If you’re reading articles about how to increase retail sales, you need to increase retail sales.
Right now, retail business is in jeopardy.
But even if you're planning for the future, to push a certain product or prepare for the holiday season, you’re in the right place. It’s time we tell you our secret of how to increase sales in retail.
The fastest, most cost-efficient way to increase retail sales is by engaging the retail sales associates.
Why Retail Sales Associates are the key to sales
Most marketing targets the consumer. We target the retail sales associate. Why? Glad you asked. If you’re a customer and you go to a store looking for a mid-priced non-commodity product (a TV, for example), a retail sales associate is going to come to you and ask you if you need help making a decision.
If you’re a manufacturer, you want retail sales associates on your side. Here’s where the problem arises - what if these sales associates know nothing or little about your product or company? People love talking about things they know, and if they don’t know your product, the thought of recommending it to customers wouldn’t even cross their minds.Ten times out of ten, they’re going to recommend a product they know, or work with two or three products they know and can compare. Spending a gazillion dollars to market directly to the consumer seems useless if that customer goes to the store and gets a different recommendation.
How to get store associates on your side
If retail associates are on your side, you have the most powerful marketing channel, and one of the largest (word of mouth) working for you. If retail employees are not on your side, you’re wasting some of your money on marketing, and you’re not going to see great numbers when it comes to actual sales.
We now know that if you want to hit (and exceed) your sales targets, you need retail sales associates on your side. (You can learn more about how big brands meet retail sales targets here.)That’s all well and good, but how do we even begin marketing to retail sales associates?
Surprisingly, the answer is pretty simple. Marketing to retail sales associates is done with training, motivation, and gamification. Well-executed, continuous product training allows sales associates to learn more about your products, its features and benefits, and why they should recommend it to consumers. Unfortunately, a lot of companies don’t put much thought into their retail sales associates training – they create a long, deep-dive product course every two months, and they expect that sellers understand and remember everything in it.
Imagine how much time it takes to organize a course, create the materials, reach the people, have them complete the course, and then collect feedback and measure results. People complete the retail sales associate training and forget about it in a week or two. All the time and resources the company invested in its product course has gone down the drain. What’s worse is that these companies often invest in learning management software that doesn’t truly help the learning process or the outcomes. The good news? There are ways in which you *can* make marketing to retail sales associates faster, more effective, and more affordable.
More Frequent Training
It’s a fact – people who complete long retail sales training courses forget most of what they learned within a week. If you want your training to stick and make an impact, you’ll have a better chance of doing that with more frequent training.
This is because the sales staff hears about your product/features/brand more frequently. Duh! But it’s not just that. Consistent training creates a more well-rounded and trusted consumer experience. RSAs are more confident in the information they share and are more accurate when comparing multiple products — and who doesn’t want to deal with a knowledgeable retail sales associate?
Micro training is way easier to create
Mini-courses and snack-sized trainings don’t require a lot of organization and resources. Instead of creating long, detailed courses every two or three months, try creating smaller courses every one or two weeks. Not only does it work better, but you have the chance to measure more interactions with your courses and improve your overall approach to building effective retail training materials.
When you present information in a simpler manner, retail sales associates are more likely to remember it and use it in their daily sales conversations. Plus, simplicity increases your mindshare among retail employees. Everyone loves it when things are simple.This brings us to our next point…
Keep your training simple and cover the 80/20 rule. If store associates know the most essential things about a product or a feature, it will make it easy for them to use that knowledge in sales conversations. A consistent micro-learning approach will allow for an effective and entertaining learning process, which naturally leads to more sales. Micro-learning also makes it easy to adapt training for mobile devices, which is the preferred medium of retail sales associates (no surprise there, considering their demographic).
Retailers mostly incentivize sales associates with commission. The salesperson gets a commission, the retailer and the product manufacturer increase their revenue, everyone is happy. There’s only one problem: retail sales associates are usually not well prepared to close as many sales as possible. Even if you give them a huge commission, if they don’t have the tools to make the sale, they won’t. So how about rewarding the learning process?
Sales happen when the retail sales associates have enough information about your product, and they can freely share and express their knowledge and opinion. In other words, you sell what you know. Remember - people like buying, but they do not like being sold. If your retail sales associate sounds too salesy, their recommendation will not be taken seriously.
If you want retail sales associates to have the information they need to have productive sales conversations, you need to incentivize learning.If you focus on giving your associates the information they need, and on motivating them to learn and use that information, that’s a total win-win-win. When you put the incentive on training and learning rather than making a sale, you’re putting the emphasis on self-improvement rather than sales numbers.This naturally leads to better engagement, a well-informed staff, and more closed sales.
Sounds great, but how do we incentivize training so we can turn our employees into persuasive, articulate, motivated sales machines?
Gamification was trendy a few years ago, but while everyone was talking about it, very few companies implemented it and used it efficiently. Gamification involves adding “game elements” to your courses so you can reward employees every time they learn something new or complete a course. It gives trainees instant gratification for completing tasks or courses in the way of loyalty points, scores, certifications, and more. Not only does this incentivize learning, but it also gives you feedback on how your course is performing and how much it engages people. Some gamification tools you can include in your retail sales training courses include:
- Short quizzes
- Points they can spend on rewards
By including these in your sales training, you’ll make learning more appealing, boosting engagement, and taking motivation to new heights. Of course, gamification in training is difficult to implement without a technological solution, which is one of the reasons we built SellPro.
Another critical part of your retail sales training is the ability to create performance reports.This is crucial for both product manufacturers and retailers because they can monitor how engaged people are in their courses, and at what cost. Moreover, they can compare these reports to their sales numbers and get a good idea of how effective their training efforts were. The only way to optimize and improve training is through data. You need credible, definitive reports that let you spot correlations and trends to make informed decisions.
Learning leads to Mindshare
Recent surveys are reporting that a whopping 70% of clients’ purchasing decisions in customer electronics are affected by what the retail sales associate recommends.This means that up to 70% more of your potential customers could be buying your product instead of a competitor’s product. If your competitor has a more significant mindshare than you, retail employees are more likely to sell their products than yours, especially when it comes to technology or innovative products. Our research shows that frequent, incentivized training increases your mindshare to a point where it’s natural for the retail employee to discuss your products instead of someone else’s, leading to more sales.
To learn more about communicating, engaging, and motivating retail employees, please see our guide: Winning the Hearts and Minds of Retail Store Associates.
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