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Why Retail Sales Training Usually DOESN’T Work

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.

If you talk to enough retailers, you quickly learn that the sales training content usually isn’t the issue.  Sales training isn’t rocket science.  The way we want our staff to approach and serve our customers is really the same across all categories of retail. 

9 times out of 10, the biggest things standing in the way of success are a poor approach to training and the lack of follow up or reinforcement. 

If you are guilty of a bad approach to training and you know your program doesn’t have a continual coaching or reinforcement component to it, there are some realities of retail to consider before resuscitating your existing program:

1.  Time

Stores, managers and frontline staff are busy.  This means that the training process must be quick, while also being effective.  Most retailers have training programs that don’t accommodate busy store life and therefore, they fail.  Not because the training content wasn’t good, but because there isn’t time to deliver the training.  Inevitably, the robust training program HR designed isn’t even being used at store level! 

2.  Turnover

Staff turnover is a reality of retail.  The training must be continually available onsite to train new employees.  The majority of retailers I speak to have training sessions planned 3 or 4 times throughout the year.  This approach means that new staff ends up on the floor representing your brand with your customers and they won’t even have a glimpse at sales training for a couple weeks or even months! 

3.  Ease

The content must be easy to understand and apply.  The majority of staff hired in retail are not born “salespeople”. If you have a big fat training manual in your backroom that staff is required to read and you are calling that your official training program, this isn’t easy…and for sure, it’s not producing results!

4.  Sustainability

Training indicatives must become part of the culture of the store.  One-and-done training doesn’t cut it.  “Flavour of the month” training sessions; they don’t cut it either.  Training has to be ongoing and reinforced every month, every week, every day, and every shift for it to work over the long haul. 

If you want to get a look at an award-winning training system with proven results and with all the kinks worked out already, click here to book your private demo of our Get Selling online training system.  We’d be happy to give you the grand tour!

Blog Authors: Mary & Kim

Mary GordonKim McCutcheon

Mary Gordon and Kim McCutcheon have been supporting retail front lines for as long as they can remember. A dynamic duo, Mary and Kim understand what it takes to make training work at store level and know how to inspire, coach and support retail teams in all of their training endeavours.

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