Considering Retail Sales Training Courses? Here Are The Essentials

Stubbed toe

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Had a shocking call with the North American CEO of a luxury brand recently.

They had a bad fourth quarter and were having a sales management meeting.

I was shocked because I learned they didn’t have any sales training in their culture. The CEO wanted me to correct that in 30 minutes.

That’s the trouble with many CEOs who do not have a sales background, they feel it doesn’t warrant anything special and can be easily solved.

Brick and mortar retailers often point to online shopping as the reason for their sluggish sales.

This is like pointing at an aching toe and ignoring the nightstand you just stubbed it on.

Online retailers are successful because they offer convenience more than anything and to a lesser extent, savings. That’s it.

Too many retailers have been trying to battle them on the same playing field by lowering prices and offering options like BOPIS.

Unfortunately, this is playing right into the hands of online retailers. You can’t beat them on price! And convenience options rob you of upsell opportunities.

The solution, then, is to change the playing field.

Read My Comprehensive Retail Sales Training Online Page To Get Answers To Your Questions Here

Stop trying to compete on their strongest points, play to your own strengths.

So, what are the strengths of a brick and mortar retail chain, versus an online retailer?

I’m glad you asked… 

A Computer Screen is no Replacement for People

I quit a job because the CEO felt a store’s greatest asset was its customers. I told him, “Our employees are our greatest strength.” Customers can and will go anywhere but a well-trained sales staff can move product in a way that touches a customer’s heart, not just their logical brain.

Your retail sales team can offer personalized attention, problem solving, informed advice, camaraderie and the very best do it all with an ease and sense of humor that draws customers back again and again. 

Try getting that out of computer screen. 

Realized Potential

All retailers have the potential to offer that experience but actually offering that experience are two completely different things. 

Retail sales employees can offer all of these things, but that doesn’t mean that they’re able to offer these things. 

Disinterested part-time employees with a few hours of instruction aren’t going to offer much more than grunts and nods. Training is what makes the difference.

Making Training Work for You

As the CEO of a retail chain, you have options when it comes to staff education.

You can stick with what you’ve been doing which is probably extensive product knowledge training, especially if you are a luxury retailer, and continue to settle for leftovers from the online retailers.

Or you can switch to a sales training program that’s built from the ground up to create unique experiences for your customers and increase retail sales.

If you choose the second route (and I hope you do,) there are a few things you need to look for.

Retail Sales Training Courses Must-Haves

To be effective, sales training needs to have some key elements - the specifics can be tweaked for your needs, but you absolutely must have these foundational elements:

  1. It Must Address Known Problems: Before you deploy a program, or even begin looking for one, you need to know exactly what problems you expect it to fix. A shotgun approach won’t work, and will waste a lot of time. Identify the issues you’re having – low conversion rates, low-average ticket, low items per transaction, high turnover, customer complaints.  Then decide what you need (and are willing) to do to fix them.

  2. It Must be Specific: Broad generalities and vague concepts like value every guest don’t tell your retail staff anything. A learning program needs to tell them exactly what to do and how to do it. A great sales process provides the skeleton of an exceptional experience. It gives them structure without making them robots.

  3. It Must be Accessible: Your Millennial salesforce will fall asleep five minutes into instructional videos and even quicker with manuals. You need interactive, attention-grabbing sales training that provides immediate feedback on success or failure. This is the video-game generation and old-fashioned retail training methods will cause them to disconnect almost immediately.

  4. It Must be Digestible: Following on the same theme, the learning modules must be divided into small, easily learned chunks. The longer a lesson is, the harder it becomes to learn all of the specifics, and the greater the chance of losing something.

  5. It Must be Repeatable: Lessons will be forgotten over time. Education isn’t a one-time event. It’s a long-term commitment to improvement. Salespeople need to be able to access the training material to brush up on key concepts as needed. Unlike product knowledge instruction, you don’t train so they get a concept right once, you train so they can’t get it wrong on the sales floor.

  6. It Must be Scalable: As the CEO of a large retailer, you need a solution that can be easily deployed across multiple locations. Sending a sales trainer from mall to mall isn’t practical. Instructing a small group of managers once and sending them to your stores invites inconsistency. This needs to be a top-down, consistent deployment.

This is the absolute, bare-bones framework for a system that works. You can build this on your own from scratch, but it will likely take years and keep you in meetings until retirement.

That’s probably why so many simply ignore it and give lip-service to sales skills and staff development.  

See also, How To Help New Employees Succeed 

Turning A Blind Eye Will Cost You

But that costs those brands plenty because untrained employees are more likely to turnover quicker. And the cost of replacing them is about 16 percent of that person's average wage.  For most retailers, that's about $3400 every time they lose a salesperson.

In Sum

The better solution, for a fraction of that $3400 per employee cost, is to deploy an existing, customizable, award-winning retail education program that has all of these essentials and more.

What would that be? builds on these basic concepts and expands to include a wide variety of options for customization, deployment, and measurement.

Use your most valuable asset – your crew – to create an exceptional customer experience that moves your merchandise at full price.

To go deeper into online retail sales training, check out these posts:

Still Not Convinced You Need Retail Sales Training? Think Again!
5 Pitfalls of DIY Retail Sales Training in Your Store       
Retail Sales Training: How to Get Started and What to Expect

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