How To Sell Your Boss On Why You Need Sales Training

By Bob Phibbs

retail sales training tips

I sat next to a young woman on a plane to Chicago the other day. She was on the second leg of a trip home from Boston to Seattle. Her flight had been delayed and then finally canceled 8 hours earlier.

“But,” she said, “I pleaded and cried and told them my mom was in the hospital and they put me on this flight. I put on a good show - with tears - and I got my way.”

When it comes to getting our way, especially with a boss or someone in a position of power, most of us have little idea how to get what we want, so we accept what we get.

Most of us know that training employees is the way to higher retail sales. We just don’t know how to convince our boss to pay for it.

The Recession of 2008 resulted in slashed training budgets across all businesses.

And while you might think those budgets are gone forever, consider this…

US spending on corporate training grew by 15% last year (the highest growth rate in seven years) to over $70 Billion.  

That means employee capabilities for many businesses are now a priority; corporate executives have connected the dots between learning and performance.

If it’s right for corporate, isn’t it time for retail?

Now is the time for you to approach the people who control the purse strings and ask for their support (in dollars) for retail sales training.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but now is the time.

Because you see that …

Footfall is down.  Not just in big malls but in strip centers and on Main Streets.  Customers just don’t have much need for more stuff.

Conversions are down.  Those shoppers who do come in to shop are responding only to promotions. That means there are a higher percentage of browsers than buyers.

Store staffing budgets are down. When the sales numbers aren’t there, two-person coverage becomes the norm and little more than clerking results.

The reason you are asking your boss to pay for training is because you still have hope that in your store or stores things could be different. Better. For everyone.  

You know you are not where you need to be in what you and your crew should be doing. Otherwise you wouldn’t have researched options and you wouldn’t be reading this right now.

Or is fear holding you hostage to doing things the way you’ve always done them; you still hire to fit the schedule, you assume employees come trained, and you just let them loose on your customers.

But now you know you want to change.

I’ll bet your boss does too.

When I was a CMO, I was anxious for someone to come to me with a sales plan they thought would work.

What I didn’t want was someone just asking me for more money for a vague idea. To that end...

Here Are 5 Pointers When Asking Your Boss To Pay For Training

1. Have the right attitude. If you start, They’ll never approve this, you’re sunk right out of the gate. If you already have your boss’s trust, this will be easier than you think.  That’s because your boss wants the store to do better too. They probably are paid a bonus based on sales performance. They’ve racked their brains for how to do more with less, but now they find themselves with less all around.

2. Be specific. Answer the following questions before the boss asks you: What do you want? How much will it cost? What do you expect it to do for you? How long will it take? How will it help lift key performance indicators (KPIs.) For example, if you have data on your conversion rate, and with training you project it would increase from 12 - 18%, show what that would mean in real dollars.

3. Present the benefits of the system, person or plan you are proposing. Easy and proven are words to use.

4. Offer to be the one who implements the training. One of the biggest fears of owners and C-Level executives is, Will they use it? Show how you will personally track every employee. Tell how will you roll out the training, and give them the markers you’d want to see of the progress.

5. Be ready for one of two answers. You might hear, Tell me more, so have links or printouts ready with common FAQs about the training you are proposing. Get a small yes first by asking if you can arrange a sample lesson. You might also hear, No, so see if, just like a customer, they can tell you their objections. If they can, restate them back in a sentence, for example, “So I hear you say there isn’t any money for this now due to the new store opening.  Is this something we could explore in six or seven months?”  You won’t be able to script everything when asking your boss for money. Just remain open, flexible and focused on changing things for the better.


And if you are the Training Director, don’t worry that asking for a sales training system will make you obsolete. Far from it!

By using a training program such as my online retail sales training SalesRX.com, you can virtually train every employee with the same proven sales secrets because they access the training at each location without you.

You won’t have to jump in a car and drive for hours.

You won’t expect to train three people but only have one show up.

You won’t be bored repeating yourself day after day.

But you still get to manage the training.

So you can reward employees who are progressing.

So you can connect the dots between those who are well-trained and their KPIs.

So you can methodically follow-up and certify that every employee is indeed trained.

This is the perfect time for managers and salespeople to revitalize retail and add value by teaching everyone how to sell, so that every customer experiences a well-trained crew that can deliver the goods.

And the sales.

And the profits.

Because of you and your belief in retail sales training.

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