Recently, we did a survey of over 600 in-store sales persons across industries. It turned out that over 80% of sales persons felt that they were inadequately trained. Most respondents said that they didn’t receive regular training (neither physical nor digital), and over 60% respondents confirmed that, there was no formal training even at the time of joining the role. In addition to the lack of regular training, high attrition, 6-8% per month, resulted in large changes in team composition within a span of year which made matters more complex.
It is important to realize that performance of in-store sales staff is vital not only from the tactical cost/benefit perspective but also because the sales staff interacts with the shoppers as the representative of the brand. How can brands and retailers then hope for a consistent customer experience when the team is inadequately trained? Well, there are many pieces to answer this question but for this post, we’ll stick to the training aspect and try to identify the gaps in training of field teams through observing them in action.
While we realize that organizations make multitude of efforts to train and skill their sales staff and to keep them motivated, we are highlighting 5 basic and widely observed mistakes in-store, not to discount those efforts but to help in improving the ROI of efforts. Here’s what your sales team might be doing wrong:
1. They are psychologically burdened by targets
When the team is over-pressurized and/or under equipped to deliver sales targets, they forget that the right way to work is to identify the needs of the shoppers and to help them buy a suitable product. Instead, shoppers are treated like numbers which can turn them off. Typical signs of these mistakes are urgency in the way they enquire about the price point that the shoppers have in mind, or trying to close the sale quickly without letting the shoppers speak.
2. They don’t want to talk about competition products
It is typical for the shoppers to compare and evaluate any buying decision by benchmarking a brand against its competition. At this point sales staff can gain their trust by comparing in detail, clearly mentioning the positives and negatives of self and competition products. However, what they might actually be doing is either talking trash about the competition or not speaking up at all due to lack of knowledge. This disappoints the shopper as the person they’re interacting with seems neither knowledgeable enough nor trustworthy enough.
3. Handling objections, but only those you gave them the script for
Objection handling is probably the most basic and most practiced skill which sales teams must have. But it is easy to identify that the team can manage responses to few scripted objections and might tend to lose patience when faced with new ones. There might be new situations as basic as shoppers refusing to share their contact details at the time of sale, or as complex as shoppers objecting to the terms of warranty. An appropriate response can only come from someone equipped to handle the same, and this has become more important with the emergence of online retail.
4. They are unable to close the sale
It gets a bit tricky here, as I mentioned in first point too, that how a too strong and too early attempt to close the sale might be bad for business. This might make it sound like the best way to close the sale is to not try to close, but this is not true either. Sales staff must focus on giving shopper the desired experience with means of demonstration and trial so that they experience the value. After that, it is about being completely available for the close, providing relevant information like financing and schemes, and helping them walk over the line to close.
5. They are not friendly to your shoppers
Yes, shoppers are not completely rational. Instead they might be extremely emotional given that they are already being chased by so many brands. It might thus be a very comforting experience for the shoppers if the interaction with the sales staff is a friendly one. It not only makes them come back to the store again but also adds great trust on the brand as shoppers feel friendly with the representatives of the brand. Many sales people lose this battle from the start with the un-friendly way they approach and greet the shoppers.We, at Channelplay, firmly believe that the selling process can be fun only when the person in-charge of selling enjoys the process as much as the person who is being sold to, which is the same with training. With this ideology, we have been working with various brands and retailers on a number of classroom and digital training programs, and we try to make every training program as long-lastingly impactful as possible.