How to Make Retail Sales Training and Customer Service Training Stick

Sales managers often joke that sales training is like Teflon.  That is because it is hard to make it stick.  The inability to get the concepts and skills that you teach in your training program to create any long-term benefit  can not only result on poor financial results, but can also result can be a cut in training budgets or the abandonment of sales training efforts altogether due to a lack of ROI.  These are outcomes that no one wants.

Virtually everyone understands that training can be important to a retail sales representative’s success – both in the short term and the long term.  The key is developing strategies and tactics that keep your retail managers and their team members focused on the goals and approved activities that will help them to meet or exceed your KPIs.  Here are some ways that you can get your employees motivated and engaged in sales training so that they create long term results.

1.)    Use Training Methods That Work for Your Team Members   – Traditionally most retail sales training has been conducted in a classroom environment.  Instructor led training methods are impactful and can create a lot of energy for your team, but a blended learning approach may make more sense.  Computer-based training programs are effective at laying a foundation of knowledge prior to the instructor-led experience and also works well for reinforcing the content afterward.  You also should work in role-playing, goal setting activities, and tracking to keep the emphasis on putting learning into action.


2.)    Adapt Training to Your Sales Culture – Taking a cookie-cutter approach to sales training is a recipe for disaster.  The training has to resonate with employees and it has to be applicable to their day-to-day work.  That’s why it’s important to tailor training exercises to fit the culture of your retail organization.

3.)    Practice What You Preach – Most retail sales training programs happen either in a classroom or through computer-based training programs.  Unfortunately retail sales people may not apply the training to their daily lives on the sales floor.  Make sure that you give them time to practice their new skills with your leaders in the real environment.  Publish retail training scenarios in the weeks following the training seminar and have team members execute against them.

4.)    Have an Integrated Approach – All too often retailers view training as a stand-alone activity.  But the most successful retailers understand that training is part of a puzzle.  Start by analyzing your business’ goals and key performance indicators.  Then take a hard look at the habits of your top performers and build your training program around their proven techniques.  During the training process, have your team members develop and commit to an action plan for executing the techniques that they have learned.  Follow up over the next several weeks via email and in person to ensure they are staying on track and then use a scorecard to track their results against their commitments.

5.)    Repetition is the Key to Long Term Results – People learn through repetition; it’s that simple. But many retailers sales training programs don’t fully incorporate repetition into the learning process.  Today, retailers can implement learning management systems that can help them schedule and deliver e-learning courseware on an ongoing basis for just a few dollars per employee per year.  This helps means that retail sales reps can take remedial training and advanced or follow-up training that ensures better results on the sales floor.

Research shows that people exposed to new information will retain 50 percent after 24 hours, 25 percent after 48 hours, and just 2 percent after 16 days. So how do you make your training investment pay off?  You need constant reinforcement and repetition, including exercises and activities that will enhance the learning experience.  By scheduling ongoing training sessions that range from 15 minutes to one hour each, you’ll soon see a dramatic improvement in the ability of your salespeople to retain what they’ve learned and make your training stick!