25 July 2024, 11:41
By Adam Hankinson Mar 14, 2024

Upskilling retail sales teams (the right way)

Ready to refresh and revamp your furniture sales team? In this article, industry training specialist Adam Hankinson (Furniture Sales Solutions) dives into how to size up their training and development needs so that what you teach is right for them – and for your customers …

If you’re a furniture retailer, how should you begin to create a training needs analysis framework that grows your team, and your sales?

Always start with WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) when dealing with salespeople. The best reason for them to do something is because it benefits them.

Think about what difference one more sale per week might make to them. If they’re on commission, and you can work out that an average order is worth £40, for example, then done consistently that’s £2000 per year. That should get their attention.

Spotlight on criteria

Let’s outline what we’re looking for. We want our sales team to: shine in attitude; vibe with customers; ask great questions; listen actively; build rapport; offer spot-on solutions; close deals with finesse; communicate like pros; understand finance options; have an eye for design; and ace follow-up. Not too much to ask?!

You might ask them collectively: “In each of these areas, what does good, better and best look like?”

By including them in the definition of best practice, you’re actually letting them co-design their own job description. They cannot argue with you about where the bar is after that.

Use data

Get creative with how you gather data. From client surveys and customer feedback to casual chats and mystery shoppers, from shadowing them in action to checking their performance stats, mix it up to get a full picture of where they stand right now. This ensures you’ve covered all the feedback loops that you might use in the future to measure progress.

Agree common thread and individual opportunities

You should prioritise one or two team objectives per week, such as, “Everyone is to bring their A game from 9.00am Monday morning, and this is now the agreed minimum standard of attitude for everyone,” and, “Each salesperson has one individual skill that they agree is an area of development for them to work on.”

Play to your strengths

Every player is unique and good at something with your selling framework. Get them to identify these strengths, highlight them and praise them both publicly and privately. It’s always better for people to play to their natural strengths.

Get the team to do the training

You’ll be amazed how your team will grow if you trust them with their own development, and how creative they can be, given the right environment to thrive in.

Ask them to design short, impactful training sessions of various types and styles that gradually develop each of the areas they have already identified. Ask them to rate how helpful each of these sessions have been, and encourage fun activities, quizzes, presentations, interactions and team games to make learning fun.

Measure yourselves

Collectively, you already know what you’re looking for, by consistently focusing on how you’re doing against this benchmark: “How would you score yourself on closing against our agreed criteria of saying X, Y and Z?”

Most people are honest and objective: “OK, you’ve scored yourself a 7. What would make you an 8?”

This keeps everyone continually working on getting better. This is the real reflection of a ‘professional’ salesperson – they’re interested and take pride in how well they do their job, not just their results.

By creating an organic approach to the development of your sales team you really will see them help, support and encourage each other to grow and improve. And guess what? Your sales, reputation and customer delight will all improve too!

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