7 Reasons You’re Afraid Of Retail Sales Training And What to Do About It

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Updated April 4, 2024

Have you passed on retail sales training because you either didn’t think it would work or you had a bad experience in the past? You're not alone.

Many business owners and managers have tried various in-person and computer programs, retreats, and other activities but have had trouble getting their associates to use what they've learned.

Then, they felt like they wasted their time and wondered why it didn't work.

Good customer service seems intuitive enough, so why are some people unwilling to practice what they've learned? Besides, better service could ultimately mean more sales, bonuses, or commissions for them, right?

Seven reasons why your training doesn't work

...and what you can do about it.

1. People hate change

As humans, we get comfortable doing what we've always done, which is why many people are so resistant to change.

That's why it's essential to have regular sales training meetings so that anything new you propose will become the norm rather than the latest, unknown, and uncomfortable.

2. The my way is better mentality

Some of your associates might have been in sales for years and feel their techniques and tactics are why they've been so successful. This sentiment could result in the fear of lost sales.

Those associates might feel that if they change their ways, they could lose sales and, therefore, don't even try. This is a rigid mindset to overcome.

However, if you try team collaboration before purchasing the training, prove that the training works, and implement regular retail sales training sessions, these tactics will help those associates overcome that fear.

3. No input from salespeople prior

Many business managers and owners see a training program they think would be fantastic, and they buy it without consulting their sales team first.

Then, they wonder why it didn't work.

Consider talking with your sales team before investing in any sales training program. Their insight into their fears and concerns will be invaluable.

If you have not had a sales process before, almost any system—from the most basic to the most advanced—will initially feel constraining. Addressing all concerns before you start a training program helps them not feel powerless to change.

By the way, I'm not saying you must ask for their permission, just for their thoughts. The decision is still yours.

4. Selling is perceived as manipulative

Let’s face it. Ask a room of a hundred adults if they want their kids to grow up to be salespeople and less than a handful will raise their hands.

When you ask them, they will feel that selling is manipulative, dishonest, and fake. Without dealing with those perceptions before implementation, the most straightforward sales tactic might be seen as slick or disingenuous, and the entire program might get trashed.

If you consult with your team about the pros and cons of any potential retail training program before you purchase it, you can uncover any potential negative aspects from different perspectives.

5. Associates are not being held accountable

When directing a sales team, there has to be a system of accountability with clear objectives and goals, suggested improvements, and sales metrics for them to follow.

Otherwise, you will be allowing your associates to drift in their performance. Employees will feel they can do whatever they want without performance metrics - say, two lessons per week.

The whole point of introducing retail sales training is to increase each person’s sales numbers.

6. Perception of too much work for not enough sales

An old saying, "Is the juice worth the squeeze?" asks if something is worth the trouble of trying to get it.

You have to be able to share stories about how the training is working:

  • A customer who you thought was just looking opened up to you,
  • A repeat customer exclaimed how something had changed (for the better),
  • Or your KPIs have gone up.

You must share the early results often and with everyone so they see how others are meeting with success. Some associates might need solid proof that what you ask them to do will ultimately work if given enough time.

7. One rotten apple can spoil the barrel

Attitude is everything. 

If you don't hire people who genuinely like people and like selling, you will probably end up with an even bigger problem when one negative attitude spreads to the rest of your team.

You can try to mold that person into the salesperson you want them to be, but that rarely works. If they were a bad employee before you offered retail sales training, they’d still be a lousy employee who frustrates your efforts to improve customer service.

If you have someone with a negative attitude or who seems disinterested in selling your products, cut them loose.

See also: Is Online Retail Sales Training Right For My Stores?

The right retail sales training will transform your business

With so much competition for your shoppers’ money, you can’t afford to let your store devolve into a warehouse of pretty items you hope will magically sell themselves to people who walk in your store.

The merchandise can’t do the heavy lifting of converting a passing interest into a purchase.

That takes a human being who can greet a shopper like a friend, build rapport, and become a trusted advisor.

That takes retail sales training. To go a bit further, online retail sales training is now far more effective than any "trainer" position when matched with an in-store daily coaching strategy, the one that really can increase your sales.