Creating Strong Sales Associates

It takes a team to deliver winning results

Time and time again, customers walk in and out of stores without any regard to what they may want to buy. Instead, they are searching for an experience that leads them to want something so much that they reach for their wallets and impulsively purchase it.

While there are exceptions to every theory, this one is a classic tale that store employees in all parts of the world can relate to. What isn’t as common, however, is having salesperson help increase sales ... despite what products you may or may not be selling.
Creating a strong sales team is a vital part of any store’s success. Whether you have volunteers interacting with customers or paid employees delivering your customer care, consider how their actions ultimately affect your sales. Are they engaged? Do they ask questions? Who represents your store should be closely managed and trained to ensure the best sales your store can have.
Below are tips that any sales person can strive to strengthen — whether they are current sales rock stars or simply blending in with the customers.
Taking responsibility. Whether your shelves haven’t been appropriately stocked or your sales associates forget to mention that great sale item you just marked down, there is no excuse for sales associates who point blame at others. It’s important to identify the responsibilities you expect from your team, then hold them accountable for has not been done correctly or at all. This sense of responsibility will help increase their role as a sales associate, leading to stronger sales.
Asking Questions. Not understanding something or wanting to know more about something does not translate to “stupid.” Asking questions actually translates to “smart.” Encourage your sales team to speak up on what they want to know more about, as well as what they need to know more about.
Following Through. From customer communication to co-worker communication, having a sales team that follows through on their word with inquiries and on any issues that may come up is important in creating a strong sales environment. Letting things get dismissed, unfinished or ignored does nothing to strengthen your store sales. Encourage your team to complete both projects and conversations without missing a beat — or sales.
Welcoming Challenges. Throwing your team some surprises every now and again is a great way to see who is up for the challenge and who would rather sit it out. Identify expectations, deadlines or sales goals that wake your team up and challenge them to step outside of their comfort zones. Those that happily engage in these activities are typically your stronger sales players, welcoming the diverse scenarios that customer service brings.
Being Customer Focused. Sometimes being customer focused means losing a sale because it simply doesn’t make sense for the customer to buy something. However, more often than not, it means delivering stand-out customer service that consistently gains sales. Putting the customer first, the store second and then themselves is a great line-up to follow.
Recognizing Needs. Whether a customer needs a tissue or a co-worker needs some support with a store project, there are countless reasons that something will be “needed.” Sales associates who recognize these situations and act on them without being told are often the same sales associates who lead the charts with sales.
Providing Custom Care. Not all customers want the same type of customer support or have intentions to even want to engage with sales associates at all. The result? Sales associates who don’t know how to handle the multiple personalities of customers. Providing customer care that is more tailored to unique personalities and customer scenarios helps eliminate this and instead delivers more custom, memorable customer care.
Understanding Expectations. Bosses aren’t the only ones who identify expectations that need to be met. Customer do as well, even if they are not written in black and white. If a customer asks for something, a sales associate needs to address that specific request… not something else that they may be challenged to meet. Staying focused and delivering on expectations is important for strong customer service and again, sales.
Solving problems. In the world of retail, there will be problems that arise from customer care, product selection or lack of it and many other issues that may seem mundane. However, each of these problems should be reacted to with great care and comfort from sales associates. Those that can achieve this are more likely to also achieve stronger customer care in everyday, more expected scenarios.
Enjoying people. Let’s face it. If you aren’t a people person, you shouldn’t be in retail. If you hear your sales team gossip, talk poorly of customers, put down consumer situations or talk negatively about people in general, they aren’t ideal for a sales role. On the contrary, if they don’t talk and are the shy type, they may not be your best candidate for your sales floor, either. Really consider who is representing your store and how this impacts your sales.
Team Playing
Your sales team should work together as a team. Just like any great sport, retail demands a variety of people with a variety of strengths to deliver a winning performance. Within your own team, consider what each of your team’s strengths and weaknesses are, then identify the best way your team can collectively work together.
For those retailers that tend to fly solo, don’t ignore the power of being a one man or woman show. It’s a common scenario to only have one sales associate in a store at any given time, and that’s okay. The key to remember here is to be flexible in your responsibilities so that you can support customers based on their needs at any given time. And remember, the real team you have to lean on is your customers. They’re ultimately the captains of your store sport: sales.
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the founder of Retail Minded, a quarterly publication and online destination to support independent retailers. Additionally, Reyhle is the co-founder of the national Independent Retailer Conference, held annually in New York.

Originally posted Friday, May. 23, 2014

Tags: employee relations, retail management, retail minded