Be a better retail sales coach

SIXTH STAR RETAIL ARTICLE

Be a Better Retail Sales Coach

Here are four tips on how to become a better retail sales coach.

1. Focus more on sales. That might sound obvious, but the fact is that almost 95% of all retail management coaching is focused on operations. Most managers are surprised to learn this - until they track it themselves. Managers who take a look often discover that they most often give feedback on tasks rather than on the behaviors and actions that directly impact results.

This isn’t surprising, because operational coaching is easier. There’s very little room for interpretation. She’s late or she’s not. He did the task or he didn’t. Coaching on selling and the customer experience is much more subjective. It’s a little harder to do and it’s more time consuming, but it’s also significantly more productive.

2. Work the floor with a coaching purpose. The most successful leaders we’ve worked spend between 20% or more of their time on the floor actively coaching employees on sales and the customer experience.

That might not seem like much, but when your starting point is that most managers do less than 5% of what I call active sales coaching, it’s a big improvement. Active sales coaching means observing employee(s) with customers, proactively giving feedback, roleplay/practice, watching associates apply the feedback, etc.

If you can spend 20% or more of your time on the floor actively coaching, you will see the results in your employees and end of day sales. The key is to schedule time when you’re doing nothing but working the floor with a coaching purpose.

3. Sales coaching is more than just reviewing numbers. I once worked with an owner who told me what a great sales coach she was. She showed me the individual and store data she collected, and said she reviewed it every day with her team. Kudos to her! She knew what a lot of owners/managers miss. Good data tells you what your employee’s strengths and growth opportunities are.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t turning that data and conversation into action. Telling is not coaching. Her opportunity to grow her people and business was to help the employee determine what behaviors and actions he/she should take to build on those strengths, and improve in areas that would impact sales and the customer experience.

She quickly changed how she was doing her one-on-one sessions. She became much more focused on what do, rather than the data. Not surprisingly, her store’s conversion and average sales quickly went up.

4. Improve your accountability. The feedback you provide and what you teach do not impact your sales at all. Zero! Nada! Nothing! 

It’s the application of that feedback, and learning by your employees, that makes the difference. It’s the application that elevates the customer experience. It’s the application that inspires the customer to make a purchase and/or buy more.

That means it is essential for you to know that your staff has applied what they’ve learned and the feedback you’ve provided them.

The fastest and most effective way is to observe them. Watch them with their next customer after you’ve worked with them. Another way is to have them report back to you after they’ve put your feedback into practice. You can also have them share examples with you at the end of their shift. 

I’m also a big fan of having staffers write down examples of how they applied the feedback or what they learned. A lot of people think they don’t have time for that, but rarely do you see a store too busy for it. (Except in November/December)

Remember this. Accountability isn’t about being a tough manager. It means that you’re following through to make sure every employee is applying what he or she has learned in order to be even more successful.  

So let me ask, which of the above resonates most with you? What actions will you take over the next week to become a better retail sales coach?

- Doug

Share by: