Updated April 11, 2023
Do you require your retail employees to be certified? If not, you may want to start thinking about it. Here is why certification is a good idea for your business.
An online retail sales training program can be the best way for a retailer to increase customer experience by turning their staff into sales professionals. Training courses presented online help salespeople learn and/or improve their selling techniques, skills, and processes.
The ultimate goal is to improve bottom-line results for brick-and-mortar stores struggling to compete with online retailers.
A recent survey shows salespeople who complete highly rated sales training programs have 10% higher close rates. Consider what 10% more closed sales would mean to your customer satisfaction and bottom line!
When I was working with a retailer a few years ago, I observed a new employee as he was brought into the back office. He was escorted to an old Dell computer and handed a stack of DVDs. "Watch these and when you're finished, come find me on the sales floor; your lesson on the basics will be done."
The employee dutifully put the DVD marked First into the slot, clicked, and as it began to load, he pulled out his smartphone from his pocket. While the earnest employee training video with pixelated heads continued for nearly 20 minutes, the future salesperson didn't look up once.
That retailer's training program was something to get through but not something to be taken seriously.
That's when I knew I had to come up with an employee training system that could truly change the behavior and sales process of associates.
For too long, retailers have given lip service to sales training. As a result, their customer experience has become more transactional and less about building long-term relationships. They have dusty manuals on shelves filled with training courses, or they might have purchased a DVD of some guy's feel-good training to value every customer as a guest. They might even have a dedicated trainer on staff.
But until there is proof the participant has learned the step-by-step strategic sales process in your training courses and agreed to use it, what good is any of that? And that's important, whether your program was instructor-led or an online learning experience.
There is a huge gulf between technical training and behavior training.
Product training would be if you wanted to carve a radish into a rose for a special dinner. You search on the web, find the video, and watch it. Once you understand how to do it, you're done. After dinner, you probably forget.
This is what most retailers have staked their lives on - teaching product knowledge. But frankly, until your salespeople learn how to engage a stranger, they'll never be able to fully use that product knowledge in your store because customers won't let them in enough to get to that point in a sale.
Behavioral training is like learning how to play the piano, ride a bike, or throw a ball. You can understand the notes on a D major scale, but knowing where the sharps are doesn't do much good until that skill is practiced repeatedly and becomes second nature.
You can describe to your son all it takes to ride a bike, but until he finds his balance, he won't be ready for the Tour de France or much else besides suffering a lot of scrapes on his knees.
So it is, too, with several corporate sales training programs.
There's very little someone can't understand immediately. Nothing is shocking in any part of a retail training session. It's not like you are telling them, "The moon is made of Velveeta cheese, and you're going to learn to fly to it today.". Instead, the basic principles in retail sales training make perfect sense. But just understanding them won't move the needle toward higher sales...
Unless and until you practice the training as part of a blended learning approach, you can struggle.
Benefits of Online Retail Sales Training
That's where effective sales training certifications come in. Certification is proof that the person who took the retail sales training courses understands and will be bound by them. The training sessions are only worth anything if they change behavior. That takes being accountable to actually use the knowledge learned in the sessions.
No salesperson can get a certification just from watching a video; the employee has to be engaged. That's why all of my streaming video retail sales training is interactive.
Each of my 90 three-to-five-minute lessons covers a specific part of the sales process like the right words to greet a customer or how to build rapport.
Along the way, I ask various questions to keep learners engaged. And they must answer each of the questions covered in the online learning interactive videos, or the program stops and waits for them. In this way, every learner takes a slightly different path to get the same result.
At the end of the sessions, like in a sales academy, is a quick test staff members have to pass at 100% or repeat the lesson.
It isn't designed as anything punitive - it is strictly to ensure the mind is engaged in learning. Video is by nature passive, and the mind gets lazy.
By asking questions, the mind has to access and consider new information. That builds neural pathways to new learning. Through coaching and sales enablement, learners can go deeper not just to be exposed to the opportunity to learn but also show they can do it and deliver better customer satisfaction to shoppers.
Getting A Sales Credential
A final sales certification screen comes up after every main course in SalesRX. It says, "I have taken all the tests successfully, all my questions have been answered, and I will use the information I have learned on the sales floor." It asks, Yes or No?
If the learner chooses Yes, they can print out a certificate in their employee file. If they choose No, I come back on again to let them know they can only finish by clicking that Yes button.
When they do, the sales trainer, sales manager, or owner now has a record that associates know what is expected of them. Do you know how much easier that is to manage should they not follow through?
Oh and this certification goes for whatever train-the-trainer certification criteria you have.
How To Get Started With Online Retail Sales Training
Employee training can be challenging in a retail environment. You can't take everyone off the floor, and you can't expect even a great sales trainer to work one-on-one with all of your store associates.
Once you get all your employees on the same page, they move from clerks to becoming retail salespeople. At that point, it is much easier for your store managers to coach and reward them for doing a good job.
Certified employees have helped thousands of retailers across the globe sell more, even with lower foot traffic, because they understood exactly how to create an exceptional experience.
Click below to learn more about my streaming online training for your retail crew.