5 Pitfalls of DIY Retail Sales Training in Your Store

Man looking at sideways DIY project

Access My FREE 5-Part Retail Sales Training Email Course!

Updated July 21, 2022

While I love speaking to retailers and providing retail sales training on how to sell better in their stores, I have another passion: fixing up old houses.

In the first bathroom I remodeled, I decided to tile the tub walls myself and add a tin ceiling. The tin panels were 4’ x 8’ and as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project, tin panels are next to impossible to get flush, straight, and look like the ceiling I expected.

Tiling a wall is not something for a first home improvement project as the tiles easily slip and slide. While I finished the project, I was always keenly aware I didn’t have the skill, time, or inclination to do it right – rather, I just wanted to be done.

I learned without the proper experience, it's almost impossible to foresee, and avoid, all of the pitfalls of a DIY project.

Retailers have been treating retail sales training as a DIY project for decades, often with the same lackluster results.

DIY training doesn’t fail due to ignorance or laziness, but due to a lack of experience and organization.

5 pitfalls of DIY training in your retail store:

1. Outdated Training Manuals with Ineffective Sales Methods

Take a look in your shop's back room. There's likely a rack full of 'training material: three-ring binders, VHS tapes, pamphlets, and tri-folds, all of which are likely too complex to be actionable or too simplified to be effective.

What's worse, I can guarantee you at least 90% of what's in those materials is outdated. Why are these materials still in your back room? If you're not using them - and they're also not up to date - get rid of them.

2. Blind Leading the Blind

How are your employees being trained without a train-the-trainer program to follow for your small business?

They’re learning from the employees who came before them, who learned from their predecessors - or what they didn't learn - and on and on.

This creates a massive problem because outdated sales techniques, even ones from the 60s and 70s, keep making their way through the years. A prime example is when a 'trainer' tells a new employee that they have to be a Product Expert.

No, they don't!

This isn't the 1960s anymore! All the info your shopper likely needs about the product is a quick screen scroll away.

You need to encourage a human connection instead of trying to make your employees into glorified info kiosks.

And yet, so many retailers are stuck in this "That's the way I was taught" cycle of the blind leading the blind.

Without an outside sales training perspective, how will your team stay sharp and up to date with the most relevant, effective sales techniques? You can get a real outside opinion from a trusted expert in retail sales.

3. "We Just Don't Have Enough Time for Training..."

During the busy season, your floor staff is often crunched for time.

What happens when your store is closed for walk-ins and your team has to be fully dedicated to virtual shopper interactions?

The setting may differ, but the need for retail sales experience training is greater than ever.

It's easy to fall into the trap of "We're already so busy with shoppers. Is training really worth our time right now?"

Your busiest times is when your sales training is worth the most. More interactions = more opportunities to optimize your connection with shoppers.

This is your chance to play to your full potential. Your employees' most important skills - creating a meaningful shopper connection and generating more sales - are always worth investing the time to do the training right.

Whether you are closed to in-person, you're open, and it is busy, or you're open and slow, training never stops for those wanting more sales.

4. Overpaid Training

It is up to your managers if your floor staff doesn’t have the time to administer training. This puts the highest-paid members of your staff out on the floor, trying to teach someone how to greet a customer or ring up purchases.

You promoted your managers because they could handle the most critical responsibilities in your retail store—now you have them performing basic training.

And they rarely show up looking forward to training. They dread it because of all the tasks you've given them.

That’s not a good use of their time or your money.

Online retail sales training means the manager must schedule the employee off the floor for 10-15 minutes weekly.

It also lets trainees learn the basics of establishing customer rapport quickly and efficiently without pulling their managers away from greater responsibilities.

5. Luck of the Draw Training

This happens far too often in retail. Your new employee gets paired with whoever happens to be working when they start their first shift. This is often random and done without considering the overall abilities or attitude of the training person.

What if you’ve just paired the trainee with someone who never got to complete their own training?

Even worse, what if you've paired them with a disgruntled employee who spends the work day on a mobile device waiting for the day they can leave?

You could unknowingly be creating two poorly trained salespeople with attitude problems. 

Retail sales training is too important to be left to chance. You need intentional, accountable sales training to equip your employees with the best sales skills.

The one pitfall not to ignore: Sending the same trainer from store to store.

Online retail sales training is much easier than intermittent sessions with an outside sales trainer, as Millennial employees are used to online training. Videos have come a long way since the pixelated talking heads from just a few years ago.

The most effective learning experience combines the ease and on-demand access of online, i.e., outside sales training with in-person training and a consistent approach.

What's the solution? My SalesRX.com online retail sales training program certifies your crew and creates opportunities for you to role-play different shopper interactions and tasks with your employees. This ensures they know and will use all the material, making your training and HR issues much easier.

Conversions increase, your UPT increases, and most importantly, your shoppers feel a true connection with your employees. You'll need to get more out of your crew in these times than ever. That doesn't happen by accident. The answer is SalesRX.