.

No Time

When things are busy, your floor staff won’t have time to properly train a new salesperson. When things are slow, there’s usually a cutback in staff and no one to teach the new salesperson. Your staff is left with a difficult decision—they can try to administer training during busy periods, jeopardizing their own performance or they can leave the newbie employee to sink or swim on their own, jeopardizing your business. Either way, the trainee is unlikely to properly learn much-needed skills, and the trainer is likely to end up frustrated. For a brick and mortar retail business that lives or dies on the performance of its salespeople, neither is a good outcome.

Overpaid Training

If your floor staff doesn’t have the time to administer training, that leaves it up to your managers. This puts the highest-paid members of your staff out on the floor, teaching someone how to stock merchandise or ring up purchases. You promoted your managers because they could handle the most important responsibilities in your retail store—now you have them performing basic training. That’s not a good use of their time, or your money. Retail sales training e-learning lets trainees learn basic tasks quickly and efficiently, without pulling your managers away from greater responsibilities.

Luck of the Draw Training

This happens far too often in a retail sales environment. Your new employee gets paired with whoever happens to be working when they start their first shift. This is often random, and done without considering the overall abilities or attitude of the person doing the training. What if you’ve just paired the trainee with someone who never got to complete their own training? Or, worse yet, what if you’ve paired them with a disgruntled employee who’s just counting minutes until they find another job? You could unknowingly be creating two poorly trained salespeople with attitude problems. And, as luck would have it, they may go on to train other people themselves!

How to avoid these pitfalls?

Retailers are making these mistakes, and suffering the consequences, every day – often more than once a day. To avoid these pitfalls, and the problems they can cause, consider online retail sales training for your sales staff.


Because your sales crew gets the same training every time. My SalesRX.com online retail sales training program certifies your crew that they know all the material and will use it – making your training and HR issues much easier. The fact it is raising conversions by as much as 30% is a bonus.

Conversion Rates: 6 Ways How Retailers Can Increase Theirs

increasing conversion ratesWhile many retailers ask how to attract more customers, the better question is how to increase my retail conversion rate.

Why? Because you can do promotions and marketing gimmicks until the cows come home but if you haven’t done all you can to convert those customers who are in your four walls – the only place you can truly affect your sales – from lookers to buyers, then you are like a poor marksman constantly missing the target.

Bigger retailers know that high conversion rates are their salvation and low conversion rates are the death knell of their operation. That’s why so many obsess on things like big data and traffic counts because only what you measure can you change.

Regardless of your size, retailers often lose sales by thinking it is all about the close of a sale. That’s a mistake. Continue reading Conversion Rates: 6 Ways How Retailers Can Increase Theirs »

8 Reasons Why Your Retail Employee Turnover Is So High

employee turnover retailWhen employees leave – either because you fired them or they quit by choice, their absence leaves a hole.

Retailers hate holes… in merchandise, in displays and in schedules.

The more employee turnovers you have, the more holes you have to deal with, the more costly it becomes.  A CAP study found it costs, on average,  $3,328 to find, hire and train a replacement for a $10/hour retail employee.

Hay Group reported a median turnover rate of 67% for part-time retail employees.

And while many businesses are adopting impersonal online application processes and pre-employment skill tests, they seem to do nothing to work on why their turnover is still so high.

Here are 8 reasons why your retail employee turnover is so high.

#8 – There are no incentives, except at the manager level. No one wants to work harder so someone else gets a reward. Find a way to include everyone somehow – not just on a sales goal but in keeping the “attaboy” attitude, so everyone feels good about the job they do for you.

#7 –  Your policies or procedures are antiquated. No refunds, no exchanges, everyone works every weekend – all these stupid policies cause friction for good employees…and your customers. Examine your employee manuals and policies, and throw out those that are still rooted in the 50’s.

#6 – Your training is minimal. Just because an employee has previous experience does not mean they will understand what makes your store different. You have to tell them explicitly what you are trying to do with your customers and how it is different from every other retailer on your block.

#5 – Your employees are thrown into the job and not even introduced to the crew. Millennial employees don’t have the skill set to pro-actively meet other employees. You have to make an ongoing effort to bring people together, not keep them apart.

#4- You don’t encourage employees to think, only to do. The younger workforce has an innate positive outlook. When they are forced to stock those shelves, price that merchandise, etc., it gives them plenty of time to say how much their job sucks.

#3 – You make every day the same. When every day is the same, employees get bored. Yes, customers can keep them interested, but we’re talking about the job itself. Many times we look at some employees as too valuable where they are. Mix it up for employees who have been with you for awhile; give them new duties, training, responsibilities, etc.

#2 – You hire the wrong people. Just because you’re tired of interviewing, you can’t just take anyone because they say what you want to believe. You need to see if they are able to talk to people, not just say they can.

#1- You keep promoting employees who are good at tasks to supervisors.  Employees quit managers, not brands. Promoting someone because they get things done isn’t the only criteria. Those managers with poor interpersonal skills will be tolerated by a certain type of employee, but the best employees will move on quickly. A manager’s main job is to develop a crew who feels it is their store, and not leave them feeling like they are a cog in a wheel.

In sum

When you have to fire someone – and you should on a regular basis if you are truly managing the business – see how their behavior might have been crippled by your training. And when someone quits, seek to discover what the interpersonal dynamics were of the people they usually worked with.

Only when you are willing to dig deeper into the soft belly of your organization will you be able to fortify yourself from the knife of high turnover rates.

Retailers, Can Coupons Mask The Lack Of A Great Experience?

mobile coupon big data retailAn upscale restaurant chain CEO called and asked me to speak to their franchisees about discounting.  He felt it was destroying the perception of their brand in customers’ minds. He knew I’d written the book blasting Groupon as one of the worst ways to market a retail business, so I seemed like a natural fit to him.

Even though he had read my book, Groupon: You Can’t Afford It–Why Deep Discounts are Bad for Business, some franchisees kept offering Groupons, which was reducing profits and affecting other locations. I told him in order to kick the habit of offering Groupons, they had to do the hard work of creating a better customer experience in each location.

“No.” he said, “ I need you to show empirical data showing why discounting is so bad.”

“And you think that will stop it?” I asked.

“Yes, you’re the retail expert; they’ll listen to you.” Continue reading Retailers, Can Coupons Mask The Lack Of A Great Experience? »