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Leaders need to ‘own’ all obstacles
Leaders need to ‘own’ all obstacles

There are two types of retail leaders - which one are you?

You don’t change staff behaviours and actions by talking about it; you change it by driving development daily. DOUG FLEENER outlines how to become a better sales-growth leader and coach.

In working with retailers and other customer-focused companies, I meet two types of leaders.

The first type of leader runs his or her own business and most of them generally do a great job because they work very hard at everything they do. They’re constantly looking to improve their merchandising and marketing, they work with their staff to keep them current on new products and they put time into their own professional development.

The other type of leader may appear similar to the first type but they’re actually very different. This type is driven to aggressively increase sales.

They’re constantly looking for ways to improve the performance in their staff, their product mix, their merchandising and their marketing in order to substantially grow their sales.

Many owners and managers fall somewhere between these two types, usually as strong leaders who want to increase their jewellery sales, but are not always sure how to obtain dramatic results. Here are a few tips and questions to consider for becoming a sales-growth leader and coach.

Own your obstacles and results

Your role is to create results in spite of any challenges – in spite of the economy, staffing issues, government policy, the decisions of key vendors, upper management, the weather or any other obstacles and challenges that pop up.

"Ultimately, the biggest difference between the leader that runs his or her store and the one who is aggressively growing sales is mindset"

No matter what happens, you still need to find a way to get it done and the only way to do that is to own the obstacle. If you don’t, you don’t have the power to change it. You’ll become a victim of circumstance and that will always hold you back from being able to aggressively grow your sales.

The alternative is to take action, a different action, and take it more regularly. Sales-growth leaders take action while others make excuses. The difference is not only whether or not you can rise to the challenge, but how you do it. How often do you and your staff brainstorm ideas to overcome obstacles? If you and your team fall short, are you able to list what you tried even though it didn’t work out?

Narrow your staff’s focus

As a leader, you have to keep a lot of balls in the air, that’s part of what it takes to be successful; however, this is not the case for your frontline team. Sales growth comes from narrowing the focus of the sales team. Drive improved performance in a key area and then move on to another area.

If staff don’t keep a narrow focus, your team never truly develops and any improved results are short-lived. What is your staff focused on right now to grow their sales? If you asked each person individually what his or her focus is, would they all give the same answer?

Substantial incremental growth

I know, you don’t often see the words ‘substantial’ and ‘incremental’ together but sales-growth leaders find it and drive it. Too often, people think they need more traffic to aggressively grow sales but the easiest, fastest and most profitable growth is with the customers you already have.

What you need is to better maximise the opportunities in front of you. We’ve been able to increase a store’s sales by 10 per cent or more in a very short space of time just by discovering that opportunity.

To find it, ask yourself what two or three things staff can do even better to increase the average sale and conversion. If you’re not sure, spend time this week observing your staff and looking for those opportunities.

No matter how strong your store, there’s still substantial incremental growth to be found.

Daily development

I’m almost evangelistic about changing behaviours and actions first in order to change results. As simplistic as that sounds, many leaders attempt to create growth without changing the behaviours and actions of frontline staff.

You don’t change staff behaviours and actions by talking about it, you change it by driving development daily. What did your employees focus on yesterday to accelerate sales growth? Does each employee know what his/her next level of performance is?

Ultimately, the biggest difference between the leader that runs his or her store and the one who is aggressively growing sales is mindset, action and the pursuit of one’s own personal development.

So let me ask, where do you sit among these leaders? What is your opportunity to become a better sales-growth leader and coach?

Doug Fleener

Contributor • Sixth Star Consulting

Doug Fleener is president and managing partner of Sixth Star Consulting. Learn more:


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