Should Your Retail Sales Training Be In-House or Online?

By Bob Phibbs

online retail sales trainingThe long-held belief for getting your retail salespeople all on the same team has been that in-person training is the only way to do things.

Bring in managers, assistant-managers, team-leaders, or some combination thereof and tell them to bring back what they've learned to the rest of the staff.

That's the way that it’s done; that’s the way it has always been done.

Which was fine; for awhile.

But this strategy was inherently flawed. If you’re only telling your top sellers what they need to know then you have got to appreciate that they will put their own spin for how your instructions and training should be interpreted. That was an accepted fact that before now was just a part of the program – before online retail sales training.

When possible a daylong event with me can be the impact day where everyone is trained and motivated to adopt the selling program I teach. But when I leave, then what?

Until now, retailers had to go it alone for the most part.

Online training gives you accountable information transfer and a strategy to turn your goal of retail sales training into action.


This is key; no facts get lost from person to person.

Have you ever noticed a momma bird feeding her babies? She feeds her biggest first, then the smaller ones, and then the smaller ones. There is a reason the runt baby birds often don’t survive. The same happens when your best and brightest are trained and then they are to give the information to the newbies. To finish the analogy, with online retail sales training, you get to put the best worm right into every baby bird’s mouth every time.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Ability to track the uptake and effectiveness of your programs down to region, district and store levels.
  • Employees can send questions and receive real-time answers.
  • Actionable, impactful videos designed for today's learner.
  • Content taught by top retail sales trainer.
  • Certificate of completion to ensure they know their stuff.
  • Engaging, entertaining user-friendly interfaces that focus the learner.

For your managers, look for things like:

  • Courses just for managers so they can make the retail sales training stick.
  • Instant access to a suite of measurable features and tools to track how your employees are doing for reward or counsel.
  • One-on-one training delivered to your units anywhere in the world.
  • Scorecards to see how your employees are progressing.


A bonus of this direct-interface is giving your employees a strategy to use the information they’ve been given; so that the result is consistent across your brand. Employees should be able to learn from one source how to:

  • Be genuine, know how to approach, engage and sell the customer.
  • Be more human in an increasingly inhuman world.
  • Build rapport.
  • Get customers to return.
  • Get your merchandise out the door.
  • Make every stage of a sale meaningful.
  • Meet a customer's needs but encourage a customer's wants.
  • Move through every step of a sale.
  • Get the customers to say "Thank you" instead of beat your employees up for a discount.
  • Sell from confidence.

In Sum

Online retail sales training isn't a cure-all if you've hired poorly, have a poor selection of me-too merchandise or a lousy location.

But it can help you have a benchmark level of service that will not only provide an exceptional experience for your customers but also move your merchandise.

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