Retail Employee Training: How To Help New Employees Succeed

Bob Phibbs
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Helping new employees succeed in your retail store is best accomplished with retail sales training that offers practical skills.

Practical skills are those that the motivated salesperson can put to work right away, not concepts that lend themselves to subjective interpretation.

Rather than general mantras "our customers should be treated like kings - or queens", solid retail store staff training offers two primary benefits - knowledge and confidence. Specific, relevant knowledge helps new employees to feel secure in their actions.

That security produces a sense of confidence that is demonstrated verbally and non-verbally, increasing sales success and business profitability.

Without confidence, associates frequently sell by offering discounts or talking up your clearance merchandise. That won't make you profitable.

How to go about retail employee training

Here are some actionable steps you can take:

1. Get them comfortable with your products

2. Get them comfortable talking to strangers

3. Get them to notice their body posture

4. Use online retail sales training to make it easier.

See also: 5 Critical Skills How to Coach Retail Salespeople

Let's go deeper...

Developing a solid foundation

When a customer has basic questions about a product or service and your retail staff are unable to provide solid, knowledgeable answers, the sale is on its way to being lost.

Furthermore, the potential customer's opinion of the retailer has just taken a negative hit. Of course, they won't tell you that. They just won't return.

The foundation of successful retail sales training is a thorough knowledge about what is being sold.

When not fully familiar with a product, customers expect a salesperson to help them. If they don't, the customer goes to their smartphone and may then shop from a competitor while still standing in your store.

Knowledgeable staff build trust and trust makes sales, and better yet, repeat customers.

Communication skills are essential

Teaching practical communication skills is one of the most important elements of successful retail employee training. All the knowledge in the world won't help if your new salespeople lack the skills to communicate that information effectively.

Skills for effectively communicating information include such things as using a professional, not casual, tone of voice, clarity in expression, such as not using slang or jargon, the proper type of eye contact, and remembering not to over-talk or interrupt.

We used to feel good associates just came to us with those skills but nowadays, some of the most basic skills must be taught by retailers. And if you think it's all about tightly scripted employee-customer interactions. It isn't.

Those have nothing to do with the skills required for effective communication.

Often, the type of training that focuses so heavily on what is said to customers, neglects the other side of the communication equation – listening.

Through listening, more is learned about the customer and what they are looking for, and an associate is better able to meet that need, as well as take advantage of natural opportunities for upselling.

Understanding the role of non-verbal communication

Often new employees don't realize how they are perceived by others and fail to understand the positive and negative potentials of non-verbal communication.

Smart retail sales training addresses this directly, discussing how clothing, hairstyling, and other personal appearance choices can affect interactions with the public.

Posture matters

A person slouching their way through the store, with a sour or surly facial expression doesn't look approachable.

The sales associate who basically wants to avoid customers and play on social media should work for a competitor, not you.

Overcoming a casual culture

Retail employee training helps to overcome the effects of an increasingly casual culture. Today, people enter the workforce at all ages not knowing that casual styles of speech and dress are not appropriate for work.

They haven't had direct teaching regarding courtesy, communication, and professional behavior.

Often, new hires are eager to succeed, but simply haven't yet gained the skills to do so.

Investing in educating them gives these employees the tools they need to be as successful as they – and you – hope they'll be.

Read also: Bad Customer Service Examples: 50 Things Retail Employees Shouldn't Do

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