It’s not too often I get a chance to step out from my “behind the scenes” role in supporting retailers to actually sell on a retail sales floor, but I did just that a few weekends ago.  I had the pleasure of working at a new shop that a good friend of mine recently opened in beautiful downtown Ridgeway.  Ridgeway is a quaint town in the Southern Niagara Region that offers a main drag filled with unique, independently owned shops and restaurants.  Once a year, this small town attracts about 20,000 visitors during its somewhat famous Ridgeway Festival.  So, naturally, I was enlisted as back-up-help for what is always expected to be one of the busiest weekends of the entire year for the local retailers. 

Metrics?” you say.  “Are we talking about numbers here?  Don’t you know that everybody hates crunching numbers?  What do you think we are, anyway, a bunch of bean counters?”

Hate to disappoint you, loyal readers, but we happen to love numbers.  Especially when they add up to increased sales and profits!  If you want to drive store results over the top, this is an area of your business you’ve just got to master.

NO Product Knowledge = NO $$

As a reader of our blogs, you’ve no doubt followed our consistent theme of ‘customers are more informed and demanding than ever before’.   That’s the single force that’s driving so much change in retail today.

With that in mind, ask yourself how you would rate your own Product Knowledge (PK) on a scale of 1 to 10.  10 means you’re an expert.  1 means you shouldn’t be on the floor. No doubt, you’re more an expert on some things than others in your store.  So, come up with what you believe is your ‘average’ PK score.

What did you rate yourself? 

I speak to retail ops leaders and retail store managers on a daily basis and the discussions are typically surrounding getting the store staff to perform better. 

Performance issues always lead back to the topic of sales training and then I have to ask, “What’s working about your sales training and what’s not?”  Most retailers are suffering from the same performance issues, so I gathered the responses from some of my past conversations and noticed a few common threads.  So, for this week’s blog, I thought I’d share what I know about why your sales training isn’t working for you.

Are You Passionate About Performance?

Passionate sales people are happy and productive – they radiate energy, interest and commitment.  Prospective customers walking into the store feel this energy and interest and respond positively to it.  They relate more quickly to passionate people and are more likely to accept their assistance and advice.

In this game, focus is everything.  If you have it (and use it!), you win.  If you don’t, you get eaten alive by your hungry competitors.  It’s just that simple.

So how do you rate?  Are you truly focused on what’s important?  Or are you actually concentrating on the daily menu of distractions served to you by your boss, your shareholders, your competitors and your staff?  Don’t answer too quickly now.  Our behaviour speaks much louder than our good intentions, and sometimes one isn’t congruent with the other.

I’ve had the pleasure of representing Graff Retail at the Retail Council of Canada annual STORE Conference since 2009.  This year, the conference was better than ever, with the biggest names in global retail speaking at the event; and our own Kevin Graff as one fantastic emcee! 

Even Abraham Lincoln once said (we're paraphrasing here) "If I had 6 hours to chop down a big tree, I'd spend the first 2 hours sharpening my axe."

Powerful advice from a very successful man.  In a few words, it speaks volumes about the importance of preparation, doesn't it?

The term omni-channel is everywhere these days.  It can sound pretty intimidating and confusing for most.   To simplify it, just think of your customers and how they now expect to interact with your brand/store seamlessly across all of your platforms.  They expect a smooth and nearly invisible transition from your website to your mobile platform to your stores.  Multiple channels to deal with your customer … but you need to think of just one customer and expect they’re already interacting with you across all platforms.

That’s pretty heady stuff for marketers and the folks in IT.  But what about all the staff running and working in stores?  What does it really mean for them?

Let’s get this out of the way right up front.  I think I know a lot. And, the guy I work for?  Well, he thinks he knows even more!

But the most important thing we know is that what we actually know is just a very small fraction of what there is to know.  Yes, I’m confident in my knowledge, but more than that, it’s my awareness of all the things I don’t know (and that’s a lot!) that drives me to learn, research, study and grow.

What about you?  How much do you think you know about retailing, selling, managing staff, running a store, or building a business?  You pick the topic.


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