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Does Sales Training for Retail Make Sense? Part 2 Seth Brickner

In a pre­vi­ous post on this blog we noted the amaz­ing ROI that sales train­ing can pro­vide for retail employ­ees.  Why, then, is this type of train­ing sel­dom used in a retail environment?

Some long-held beliefs hold that it doesn't make finan­cial because:

  • Employ­ees prob­a­bly won't be around long enough to recoup the invest­ment in their training.
  • Since they're typ­i­cally non-commissioned, these employ­ees don't have a vested inter­est apply­ing sales skill to their jobs.
  • For the type of entry-level jobs that retail sales­peo­ple often occupy, there's no need for sales train­ing because cus­tomers already know what they need.

We can address each of these from the point of view of the employee.  Let's return to our pre­vi­ous exam­ple of Annie, an entry level retail employee who earns $9.74 per hour and works 30 hours per week.

  • As an entry-level, hourly employee, is Annie likely to stay with her employer long enough to recoup the cost of the train­ing? If the train­ing helps her increase her sales by only 8%, she'll only have to work another two and a half weeks after the train­ing for her employer to recoup the train­ing investment.Annie has addi­tional rea­sons for stay­ing beyond the aver­age tenure for her posi­tion. The new skills will allow her to do her job bet­ter, and most peo­ple who feel com­pe­tent at their jobs stay longer than those who do not.
  • Annie may also hope that if she con­tin­ues to do well at her job, her employer will make fur­ther con­tri­bu­tions to her skill devel­op­ment through addi­tional train­ing. These invest­ments made on her behalf make Annie more valu­able in the mar­ket place, and may even­tu­ally lead to higher wages. She there­fore has every rea­son to apply what she's learned in her daily work practices.
  • Finally, as Annie gets to know her cus­tomers she'll learn their buy­ing habits and be able to sug­gest prod­ucts that com­ple­ment their pur­chases. This is part of offer­ing com­plete ser­vice; it's also more fun to sell this way. The bet­ter she can help her cus­tomers with their needs and not just the one or two items they may have requested, the more Annie's cus­tomers will appre­ci­ate her and the more she'll enjoy her job. This will rein­force both her desire to use the skills from the sales train­ing and her sat­is­fac­tion with her cur­rent employ­ment situation.

The num­bers used in these cal­cu­la­tions are based on the most recent retail data avail­able from the U.S. Depart­ment of Labor's Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics.  The val­ues may shift over time, but the enor­mous ROI for retail sales train­ing sug­gests an invest­ment that will remain attrac­tive for many years to come.

Seth Brick­ner is a Devel­oper and Facil­i­ta­tor with Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems Inter­na­tional. In addi­tion to train­ing and devel­op­ment, his back­ground includes edu­ca­tion, tech­ni­cal sup­port and cus­tomer ser­vice. When not trav­el­ing or in front of a com­puter mon­i­tor, Seth can be found run­ning, cook­ing, play­ing gui­tar, read­ing, con­vinc­ing him­self he can sing, or enjoy­ing the hik­ing trails of Colorado.
6 Does Sales Training for Retail Make Sense?   Part 2
Seth Brickner
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