Training Sales-Floor Staff
As the saying goes, "You only have one time to make a first impression." This is especially true of a relationship between a customer and the sales staff. The first step to ensure a positive interaction is to hire employees who "get it". They need to:
- Be open to selling strategies
- Understand the role they play between the organization and the customer
- Be willing to identify methods for improving their own customer service capabilities
Every retailer knows that each staffer represents the company to the customer in any given interaction. One negative experience can wipe out 10 positive ones in a heartbeat. Employee training programs are essential to teaching and reinforcing organizational policies and strategies.
Whether you provide training in-house or hire outside consultants, training curricula should be a mix of:
- The organization's business policies and practices,
- Personnel development
- Customer service
- Selling strategies
Business policies and practices are central to the company's policy manual. A complete employees' manual sets overall standards, brings new hires up to speed more quickly and increases overall efficiency and professionalism.
Do not underestimate the importance of a clear, concise manual in a selling environment. Well-defined employee policies can settle disputes before they start and protect both you and your staff from mixed signals and the potential for litigation.
A retailer's policy manual and training protocols should clearly define corporate dress codes . After all, this is where that critical first impression comes into play. A highly trained and well-groomed professional naturally will win the respect of valued customers.
Body language and attitude send intrinsic signals to the customer. The expression, "It's not what we say, but what we do," comes into play through unspoken feedback. The indifference of a slouch or the confidence of direct eye contact influences customer perceptions. Employees become aware of their own habits through training, customer feedback and mystery shopper reports. A holistic view of employee performance should include visual, spoken and unspoken criteria.
Systemized selling practices incorporate the vision, values, and goals of the organization into the practical selling applications defined in the process manuals, organizational flow charts and job descriptions. Just developing a comprehensive plan is not enough. Conveying your message to the selling staff must be reinforced in simple to understand, detailed benchmarks until they demonstrate proficiency.
Videos/audio instruction, flow charts, computer screen shots, role playing and testing the step-by-step instructional manuals (be sure they are up-to-date and accurate) with clearly defined results are some of the ways to ensure the best performance.