8 Mistakes That Kill Your Retail Sales Training And How To Fix Them

Retail sales training

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Updated January 16, 2024. You only have one shot at training new hires in your retail store. One. You don't get a do-over...

Whatever skills and attitudes you instill in your retail sales training affect how employees will approach their jobs with you forever.

The primary focus of high-quality retail sales training is not on the initial investment but rather on the long-term return on investment that comes from enhancing your staff's ability to sell your products effectively.

Over the years, I’ve seen some common employee training mistakes that can ruin the effectiveness of the best sales training programs out there. Fortunately, they’re easily avoided with some insight and refocus.

8 Employee Training Mistakes That Kill Your Retail Sales Training

Mistake 1: Dumbing down the sales training

Treating sales training like a kindergarten class is the No. 1 way to kill employee motivation.

How to fix it:

Assume your sales team can have the sales skills you expect from them. First, focus on fundamentals: instilling the right attitude, teaching a process to sell, and then practicing those skills so your team can truly be your brand ambassadors.

Mistake 2: Complicating sales training 

The best sales training programs are simple and elegant. Developing practical skills application is far more critical than loading employees down with information they’ll never remember.

How to fix it:

Focus on training them to take 100% ownership of every customer who walks through your door.

Mistake 3: Flooding trainees with content

This is another over-complication of sales training. It’s good to have visual materials. Many people learn best by reading. But when your new reps hit the floor, they won’t have a textbook to crack open.

How to fix it:

It’s far more important that your team develops confidence and composure while communicating. Interactive, practical sales training is the only way to build those real-time skills.

Mistake 4: Obsessing over scripts

You already know this: people buy out of emotion. If customers are in your brick-and-mortar store, it’s because they want to be there.

The more your sales team builds their trust, the more likely they will buy. They’ll also feel great and rave about you to all their friends.

However, encountering a salesperson incapable of interacting without a script is a total turn-off.

How to fix it:

All salespeople need to have general scripts to rely on.

Think of a training script as the backbone that holds customer interaction through the five parts to a sale, but the salesperson must personalize it and make the process seem effortless for scripts to be effective.

It's a training mistake to allow them to repeat the same script repeatedly to every customer. It’s more important that your team has a good grasp on the process of leading someone through to making happy purchases.

Creating interactive exercises, where they develop scenario-based personalities and confidence, is in order.

Mistake 5: Creating meaningless acronyms

Acronyms are a great trick to aid memory. But irrelevant or flat-out lame acronyms aren’t. B-R-A-V-O is good if it is a meme that an employee can easily remember, but memorizing the meme to be able to recite it is just a waste of their talent.

How to fix it:

Focus on developing superb memory-assisting tools, like practical application drills, step-by-step orderly processes, and engaging visual aids.

Mistake 6: Treating trainees like prisoners

History recap:

The Industrial Revolution gave rise to training disciplines based on inputting information and regurgitating it for a test - essentially treating people like machines. 

Yet, many companies still work under this paradigm. They mistakenly use techniques like locking new hires up in a training room, isolated from the world. Or sitting them in front of a monitor, “learning” information online without real human interaction. 

How to fix it:

Understand that retail is about building trust and rapport between staff and customers. That’s a relational process.

Everything else is secondary!

Don’t teach your team to have the forced, obedient-drone attitude of Industrial Era factory workers. Get them interacting, practicing, and having fun selling your products instead.

We’re becoming a species at home before a screen, typing or viewing all kinds of virtual life. If your employees are to work with the public, you might have to teach them how to be human.

Mistake 7: Throwing trainees to the wolves

It’s tempting to just toss new hires out on the floor to flub their way through interactions while a trainer hovers over their shoulder.

That approach is great in theory. In reality, it alienates customers. It ties up floor staff and leaves the best new hires unmotivated as they’re embarrassed to learn in front of strangers.

How to fix it:

Set up designated sales training areas. Be willing to invest time, energy, and resources into creating a stellar learning environment.

Mistake 8: Not having a superb trainer

You might have the most brilliant sales training program in the world. But if your sales trainer is as personable as a lump of coal, you’ll make little lumps of coal of your trainees.

Letting the wrong person lead education for the entire team is a big training mistake. 

The trainer makes the learning experience real, actionable, fast-paced, and fun. If your trainees are treated as “nothing special,” that feeling will rub off on your customers too, leaving them feeling like “they’re nothing special” also.

How to fix it:

Humans are hard-wired to imitate each other. As a sales trainer, your job isn't just to disseminate information.

It is your responsibility to breathe confidence into your team and to deliver energy and attitude aligned with your brand personality. A superb retail trainer accepts 100% ownership and responsibility.

Don't let training mistakes get you down

We've all had a fair share of them before we could know better.

What I want you to take from this article is that training is a process for both the business looking to educate their employees and the salesperson.

If you want to have your crew, franchise, regional chain, or brand trained in my successful retail sales program, simply download my service guide.

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