What Makes a Good Retail Sales Training Program?

By Bob Phibbs
create retail sales training program

Retailers, especially those who have a large number of employees, often wonder what makes a good retail sales training program and what they should be paying for one.

This is especially true if those employees are in far-flung locations which naturally raises concern about its cost and effectiveness.

To address these concerns, we’ll discuss the elements of a good retail sales training program, the costs of those programs, and what it’s costing you to NOT use the right program.

Elements of a Good Retail Sales Training Program

There’s a huge variety of retail salespeople around the world, from commission-only professional salespeople handling the best of the best luxury goods to part-timers floating among different areas in large department stores. As such, it’s safe to say there’s probably a huge variety of retail sales training programs out there.

No matter a retailer’s size, training still needs to provide the foundational elements that all top-quality training programs have in common.

A retail sales training program that doesn’t have the following elements as their basis are destined to disappoint:

  • Objective Assessment. You can’t know where you need to improve unless you know where you are. A good retail sales training program begins with an assessment of the current abilities of your sales staff. Markers should include per-ticket transactions, average transaction amounts, mystery shopper interactions, gross margins, and more.

  • Can Do Instructions. Salespeople don’t need a list of things not to do but often are given them anyway. Without a foundation of how to create an exceptional experience for a customer, don’t do lists leave lots of room for error. Sales training should provide retail employees clear expectations and actionable behaviors. When they step on the salesfloor, they should be thinking about all the things they’ve been taught to do, instead of the things they’ve been warned against.

  • Brief Sessions. Everyone learns better in small, clear chunks. If they could learn everything in a single sitting, a four-year degree could be earned in a single semester. It takes time to absorb and process new information. The longer a training takes, the more things get lost in processing. Shorter sessions allow your salespeople to maximize retention, making the entire program more effective.

  • Mastery With a Trainer. Working with an experienced trainer is crucial to mastering key concepts. If the trainer isn’t around or only spends a few hours a month at each store, then employees have little time for interaction. The best programs put experienced trainers within reach whenever the trainee needs them. They allow the employee to try the training in a safe space before trying it on actual customers.

  • Mastery With Customers. Due to shortened training, many retailers essentially throw the trainee into the deep end of the pool as they say, “Remember what you learned.” Sink or swim is the worst way to train because the salesfloor is the proving ground. A good retail sales training program will put trainees in front of customers only after they know the employee has mastered the concepts.

  • Fast Feedback. Monthly reviews are useless for training. By the time the employee hears what they could be doing better, they’ve been doing it wrong for weeks. Until they have mastery of the learned techniques, trainers should be there to provide continual guidance.

  • Progress After Success. Trainees should have mastery of one section before moving onto another. Letting them skip ahead with the hopes that they’ll go back later will leave large gaps in their training.

  • Practicality. Training must teach techniques that are practical and actually work in a retail store. If the techniques are impractical, then your salespeople and customers will all become frustrated by the experience.

  • Permanent Practice. The learned techniques must be ingrained to the point of becoming reflex, so the individual salesperson’s personality can shine through the sales process. The only way this can happen is through constant practice and reinforcement. If people could learn something once and do it perfectly forever, athletes wouldn’t need coaches or trainers.

Discover how to get started with retail sales training with this comprehensive primer

The Cost of Poor Training

Before discussing what a good retail sales training program costs, let’s look at what poor training is costing you. In terms of what you’re paying for it, it may be costing you very little.

You may pair trainees up with experienced salespeople, paying them both their regular rate and ignoring the cost of slowing down an experienced salesperson and having trainees stand around with their hands in their pockets. Or you may have a trainer on staff who visits different stores as needed and speaks to however many employees they can get to show up.

Overall, what you’re paying may not be that high, but you may be surprised at just how much it’s costing you.

Numerous studies have shown that the dynamic training described here can increase wins by more than 15% across the board. That’s 15% more shoppers becoming customers. That’s 15% more sales per ticket. If you’re not capitalizing on that 15%, then your inexpensive training program ends up costing you quite a bit.

Good Retail Training ROI

Starting with a more modest 5% increase in conversions, you can quickly see just how much you have to gain from a good retail sales training program, and how much your current training is costing you.

Let’s assume that you sell about $100K per week on average checks of $120. That means you’re converting about 833 shoppers into customers each week. If the training increased nothing but conversions, your salespeople would be converting an extra 42 customers a week, for total sales of $105K. That’s an extra $20K a month just on conversions.

However, a good retail sales training program also increases per-ticket averages. If we use the low end of 5% again, your per-ticket sales climb to $126. Over the course of a week, that adds up to an additional $5,250. When combined with your increased conversions, that all adds up to $41,000 in additional revenue each month. So how much would retail training be worth to you, considering that these numbers are on the low end of most studies?

Exactly. To say nothing of getting full margin on what is being sold.

Retail Training Investment Costs

As an example for the cost of a retail training porgram, SalesRX.com, our online retail sales training program, is designed to return a positive ROI. It provides your employees with 24/7 access to all the tools and information they need to learn, master, and refresh critical sales skills. SalesRX is $39 per employee each month. Enterprise level discounts are available for retailers with 75 or more employees.  When you are looking for a retail program, we trust that you will use our program as the gold standard.

While that may involve paying more than your current training, it will end up costing you less.

Money that walks out the door is money lost. Whether you spent it on poor training or lost it to poor selling techniques that try to always be closing, that money is gone.

Sales training that is focused on ROI keeps more of that money in your store, making it the most valuable training investment you’ll ever have.

The best retail sales training program can be now be delivered online. Click the button to start to discuss your needs.

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