Retailers: The Most Conspicuous Thing You’re Not Doing
By Bob Phibbs
Retailers keep surprising me.
The music is pumped-up in their stores to try to fill the quiet, sterile environment where employees linger with Bluetooth gadgets in their ears.
Outside of the counter area, I rarely see anyone actually working with a customer.
Merchandise displays are often perfect (and untouched,) yet they are littered with signage offering discounts of 20-40%.
This is a picture of a struggling retailer… not a successful one.
Can they be making boatloads of money? I don’t see how.
What’s the most conspicuous thing that’s missing?
My mantra is:
Training is something you do, not something you did.
The lack of ongoing training is something unique to retail...
Athletes continually train.
Skincare professionals continually train.
So do accountants, teachers, and mechanics.
Why should retail employees be any different?
Oh right, because we pay hourly.
Or they get commission.
I went into a wonderful gift store in the Pearl District of Portland not long ago and was greeted by a young woman who, after a few moments, playfully asked me, “Have you ever seen a chicken like this?” as she held up a silly little chicken in a basket. Her grin grew into a big smile and when I said no, we both laughed. Her playful attitude had won me over, so when she encouraged me to explore the whole store, I did.
You can build a retail business on a woman like that.
I’m sure she didn’t hold up that silly chicken and say that same thing to everyone who walked into her store, but she clearly was trained to get her customers’ attentions. And that short interaction led to me to unexpectedly spend $25. She encouraged me to return, and when I’m in the area, I will because I want that experience again.
Every store needs ten employees just like her. It’s not hard to make it happen...
Just commit to training your employees.
That’s not having them go through a book, or put in a DVD, or watch some YouTube videos; it is providing them with professional sales training.
And even after they have finished a chapter or a lesson, it is not until they can recite it, that they will use it - from greeting a customer, to showing the benefits of the features of your best product.
Take 20% of your marketing budget and invest it in training your employees.
Of course, I think using SalesRX.com, my interactive online retail sales training, is the best because it presents the same proven information in a way unique to each learner. It’s world-class training that is trackable, certifiable and proven to create a selling culture. You can find out more at SalesRX.com.
In the olden days, you’d use your marketing budget only to invest in Sunday paper inserts, or postcards for special sales events a couple times of the year, or even in TV or radio ads.
That might - at best - have given you a boost for one day... maybe two.
Training your employees how to sell correctly will boost your sales every day.
In an age where the Internet lets customers discover your merchandise at sales prices from a variety of sources 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, your very existence no longer hinges on price; it hinges on your employees’ using their training every minute they're at work with every customer.
Now the only way to compete is to have employees who over-deliver on your sales floor.
You’ve tried discounts, you’ve tried ads, you’ve tried loyalty cards – why not try the most obvious and conspicuous place to invest – training your own employees?
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