How On Site Sales Assist Helped Double Sales?

How On Site Sales Assist Helped Double Sales?

When you think about On-Site Sales Assist, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it another salesperson, is it a clerk who processes the transaction, or is it maybe a person that helps re-stock and bring the product out?

That’s what I thought until I was presented with an opportunity to bring in a sales-assist team for one of my 18-day events and I had a decision to make. It was tough because I had the budget to do so but I couldn’t see the value in doing so.  

I have always struggled with the concept of hiring a team of people to “assist in sales” mainly because I thought these teams of people are not fully immersed with my brand and because I couldn’t justify getting help when my team was big enough to handle the volume without any help.

Related Article: When is Employee Training the Right Solution for Low Sales Productivity?

I evaluated the pros and cons and decided that for this particular event I would give it a shot. The presentation the team put together changed my paradigm of what a sales assist team is and how they will benefit my event. With more than a pinch of hesitation, I embraced this partnership and launched the event.

On Site Sales Assist

 

Two days into the event I was already sold on the idea of hiring a sales assist team. Here are the 3 reasons why:

1. They were special event experts

Although my team was composed of sales professionals a lot of them have not done special events before. Selling at trade-shows, off-site events and special events is very different than selling in a retail location. We were targeting customers who had no intention of buying our product before engaging in a conversation with us and the sales assist team did exactly that, engaged walk-by traffic in conversations.

After they engaged them in a conversation, they were able to filter the opportunity customers with a few questions and bring in a sales professional to take over the conversation. They had designed games and activities to help engage the crowd without focusing on our product directly. The purpose of the activities and games was to show the crowd a good time, create a memory, and make people comfortable in our environment.

2. They allowed my team to do what they do best

By not having to worry about bringing customers in and trying to engage a crowd, my team was able to focus on what they do best. They spent a lot of their time discovering needs, connecting with customers, presenting solutions, and closing sales. They didn’t have to think about learning a new skill of pro-actively starting a conversation about their product with a crowd that 10 seconds prior to walking by our booth had no intention of buying our product. The whole process really made my team comfortable and feel less out of place.

3. Ultimately they cost less

After seeing the benefits of having a separate team to do the special event type work I started thinking of making this a permanent process for all my off-site events. After looking at the costs involved in hiring temporary staff, hiring a recruiter, designing a training program and turning these employees over as much as I would have to, hiring an on-site sales assist agency is much more cost-effective and better equipped to add value.

About Retailors Group

The team at Retailors Group has over 15 years of retail sales and field marketing experience. Retailors Group takes the time to understand your brand and align your core values into a tailor-made solution that builds a long-lasting relationship with your consumers.

We offer services in Experiential Field Marketing, On-site Sales Assist, Retail Management, and Digital Marketing.


How Do Poor Standards Impact Sales in Retail?

How Do Poor Standards Impact Sales in Retail?

My sales team always asked me, how do poor standards impact sales? Why can’t we just go and close sales? After all, that is what you need us to do isn’t it?

First, let’s explore how poor standards impact sales, then we can discuss how to get your sales team to buy into that concept.

What is the definition of poor standards in salespeople and how do we define good standards?

Related Article: When is Employee Training the Right Solution for Low Productivity?

The world of Retail is comprised of a wide range of products. Depending on the industry, the impact a good sales team can make varies. In some industries, the difference between a bad and a good sales team can lead to 3, 4 even 5 times more sales. In other industries, the difference a good sales team can make is less impactful (excluding all other factors such as merchandising, promotions, price drops, etc…). The pay structure is generally aligned with the impact salespeople make. In a high impact environment, the commission structure in retail can be very lucrative, surprising to a lot of my colleagues outside of retail.

poor-standards-impact-sales-retail

So, let’s define poor standards:

  1. Lack of big picture understanding or buy-in: When the team doesn’t understand or has not bought into the company vision and mission, the commission structure acts as the biggest behaviour driver. In this case, the team uses their own tactics to close sales, sometimes with disregard to the long-term impact of the interaction, sale, and customer experience. This has led to the negative connotation of the “used car salesperson” position. More often than not, in this environment, the sales team forgets that in every customer interaction, they represent not only themselves but their store, their manager, the brand, the company, and all other partners involved. Needless to say, the long-term consequences can be dangerous, even detrimental to the company, and heavily outweigh the short-term sales gains.
  2. Lack of consistency in the customer experience: The absence of a poorly communicated brand promise, or the absence of one, is another sign of poor discipline. When the customers’ experience is defined by the company merchandising standards and the current mood of the sales team working, it allows for the personality of the sales team to play a role in the customer experience. When this happens, the company has given complete control to their stores on how they want customers to experience their brand, without defining what is important to the company itself. I am a big advocate for the empowerment and giving stores complete control over the customer experience. It can carry a lot of positives, as long as the field team has clearly defined objectives on how to translate the brand promise on the sales floor.
  3. Lack of clearly defined standard operating procedures: When the team is not given clear guidelines on how to operate the business they generally figure it out on their own. Most do a really good job of creating systems that are effective, efficient, and logically make sense. I have seen many managers and teams come up with their own procedures, even when one is given, and most times their procedure is just as effective, if not more effective than the company standard. So, you might wonder what the problem is then? Why don’t we let every team make their own systems and processes? The challenge with the team creating their own is prioritizing. Every team will put more focus and attention on what they deem important, not what the company has identified as a standard. The lack of consistency in running the operation will inevitably translate into a lack of consistency in how customers experience each store. Furthermore, this will create confusion within team members that move stores, which will lead to compliance issues.

The beauty of the 3 issues identified above is that the field team is not responsible for any of it. The team will operate in an environment created by the leadership team. The leadership team itself is responsible for creating an environment where poor standards are not acceptable.

The leadership team is responsible for ensuring that there is strong buy-in and engagement. They are also responsible for ensuring that there is a strong brand promise and that every team member understands how they contribute to the execution of that brand promise.

Related Article: Best Practices for Effective Onboarding of New Hires

The leadership team is also responsible for creating standard operating procedures and doing it in a way where the field team will contribute to having their fingerprints on it.

In conclusion, the first step of fixing poor standards starts with an evaluation of our own discipline and standards. If our personal discipline is strong and our own standards are high, we will not accept it from our team.

About Retailors Group

The team at Retailors Group has over 15 years of retail sales and field marketing experience. Retailors Group takes the time to understand your brand and align your core values into a tailor-made solution that builds a long-lasting relationship with your consumers.

We offer services in Experiential Field Marketing, On-site Sales Assist, Retail Management, and Digital Marketing.


When is Employee Training the Right Solution for Low Sales Productivity?

When is Employee Training the Right Solution for Low Sales Productivity?

We have seen small and big retailers go through the following exercise:

When we see low sales productivity, more employee training is provided. Employees get equipped with more product knowledge and the company’s existing sales training is reinforced.

There are two things to consider when going down this road:

Is product knowledge really the issue that causes low sales productivity?

I know that product knowledge is a key component of being a good salesperson. It is obvious that if I don’t know my product I will most often fail in closing the sale and fail at providing a good customer experience. Having high product knowledge gives me and my clients confidence in the future of the business relationship.

Strong product knowledge, however, is more of a hygiene factor. It is almost certain that if I lack product knowledge I will be a below-average salesperson, however, having strong product knowledge is not predictive of strong sales. It is more of a necessity and a job requirement rather than a performance enhancer.

So, if I provide reactive product knowledge training as a fix for low sales productivity, more often than not I have not identified the root cause of the product knowledge problem. The root cause might be in the original training design, on-boarding process or even worse, have nothing to do with the Product knowledge of the sales team.

Related Article: Best Practices for Effective Onboarding of New Hires

The consequences of getting the team to go through this training exercise without identifying the root cause of the problem are:

  • Creating distrust and hurting the credibility of my company
  • Lower morale and disengagement at the training sessions
  • Lower sales productivity and loss of sales because of time spent away from selling
  • Over a long period of time it can impact the company culture and make it acceptable for employees to be reactive and have low attention to detail

Will sales training target the current gaps in performance?

If the team has already been put through sales training, then I operate under the assumption that they are familiar with the sales process. Sales is both a science and an art. Sales training is usually aimed at teaching the science component. The art component gets developed over time and it takes coaching, experience, and one-on-one attention.

If the gap is in the teams’ understanding of the sales process (the science component) then putting them through the existing sales training again should add some value. The bigger question though is why did it take two training sessions to gain understanding? And will the second session accomplish what the first one didn’t?

Training in itself only holds value if it is reinforced and applied in our day-to-day activities. If I have to put my team through the same training twice then I wonder if there are gaps in the follow-up process, the sales management, or if the training itself needs a redesign. I would probably scrutinize the above-mentioned components before committing to another employee training session.

Does the team believe the sales process makes a difference?

Another cause of low sales productivity might be the teams’ trust in the existing sales process. If the team doesn’t believe that the current sales process makes a difference or helps in any way, they resort back to their previous experience, history, or own knowledge of sales.

The challenge with this is that your customers will be treated differently in every store and the consistency of the customer experience will diminish. Aside from that, the team will no longer be committed to the same process, which will allow for a spontaneous culture change. Losing control over your sales culture can be both dangerous and costly.

Related Article: Proactive Hiring vs Settling for the Best Available Candidate

To sum it up, I do believe sales and product knowledge training are key components to a strong sales culture and are a necessity for an engaged team. A few things I can do to eliminate the possibility of making the above-mentioned mistakes are:

  • Listen to my team. Get their feedback on the current training programs and processes. They live and breathe these every day, they will provide the truest feedback.
  • Involve my sales team in the design of the training program. Not only is their feedback necessary, but they will also feel a sense of pride and ownership in the program itself. They will become the biggest ambassadors of that program.
  • Ensure that every level of management goes through the training program. For a program to work, there needs to be alignment across the whole department.
  • Follow-up on the behaviours and actions learned in training, not the results.
  • Recognize good behaviour as well as good results. Do not recognize good results without the right behaviour attached to it.

There are many other things to consider when discovering the cause of low sales productivity. In my next article, I will explore how poor discipline impacts sales.

About Retailors Group

The team at Retailors Group has over 15 years of retail sales and field marketing experience. Retailors Group takes the time to understand your brand and align your core values into a tailor-made solution that builds a long-lasting relationship with your consumers.

We offer services in Experiential Field Marketing, On-site Sales Assist, Retail Management, and Digital Marketing.


6 Benefits of Pop-Up Shops

6 Benefits of Pop-Up Shops

Temporary retail establishments have been growing in number, popping up on street corners, in shopping centers, at events, in airports, and more, as more brands begin recognizing the benefits of pop-up shops. There are a variety of pop-up stores, ranging from modular retail establishments to those housed in shipping containers; regardless of the format, there are several advantages in setting up a pop-up establishment:

Because pop-up shops are often temporary in nature and smaller in size than conventional retail stores, the cost of rent is usually lower. This is especially advantageous for new businesses that don’t yet have the funds to lease a more traditional retail space and, if necessary, have the option of closing down the temporary location to avoid more costs from a low-sales location.

Pop-up shops allow for a more selective approach to selling and marketing. Instead of being locked into a long-term rental agreement, the brand is only committed for a fixed period of time, which means the brand is more able to adapt to changes in its business and marketing plans. What’s more, a brand can open up a pop-up shop only when traffic and sales are expected to be high, and then close it down during the slower months.

One of the primary benefits of pop-up shops is that they help a brand generate buzz. Pop-up retail establishments are often fantastic marketing tools because they tend to draw attention from crowds. People are interested in the sudden existence of a store, especially if they look unique — for instance, a shipping container. As Robert Humble of HyBrid Architecture, a firm that designs shipping container projects, says, “There’s a certain built-in marketing cachet that [container stores] have that other businesses don’t.” Big brands such as Target, Levi’s, Adidas, and the Gap have used pop-up shops to generate buzz around a product or promotion.

The low-cost and temporary nature of pop-up shops allow brands to engage in test marketing new products and promotions to gauge future demand. Major companies like BMW’s MINI have opened up pop-up shops for this purpose, while smaller businesses have used pop-ups to try out a new business idea, such as Softroom’s ‘Wahaca Southbank Experiment, a pop-up Mexican restaurant in London.

A pop-up store’s temporary nature creates a sense of urgency among consumers to buy now. Unlike traditional retail establishments, the pop-up store itself is presented as a “limited-edition” item that people must take advantage of in the moment or regret their inaction later. According to the co-founder of Think PR Claudine Gumbel, “There’s a certain passion about things that shout ‘act now!’ and that has transpired into the way we shop too.”

Pop-ups allow a business to extend its brand and build awareness. For online businesses, especially, pop-up shops provide a way to interact with customers face-to-face and also educate them about new products, services, and features. This can be particularly beneficial for brands that have complicated offerings or want to capture a market segment that would not normally visit the brand’s site or buy from the company online. For example, Google launched a pop-up store in Australia last year, called Androidland, to introduce and educate customers on the Google Android mobile operating system.

There are many benefits of pop-up shops, and an increasing number of businesses today are jumping on board to try their hand at opening a temporary retail establishment. Uncover more temporary and mobile retail strategies by downloading Trend Hunter's Retail Trend Report and by accessing our PRO trends database for trends like Pop-Up Eats and Portashop.

Article was courtesy of http://www.trendreports.com written by Katherine Vong

Find out more about how Retailors Group can help with pop-up shops.