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8 Tips for Impactful Retail Training and Development

 
7/13/21

Retail sales associates training and development
Did you know that almost a third of all retail associates receive zero training? According to a survey from Axonify, as many as 27% of those that do find it ineffective.

Frontline retail sales associates are the faces of a company and usually the first point of contact. Not only do they act as brand ambassadors, but they provide a lasting make-or-break experience for customers. Contrary to popular belief, traditional retail still reigns supreme. Those valuable one-on-one interactions directly impact sales, so it pays to develop the retail skills of your associates.

But how can you make your training and development more effective? Learning strategies only work if they make a lasting impact on your employees. Here are eight tips you can use to improve your training endeavors.

1. Set Measurable Objectives

You can't expect your associates to start training when they don't know the end goal. Arbitrary intentions like "more sales" usually don't cut it. Instead, try setting small-scale objectives like completing individual lessons or passing quizzes.

Setting manageable goals drives progress.

Goals make training more manageable. Not only does it create a roadmap your employees can follow, but it's motivating and more engaging.

Define small objectives tied to an overarching goal. Avoid unreachable stretch goals and focus on the Jim Collins-coined Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). The BHAG is an aspiration your associates can strive for and reach by completing the training.

2. Play to Personalities

Each employee in your store is unique and learns by distinct needs. Everything from motivations to life experience will govern how a participant responds to training.

While a one-size-fits-all approach might appeal to a broader audience, it's not going to reach everyone. The best way to maximize the success of a training program is to offer tailored options that meet the needs of every individual.

Take some time to learn about your employees and see what works best. It’s important to identify preferred training techniques, strengths, weaknesses, and everything in between.

3. Address the "WIIFM" Question

WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) is the age-old question that drives an individual's motivations.

Humans are self-serving; there's no getting around that. If you want to encourage your associates to participate in training and learning on their own time, they—and you—want to know what they'll get out of it.

Everyone's motivations are different, so it's essential to put yourself in your associates' shoes. Will training affect their bottom dollar? Can it help them close more sales? Can it potentially help advance their career? Will they be rewarded in some way for their efforts?

Make the WIIFM clear from the get-go to provide motivation early on. 

4. Incentivize the Training Process

This tip piggybacks on the previous one a bit. Motivation is a huge factor in training participation and engagement. Associates want to work towards something and have their achievements recognized.

If possible, provide some incentives to keep trainees engaged in the process. The sky's the limit when it comes to potential incentives. You can offer gift cards, tangible prizes, or work perks. Many companies adopt points or currency systems to trade for rewards. Sometimes, something as simple as a brag-worthy status level or fun gamification elements will do.

The Intel® Retail Edge Program has used incentives to motivate and engage sales associates successfully for almost 20 years!

5. Provide Plenty of Variety

As mentioned earlier, people pick up new skills in many ways. There are three primary learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. While we all might have our preferences, most absorb concepts using a combination of the three.

Use that fact to your advantage and incorporate as much variety as possible. Don't overuse the ones that seem to have the best results. Otherwise, those tactics will lose their effect. It's easier for associates to internalize lessons when multiple training methods are used to illustrate them.

6. Keep Things Short and Sweet

If you had to guess, how long do you think the average person stays "cued-in" during training? For most people, it's only 11 minutes! After that, trainees often check out mentally and don't retain information.

Long-form lessons aren't just ineffective, but they can be demotivating, too. Your associates aren't going to want to sit for hours at a time for training.

For the best results, stick to short-form modular or microlearning-based training. Microlearning training is usually 5-7 minutes in length. These short and impactful trainings make it easier for your associates to jump in when they have free time. Best of all, they're more likely to absorb the information.

7. Foster a Community Environment

A study by the University of Minnesota found that students learn better when interacting with others.

That doesn't mean you have to adopt group-based learning strategies. You can foster the same sense of camaraderie by nurturing a community environment. Allow your employees to have discussions, share feedback, and talk about the material.

You can do this through online forums, message boards, and more. The sense of community can continue to motivate throughout the training program. 

8. Assess and Evaluate Regularly

Assessments can help you gauge progress and see where employees need to improve. Consider implementing assessment exams or quizzes before and after training. That way, you can measure the effectiveness of the training program or campaign and identify weak areas in the process.

Feedback loops are beneficial as well. A defined feedback loop promotes continued training and improvement over the long run.

Set Your Associates Up for Success

Even with sought-after products, your retail associates can make or break sales figures. Proper training ensures that every associate is ready to be the product expert customers expect them to be. Use these tips to make your training and development efforts stick!

The Intel® Retail Edge Program is an empowering educational platform and community that gives retail associates the tools they need to create success on the salesfloor as they guide customers to the best PC for their needs.

We incorporate the methods discussed here to increase the knowledge about Intel® products and technologies while presenting applicable sales techniques to enhance the customer experience.

Check out the Intel® Retail Edge Program today to see how it can benefit your retail associates and improve sales.

 

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Intel Retail Edge

Written by Intel Retail Edge

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