Why It Must Take Longer To Train A Retail Employee
By Bob Phibbs
Turning a browsing shopper into a paying buyer is the most important aspect of retailing—yet it’s often entrusted to a retail employee with poor retail sales training and little experience.
When a customer walks into your store, they’re already thinking about buying something. Your employee’s primary job is to convince those customers to buy from you that day.
Getting the most out of your sales team and maximizing your profits, requires comprehensive retail sales training like my SalesRX system. And that takes time...
Employees can't learn how to create an exceptional experience for a customer from a one-time exposure or detailed employee manual for several reasons:
1. Your employee has to un-learn bad habits.
The old adage that practice makes perfect, simply isn’t true. If your sales team has been practicing the same bad habits for years, (like asking Can I help you find something? or Do you have a budget? or dismissing customers by saying Let me know if you need anything,) they’ve perfected mediocrity.
Until they learn how to do it right, they’re just practicing doing it wrong. And quite simply, you can't afford that in this age of showrooming. A better adage to adopt is “PERFECT practice, makes perfect.”
It takes time to convince employees to abandon behaviors they’ve practiced for so long. Initial training needs to help the learner empty their old mind-set about selling, retail and their own self-image before new learning is possible and new behaviors can take hold. Try to rush through that or ignore those facts and your training is stifled.
2. Your employee has to be exposed to great content
Once those old habits are eradicated, it’s possible to learn how to do it right. Sales training is much more than memorizing some content in a book or training film.
Sales perfection is not about memorization. Your sales staff needs the time to absorb, adopt, and practice the new behaviors so they don't go into auto-pilot and revert to the comfortable-ness of the old familiar - and less productive ways.
When in doubt, they’ll fall back on their instincts—which is exactly what you can't afford.
If their instincts were that good, they wouldn’t need retail sales training to begin with.
3. Your employee has to come to the retail sales training on their terms
The old saying, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink is still true today. Your employee has to find a way to move from skeptical to open about your training. Your employee has to remove their natural suspicion and cynicism of others telling them what to do and adopt a healthy attitude that is open towards change, making their job easier and seeing the learning as a positive. If they can't do that, your training will be derided behind your back or mocked in your presence.
4. Your employee must continue the training
Positive reinforcement breeds positive results. Effective retail sales training requires constant feedback and encouragement. Your sales staff need to see the program working, be told the program is working, and be encouraged to continue using the program.
Those old behaviors can be unlearned, but they can’t be forgotten. Without reinforcement, it’s easy for your sales people to fall back on old habits. Your employees can become disengaged and disinterested—standing around checking Facebook, or congregating in the back room or office.
Once this happens, it doesn’t take long for your employees to find customers disengaged and disinterested in your merchandise. Constant training, evaluation, and retraining will keep your employees on track.
In Sum, There Is No Quick Fix
We've all gone on a diet to try to lose weight but rarely sustained results. That's because until the underlying behaviors are changed, its to easy to revert to the familiar patterns.
Retail sales training, when done correctly, takes time and effort. You should be prepared to invest several months in training your retail employees for the training to stick. Your employees need both how not to do it as well as learn how they should have been doing it all along. After that, they need to practice doing it right, and they need to see the success that proper execution brings. And that can be as much training yourself as the owner or learning manager as your sales team.
My retail sales training program SalesRX requires ample time to master. Like my in-person sales training boot-camps, this program is not designed to be rushed through, just for the sake of completing the program. It is designed to alter the entire culture of your retail business to become customer-centric, bringing the best of your employees out and selling your merchandise in a compelling way.
Whether you use my system or one of your own, training is about changing attitudes and behaviors that have been developed over many years first.
Retail sales training takes time but when properly done, achieves higher average sale, greater conversion rates and lower employee turnover.
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