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 impacts sales, then we can discuss how to get your sales team to buy into that concept.
What is the definition of poor standards in sales people and how do we define good standards?
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 sales people 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.
So, let’s define poor standards:
- 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 sales person” 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 of 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 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 the 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.
The leadership team is also responsible for creating standard operating procedures and doing it in a way where the field team will contribute to have their fingerprints on it.
In conclusion, the first step of fixing poor standards start 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.
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.