Should You Offer Incentives to Bricks and Mortar Employees to Embrace the iPad?
By Bob Phibbs
Third in a series of posts on technology and humanity in retail sales training
Nancy, one of your best customers, comes into your store to view your new spring shoes.
Your number one salesperson, Bill, works with her to find just the right shoe, just the right style, just the right color.
Just one thing...
When they find the perfect shoe, you are out of Nancy’s size. Now it used to be OK for Bill to just say, “Sorry,we’re out, but you might try online” leaving Nancy frustrated and headed home to her computer to try to find it at another store.
But nowadays, as soon as those words, “We don’t have it” exit Bill’s mouth, Nancy, or any other smart shopper, is on their cellphone to Zappo’s or Amazon to check their stock for that perfect shoe.
It’s not because they didn’t want to buy it from you in the first place, it’s because the Internet has made it so easy that unless you step in and offer to get it for them instantly, they can do it on their phones in a flash.
Wouldn’t you rather have Bill quickly add within a nanosecond, “But I can have it shipped to your home free of charge?”
Of course you would. It saves the customer the frustration, and also gets you the sale.
How do you incent Bill to always add that?
That’s exactly what a visitor to my website asked me yesterday...
She was looking for how to incent her brick and mortar employees to embrace web sales via the iPad.
The more I thought about how to answer her query, the more I realized that retailers in general are trying to figure out how to provide a seamlessly integrated world, a world where customers can buy whenever and wherever they are, but also where store employees feel motivated enough to make the extra effort before their customer whips out their phone and does it themselves.
But incenting is not enough of a way to get employees to offer that online service in that nanosecond they have before their customer taps and finds the item for themselves.
No, you shouldn't incent them to use the web because it doesn't go far enough.
Employees typically get an incentive for doing one thing. If they sell a shoe tree with a pair of shoes, they’ll get an incentive of $5.00 for every tree. That will sell a lot of shoe trees, but it doesn’t encourage your employee to sell anything else. All the other add-ons are no longer as important.
You with me?
If Bill had an incentive to sell the red Jimmy Choo shoes, he would try to sell that shoe to every customer. Every other shoe would just sit there.
Look, retailers need to be clear about what an employee working on their salesfloor should really be there to do – sell all the merch, not just one type - however they can.
How do you get an employee to do that?
First and foremost they should be people who should want to have the satisfaction of helping people by getting the merchandise out the door. They should be proud of their brand and be able to move seamlessly from web to salesfloor and be paid equally for wherever they make the sale. That will allow them to embrace the web as just another place to find the item and make the sale. Just like a customer.
What to do
Upgrade your sales force to become commission-based or salary plus commission for every sale regardless of how it is entered in the system.
That means you'll probably have to upgrade your POS abilities so those commissioned salespeople can seamlessly get credit whether they help your customer in the fitting room, at the cash-wrap desk, or via an iPad instore.
We often think of upgrades for computers, but upgrading your service means upgrading the people who deliver the service - your employees. Commission raises the bar and attracts people who truly understand the game of selling. They understand they don't eat if they don't sell.
True, commission salespeople have a bad reputation (put there more by movies than actual experiences), but without the reward of doing a very good job for every item they sell, your salesfloor is filled with so much beige.
So many apathetic bodies that result in...
So few sales.
Giving your entire organization a multi-channel commission system is the way to get the true rewards you sought with incentives - better customer service and higher sales.
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