The Difference Between Training And Educating Your Retail Sales Staff

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Randy, a friend of mine shared a story with me that might resonate with you about mixing up your sales process.

He was in a high-end retail shop and spotted a white shirt to try it on. He came out of the dressing room and the salesperson said, "Wow, that shirt looks great on you." Randy took notice, felt good at being complimented on his choice, picked up another and returned to the dressing room.

He came out, stood in front of the mirror and the salesman again said, "Wow, you look great in that shirt." At first he thought, wow, two in a row.

Then he saw a woman come out of the dressing room next to his and the salesman said... wait for it... "Wow you look great in that."

Randy returned to the dressing room, removed the shirt and left with nothing.

My Take
You can see from one aspect that the salesman was doing a great job of complimenting the customer. He aced his training and if there were no one else in the store, he might - might - have gotten away with it.

But the fact is, he didn't. Why?

One of three reasons:

  • Because he was either trained to say the exact same thing or
  • He had become lazy or
  • He never was educated how to mix it up his sales process.

That's a shame because the concept was right, just the implementation.

As you know, I train the Five Parts to a Successful Sale in my speeches, in my online learning platform SalesRX, and in my book.

One of the parts I like to be the same is "Good morning, good afternoon or good evening." I think it sets the stage that it is different than the rest of stores who are silent or can only say, "Can I help you?" It could be changed up I suppose but then I might just get, "How's it hangin' dude?" or "How are you today?"

Both of which are unacceptable.

The reason so many people struggle with retail sales training is that much of it is created like we were writing computer code, "If this... then do this." The reality is you can't script every interaction perfectly. That's why you also need to hire people who can be trained to a higher level of education.

As you train someone, you have to educate them on the why you want it done a certain way.

Not because "I told you so," but that it makes a better experience for the customer. Once they understand your goal is to honestly help customers choose from your merchandise, you'll never hear the same thing when the customer comes out of the dressing room because every customer is different.

Training is only the first step, high sales come from educating.