In the retail sector, we’re pretty good about holding our store managers accountable.  We crank out all kinds of objectives and measurements to make sure that each location can ‘hold its own’ as a separate business unit … and heaven help the Store Manager who isn’t up to snuff!

But are we just as diligent in holding District Managers accountable?  Generally speaking, the answer is “No”.

Recently, The Retail Council of Canada, in partnership with WCG International Consultants Ltd., conducted a member survey to identify training and development benchmarks.  The insights from the survey were encouraging, but also show that we have to dig a bit deeper and really take a hard look at what we are doing (and what we’re not doing!) when it comes to delivering training at store level. 

My ‘never-fail’ assistant reminded me of my need to write this blog while I was on the golf course this week.  So, over the course of 18 holes a few things started to occur to me:

  1. My golf game needs a lot of work!
  2. I should invest in a golf ball manufacturing business
  3. Golf is a lot like selling

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! 


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