Sales Clerks Don’t Have a Clue about Their Products

A well-trained clerk can boost your sales
Well, it’s the holidays again and it’s time for my least favorite thing to do — shopping!

That’s right, boys and girls, a round of chemotherapy might be a touch more enjoyable. Let’s just get into the car, circle the mall parking lot for an hour, fight the other crazy people for the parking space that is in another ZIP code from the entrance to the mall. But wait, the best is not even mentioned yet. Now we have to weave through all the crowds to maybe, actually get inside the store where of course I have no idea what I want, and then comes the magic moment of having a clerk or salesperson know even less than me.

That’s correct, the people who work in the stores today don’t have a clue what’s going on! Don’t believe me?

See if this argument holds true after your shopping experience. Now let’s look at the customer’s frustration for a few moments and then we can look at what to do from the employer’s point of view. We go to the local department store, or better yet, one of those large electronic retailers and we want, let’s just say, a computer or DVD player (they are both hot products this year).

We now have to get a special degree in electronics or computer science just so we know that the salesperson is not just making things up and they really do know the products. It is one thing just to read back the feature card that describes the equipment next to the unit being displayed. It is another when a salesperson can actually ask me thought-provoking questions that will make me want to buy from them.

For example, if I wanted to buy a computer, a great salesperson is not going to read me info on bits and bytes, but might ask, “Do you have any kids? If you do, are they on PC or Mac at school?” If the answer is Mac, maybe I should think along those lines. If they act like a doctor and ask me questions rather than point and then run away, I would want to shop at the store again and actually ask for that person by name in the future.

If you want to buy something as simple as a DVD, which one are you going to buy, how much will you spend, etc.? It can get pretty confusing and this could be a simple decision if the person was trained for an hour or so on the basics, and then really helped us rather than just let us buy on price.

For whatever its worth, when a consumer is not educated he or she will assume that all things might be somewhat equal and then price is the issue because they do not understand the differences. A well-trained salesperson or one with, what the heck, any training at all, could help raise the average sale per square foot in the store if the customers leaves better informed and actually bought what they wanted or needed.

It is so easy to be good at what you do if you take pride in yourself and want to do a better job than just average!

Now, for what the employer should do:

Forget whether the employee is full-time or part-time. The question to ask: Is this the person you want to represent your business? Remember people never say, do not ask for Bob, they just say don’t go there (the place of business) if they’ve had a bad experience!

The customer does know or care whether the person taking care of them is full- or part-time. They just want to be made to feel special and to enjoy the shopping experience.

Train all the people all the time. The more training, the more sales and the more profitable you are. Do not just train people on how to use the cash register. Train them as they were going to stay with you forever.

We all know how difficult it is to find and hire good people. They are not as plentiful as they were before. A part-time person can replace a full-time person if they are more reliable or have a better attitude. Attitude is everything!

© Hal Becker  All Rights Reserved.


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