10 Retail Sales Training Tips For the Holidays

By Bob Phibbs

retail sales training tips for holidaysThe holidays are here and I'm convinced some of you are going to have banner retail sales. Why?

Because you have set aside the belly-aching and TV watching 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 entree to the game, they still have a lot to show you.

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 if the dials are set to off and there is no heat it is OK. You say, "Don't ever do this." Period.

4) Reward initiative. Once you've trained someone to say 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 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 a product or service.

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 .

6) Have a designated trainer. Training is not easy. You need either someone who truly enjoys it and won't deviate or someone who understands how vital it is to making their job easier at the holiday. Under no circumstances do you "spring it" on someone to train that day.

7) Remove the trainer and trainee from the schedule. So many times 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 how to think. Or how to find a new job.

8) Ask them questions throughout a session to see how well they can comprehend.

9) Train in bursts. No trainer or trainee wants to train for 3, 4 or more hours. 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 just 10 minutes a week.

10) Be quick to correct and slow to promote. Just because Janey 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." You, your customers and your business deserve better.

The phrase Happy Holidays has to be more than something on a greeting card. You have to train employees that 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.

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