Five Pitfalls of DIY Training in Your Retail Store

Five pitfalls of DIY training in your retail store


Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor, offers the following advice and inspiration. Find more resources from Phibbs here.


1. Dusty Training Manuals

If you look around long enough in the back room of a retail store, you will eventually run across a rack full of training material. These 3-ring binders are chock-full of outdated materials that are either too complex to be intelligible and actionable, or too simplified to be of any use. Worse yet, if you dig some more, you may find some old VHS tapes that the sales staff is expected to find the time to watch. Of course, these outdated video training tools feature actors performing under ideal conditions, so their training value is limited.


One thing that all these training materials usually have in common is a healthy layer of dust. That’s because your employees either don’t know they exist or do and have avoided using them. Either way, the standardized training materials are left on the shelf in the back of the shop and your employees end up being trained on an ad hoc basis.


2. Blind Leading the Blind

Without a train-the-trainer program to follow for your retail store, how are your employees being trained? They are learning from the employees who came before them. And those employees learned from previous employees. Each new season of employees is getting a diluted version of the original training. Even the best sales training probably has little or no resemblance to the original program you set up. It is like making a copy of a copy of a copy. With each iteration, the lines get a little more blurred, the process gets a little more faded, and the end result lacks innovation and is unrecognizable.


3. No Time

When things are busy, your floor staff will not have time to properly train a new salesperson. When things are slow, there is usually a cutback in staff and no one to teach the new salesperson. Your staff is left with a difficult decision—they can try to administer training during busy periods, jeopardizing their own performance, or they can leave the newbie employee to sink or swim on their own, jeopardizing your business. Either way, the trainee is unlikely to properly learn much-needed skills, and the trainer is likely to end up frustrated. For a brick-and-mortar retail business that lives or dies on the performance of its salespeople, neither is a good outcome.


4. Overpaid Training

If your floor staff does not have the time to administer training, that leaves it up to your managers. This puts the highest-paid members of your staff out on the floor, teaching someone how to greet a customer or ring up purchases. You promoted your managers because they could handle the most important responsibilities in your retail store—now you have them performing basic training. That’s not a good use of their time, or your money. Online retail sales training means all the manager has to do is schedule the employee off the floor for 10-15 minutes a week. It also lets trainees learn the basics of establishing customer rapport quickly and efficiently, without pulling your managers away from greater responsibilities.


5. Luck-of-the-draw Training

This happens far too often in a retail sales environment. Your new employee gets paired with whoever happens to be working when they start their first shift. This is often random and done without considering the overall abilities or attitude of the person doing the training.


What if you have just paired the trainee with someone who never got to complete their own training? Or, worse yet, what if you have paired them with a disgruntled employee who spends the work day on a mobile device? You could unknowingly be creating two poorly trained salespeople with attitude problems. And, as luck would have it, they may go on to train other people themselves!


How to avoid these pitfalls?

Retailers are making these mistakes, and suffering the consequences, every day. To avoid these pitfalls, and the problems they can cause, you need online retail sales training for your sales staff.

Why? Because your sales crew gets the same training every time.


In Summary

If you recognized yourself in these five pitfalls, know you are not alone.

Most retailers struggle with training and either embrace it or give up and settle for the results.

It's now so much easier as millennial employees are used to online training and videos have come a long way since the pixelated talking heads from just a few years ago.


Find more resources and training opportunities from The Retail Doctor.

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