Word to the RetailWise XIII

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Keep an open mind when it comes to hiring people who are well educated, and trained, in another field.

Recruiting, interviewing, hiring and training takes up a lot of our time and resources. So, we tend to look for those who will be with us for the long term, assuming we want them to stay. And it’s very reasonable to do so.

But, there is a lot to be said for hiring the very best candidate even when there is no guarantee that they will stay with you. Here’s a little story for you below…

A few years ago, there were many unemployed teachers in a particular part of the country. These people had done all of the training and had received diplomas/degrees in the field. 

Because the number of qualified teachers vastly outnumbered the number of teaching jobs available, retailers found that they were receiving many applications, for Sales Associate and Assistant Management positions, from qualified teachers.

Many Retail Manager’s didn’t even bother to interview them based on the assumption that the individual would only stay with them until they found a position in their field. That may be true, but here’s why they might have missed out…

First of all, no employee comes with a guarantee. Any candidate can claim that they’re looking for a long term position with your retail company, but how would you know that was true? Maybe it is …and maybe it isn’t. As I said, employees don’t come with guarantees.

Second, well educated people may have the ability to learn faster; they may have more skill in dealing with your customers. In this particular case, their teacher’s training would make them perfect for training other staff members.  They might be better at absorbing product knowledge and better at dealing with the paperwork and other administrative duties. 

One of our Store Manager’s hired three ‘teachers’. One stayed for approximately 6 months, one stayed for over two years. The other one gave up the idea of teaching and worked to become a Store Manager herself. She succeeded and stayed with the company for several years.

All three were really good employees. All three excelled in their positions.

The thing is, what you stand to gain from hiring people who have been well educated – even in another field – could far outweigh what you stand to lose from turnover. 

After all, you’re going to experience staff turnover anyway…you simply can’t know who will stay with you and who won’t. 

So, don’t pass up a potentially great hire just because of their education and field of choice. Sometimes it can work out really well for you. And if they do leave after just a few months, you will have benefited in that case too.

Retail Business Academy

Bombarding customers with chatter and enthusiasm isn’t selling.

At DMSRetail Inc., we believe in engaging customers from the start and actively selling to them…but not in bombarding them.

Bombarding occurs when store staff have been improperly trained and/or badly managed. I’ll give you an example below…

I travel a lot and, because of the line of work I’m in, I always make a point of shopping my favorite stores in different cities. Upon entering one of my favorite specialty stores in a location far from home, a Sales Associate approached me near the front door and said “hello”. I replied with a smile and a friendly “hello”. So far, so good.

She immediately asked “What are you shopping for today?” I replied “Nothing in particular, just yet anyway.” Still good.

She then told me her name and mentioned the promotions that were going on in the store. She followed me too closely and continued to try to keep my attention and engage me with conversation. I hadn’t had any time to actually look at merchandise! I was being distracted by the Sales Associate. Now I was getting a little annoyed and perhaps it showed.

Finally, she left me alone to have a look around. Another Sales Associate, whom I encountered not more than one minute later, repeated exactly the same words as the first…except her name, of course. 

Perhaps they were intentionally tag-teaming me. Perhaps their Manager insists on this behavior. Who knows? Whatever it was…it wasn’t working and they should have realized that.

When the third Sales Associate approached me and started speaking to me, I turned and quickly headed for the front of the store…and straight out the door. 
What went wrong? Too much, too soon… spoken by too many. There was no rapport building going on. All I heard was canned chatter.

Each of these Sales Associates was doing what they think they have been trained to do. Each one was a bit too enthusiastic…not really genuine in their conversation with me. But the biggest mistake was that they were all working independently of one another with no concern, whatsoever, for how I might have been reacting to this. It was a circus!

The store wasn’t that big…and they could all see that I was being bombarded. I am not your average customer, and I was uncomfortable enough to want to get out of the store. Would a customer return to a place where they were made to feel uncomfortable? I’m thinking no. 

There is an art to selling. Good judgment is required; and subtlety helps.

Sales results will suffer if customers are being bombarded. The Store Manager should be able to see that this type of behavior is bad for business and should be able to do something about it. But if the Store Manager can’t see that this is a problem, or worse – if the Store Manager actually expects this type of behavior from Sales Associates – then District/Region/Head Office management may never know the reason for mediocre sales results.

Even a Mystery Shopping report will not likely turn up this kind of problem, and I’ll tell you why in a future issue of ‘Word to the RetailWise’. 

So, when you are training Sales Associates, make sure you train them completely. Make sure they know how to read the customer’s reactions and act accordingly. 

A great Sales Associate rarely sees a customer running for the exit!

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