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How should sales staff be trained to treat customers?

  • News
  • October 9, 2018
  • Sarah Dunn
How should sales staff be trained to treat customers?

As part of our Five Days of Finance series, we asked customers how they like to be treated by sales staff. Then, we asked retailers how they train sales staff to treat customers. Are the two results aligned? And how important are salespeople themselves anyway? Read on to find out.

If you’re a retailer, do you train your staff in any of the sales techniques we discussed in Part 1?

A good 75 percent of retailers let us know that they trained their staff to approach shoppers attentively and immediately – a tactic preferred by 60 percent of shoppers. Another 25 percent train staff in upselling, but the more popular cross-selling and personalised product suggestions seem to be being neglected.

Have you ever contracted a company to train your sales team?

A clear-cut 50 percent of respondents outsource their training.

How often are training sessions for your sales team held?

Responses for this query were right across the board, with just about every variation equally represented. The greatest percentage of votes was for “Daily” and “Never”, with each getting 25 percent of responses.

Do the compensation packages for your sales staff include any of the following? (Commissions, non-cash perks, percentage-based bonuses).

More than half of respondents indicated their staff didn’t get any extra perks, but of those who did, commissions were the most common with 25 percent of the vote. Non-cash perks such as store vouchers and percentage-based bonuses each got 12.5 percent.

How often do you encourage your sales staff to approach a customer?

Half of all respondents favoured “Greeting, then one follow-up,” which seems to fit customer preference as well. The other responses were fairly evenly spread across two follow-ups and no follow-ups, although one keen bean did indicate they taught their staff to “Keep approaching the customer repeatedly until they leave or buy something”.

Do you collect customers’ details in a database? If yes, how often do you contact them?

An encouraging 87.5 percent of respondents indicated they did collect customer details, in line with best practice. Most of those who did contacted their database infrequently, with monthly and weekly also popular choices.

How important do you believe sales staff’s behaviour is in securing sales companywide?

For this query, we asked retailers to rate the importance of their sales staff’s behaviour in securing a sale from zero, meaning “irrelevant”, to 10, “more important than any other aspect of the company”. Half of respondents gave their staff a rating of seven, 25 percent voted eight, and a further 25 percent rated sales staff a 10.

If you’re a salesperson, can you share any tips for us to pass on to others?

Tips ranged from the deceptively simple – “Be genuine” and “Enjoy your job and people” – to a suggestion that salespeople keep a register of shoppers’ interests for later reference. Customer engagement was widely acknowledged to be king, and so was being knowledgable about the product.

Here’s a stand-out that covered all the bases:

Engage the customer. Respect their need to have a look around on their own. Show an interest in their product selections. Share experience of the product. Generally make them feel welcome, special and show appreciation for them choosing you as they generally have a lot of options. In my case as a specialised needlework store, we encourage them to attend classes and visit exhibitions and other industry related events. That is why I have been in business for 35 years. My customers generally love me.

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