The holidays are here, and I'm convinced some of you will have banner retail sales. Why?
Because you have set aside the pessimism and disappointment of the last several months for action.
You don't have much time, so here are my retail sales training tips:
1. Have a plan. If you haven't had a formal training program, create one, even if it is on a single sheet of paper. Make it logical, with the most basic at the start and the most advanced at the end.
2. Continue the audition. Just because an employee passed the interview only gives them entrée to the game; they still have a lot to show you. Hold them accountable to do what you train.
3. Train black and white. We don't need to know all the exceptions that happened however many years ago, in the rain, with a customer who did something so outrageous everything you just taught them would have to be thrown out the door. Think of a four-year-old reaching up to touch the stove when it is on. You don't inform them that it is okay if the dials are set to off and there is no heat. You say, "Don't ever do this." Period. Train what you want and be clear about what success looks like.
4. Reward initiative. Once you've trained someone to stock a section and they go out of their way to do it better - doing something you didn't think of - but was smart - give them a Starbucks or other gift card for a free drink. Carry extra gift cards or scratchers with you and reward on the spot for showing initiative. Trainers frequently focus on what was wrong rather than the glimmers of hope. Yes, you could give cash but people don't remember cash like they do something physical.
5. Focus on the merchandise, not the register. I am finding management stretched so thin in most retail stores that the DMs or managers are behind the counter ringing holiday sales. That doesn't make you money. They should be working with staff or customers to grow sales. If you need to hire more - do it even if you're reading this a week before Christmas.
6. Have a designated trainer. Training is not easy. You need someone who truly enjoys it and won't deviate or who understands how vital it is to make their job easier during the holidays. A daily huddle at the start of each shift sets expectations and should repeat in no uncertain language it is about the customers and getting them everything you have to offer. Under no circumstances do you "spring it" on someone to lead such huddles that day. Appointing a learning manager is key.
7. Remove the trainer and trainee from the schedule. So often, I see trainers called away to deal with something leaving their trainee looking dejected and adrift. If your staff can't be able to make decisions for an hour or so, they need to be trained in how to think. Or how to find a new job.
8. Ask associates questions throughout a session to see how well they can comprehend. See if they can compare and contrast two items during one huddle, ask them what would go well with a particularly popular item, or give them three minutes to build the biggest sale, then share their logic with the group to keep building sales top of mind.
9. Train in bursts. Keep each lesson very pointed, related, and short, with plenty of time for them to role-play or accomplish the tasks. Better yet, use my SalesRX.com online sales training to train for just 10 minutes a week.
10. Be quick to correct and slow to promote. Just because someone quit and you need someone right now, don't throw the new hire to the wolves with minimum training or expect them to "shadow" another employee to "figure it out." It's the holidays; you want to nurture them. You, your customers, and your business deserve better.
The phrase Happy Holidays has to mean more than words on a greeting card. Preparing for the Holidays means you have to train employees that spreading joy is the spirit you want to create in your store.
Once they are trained, ask them how they can help make the store a fun place to shop.