Retailers, especially those with many employees, often wonder what a good retail sales training program is and what they should pay for one.
That’s especially true if the team is in remote locations, raising concerns about its cost and effectiveness.
To address these concerns, we will discuss the elements of an excellent retail sales training program, the costs of those programs, and its cost to you for not using the right program.
There is a huge variety of retail salespeople worldwide, ranging from commission-only professionals to part-timers floating around in various sectors in large department stores with the best of luxury goods.
There is a wide variety of retail sales training programs out there. No matter the retailer’s size, training still needs to provide all high-quality training programs’ fundamentals.
A retail sales training program that doesn’t contain the following elements because of its premise is bound to disappoint.
You can’t know where you need to improve until you know where you are. A good retail sales training program begins with an assessment of the current capabilities of your sales staff.
Markers should include per-ticket transactions, average transaction amount, mysterious buyer interactions, gross margin, and more.
Salespeople are not required to have a list of things not to do but are often given anyway. Without a foundation for creating an exceptional experience for a customer, there isn’t much room for error in lists.
Sales training should provide clear expectations and actionable behaviors to retail employees. When they step onto the sales floor, they should think of everything they’ve been warned about, rather than what they’ve been taught to do.
Everyone learns better in small, clear parts. If they can learn everything in one sitting, a four-year degree can be earned in one semester. It takes time to absorb and process the recently received information.
The longer a training takes, the more things are lost in processing. Shorter sessions allow your salesperson to maximize retention, making the entire program more effective.
It’s essential to work with a well-experienced instructor to master the key concepts. If the trainer isn’t available or spends just a few hours, the team will have little time to interact.
The best programs keep experienced trainers within reach whenever the trainee needs them. They allow the employee to attempt the training safely before attempting the training on actual customers.
Because of the short training, many retailers essentially throw the apprentice into the deep end of the pool. That so-called “Sink or swim” method is the worst way to train because the sales floor is a proving ground.
An excellent retail sales training program will put trainees in front of customers only when they know the employee has mastered the concepts.
Monthly reviews are good materials for training. By the time the team members hear what they can do better, they’ve been doing it wrong for weeks. Instructors should be there to provide constant guidance until they have mastered the techniques they have learned.
Trainees must have mastered one section before moving on to another. Letting them proceed with the hope that they will return later will leave significant gaps in their training.
The training should teach techniques that are practical and work in a retail store. If the methods are impractical, your salespeople and customers will all be disappointed with the experience.
The techniques learned should be incorporated to the point of becoming reflex so that the personality of the individual salesperson can shine through the sales process. That can only happen through constant practice and reinforcement.
If you could learn something once and do it ideally for the rest of your life, athletes would not need coaches or coaches.
Before discussing the cost of a good retail sales training program, let’s look at what costs bad training. In terms of what you are paying for it, it may cost you very little.
You can pair trainees with experienced salespeople, pay them both their regular rate and ignore the cost of slowing down to an experienced salesperson and letting the trainees stand with their hands in their pockets.
Or you can have an instructor on staff who visits different stores as needed and talks to as many employees as they can get to show up.
Overall, what you’re paying for may not be that much. Still, you might be surprised at how poorly training your business is costing you in missed revenue and sales opportunities.
Several studies have shown that the dynamic training described here can increase winnings across the board by more than 15 percent.
If you’re not taking advantage of that 15 percent, your cheap training program could cost you dearly.
Starting with a modest 5 percent increase in conversions, you can immediately see how much profit you’re getting from a good retail sales training program and how much your current training is costing you.
Let’s say you sell about $100K per week on average $120 checks. This means that you are converting about 833 buyers into customers every week.
If the training resulted in nothing but conversions, your salespeople would convert an additional 42 customers in a week to a total of $105K in sales. That’s an extra $20K per month on conversions only.
However, an excellent retail sales training program also increases the per-ticket average. If we use the low-end of 5% again, your per-ticket sales increase to $126. Over a week, that adds up to an additional $5,250.
With your increased conversions, this adds up to $41,000 in additional revenue each month.
So, how helpful will retail training be to you, given that these numbers are on the low end of most studies?
Absolutely. Nothing to say about getting full margin on what is being sold.
Will you take overall ownership of the training process for the store? They should be behind the need for 100% training and believe in how it can increase sales.
With a company-wide workshop? by email? One by one? If this is not considered, it will not be that effective.
They should check if there is complete buy-in from retail managers to associates. This person on the floor will observe the learners’ expectations to ensure they use the learning, not just to complete it.
Measuring sales training ROI can justify the investment. There are hundreds of reports you can choose from. Still, you may want to take the organization’s temperature figuratively before starting your new training with some key metrics and comparing them at monthly intervals.
How does this relate to our customers, employees, and marketing programs? Set a goal of how many customers will buy per transaction, the average number of employees, and how it all relates to your marketing.
Pay attention to slow times of the year, busy holidays, holiday schedules, etc. Although you can be slow at times, never stop learning.
The effects of sales training should be reinforced in various ways if you expect the new behaviors to hold. Employee meetings are the best, but what about daily or out-of-the-moment rewards like gift cards?
This could mean a complete rewrite, tweaking, or addition. When introducing new training, just be sure to understand the challenges for senior employees who have learned the other way around.
Whether you spent it on bad training or lost it to bad sales techniques that try to close permanently, that money is gone. Sales training that focuses on ROI puts more of that money in your store, making it the most valuable training investment you’ll ever make.