Does Sales Training for Retail Make Sense? Part 2


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In a previous article 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.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Seth Brickner
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.


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