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Set clear sales targets and ensure all staff work towards them.
Set clear sales targets and ensure all staff work towards them.

What is a store without sales?

A strong sales culture should be the first priority of retail business owners, yet many are lacking this focus – or a plan for improvement, writes Josh Strutt.

The secret to a focused, motivated and goal-orientated retail team is not found on the sales floor – in fact, it starts in the back room.

When assessing a retail store’s performance, there is a tell-tale sign within this room that reveals the true focus of the business: clear, obvious sales targets and sales performance indicators, as well as customer service scores, are nowhere to be seen.

Retail is a competitive business – yet highlighting the performance of sales staff seems to be an area of question to some retailers and some do not even set sales goals.

However, without a goal and clear objectives, staff are not motivated to achieve. It's like a sports team; without the primary objective to win the game, what is the point in playing in the first place?

‘Fit’ businesses put sales at the centre of their operations; if senior managers are not discussing sales in general and with individual staff, it is unrealistic to think staff will make sales their number-one priority.

Creating a sales culture

Below are a few key questions to determine if a store has a ‘fit’ sales culture and identify areas that could be improved.

As a business owner, do you:

  • Have weekly and daily sales targets displayed in the back room for all staff?
  • Employ managers who are passionate about increasing sales?
  • Benchmark key performance indicators such as items per sale, average spend and conversion – and measure them?
  • Hold daily start-up meetings to motivate staff, introduce new products and promotions and allocate targets?
  • Measure sales performance by product category to product against stock holding?
  • Have an incentive program that rewards sales achievements?
  • Have a sales education program that is tailored to your business type?
  • Have individual coaching sessions with staff based on their performance?
  • See team member’s individual sales increasing with their experience and training?
Hire to win
”‘Fit’ businesses put sales at the centre of their operations; if senior managers are not discussing sales in general and with individual staff, it is unrealistic to think staff will make sales their number-one priority.”

Another way to determine if you have a strong sales culture is by asking managers and staff to anonymously nominate their top three goals for the business.

If they do not nominate increasing sales as their number-one goal, it may be time to introduce further training, conferences, or new recruitment practices.

As the old adage goes, ‘Recruit the will, teach the skill.’ Enthusiasm can be fostered and encouraged, but if your new staff member isn’t motivated from their first day, will they be motivated in a year?

Clear, standardised recruitment guidelines help to create a team that is focused on a common goal.

It's also a good idea to examine your business’ turnover rate and the reasons staff left and when. There is almost always a common trend, and it may come down to inconsistent recruitment – that is, hiring the wrong people.

Additionally, more than 70 per cent of exit surveys conducted by Retail Doctor Group (RDG) showed that staff who initiated leaving did so because they did not feel engaged with the business.

Engaged employees feel a sense of purpose, contribution and growth in a business. RDG research tells us that engaged, motivated staff deliver an average 20 per cent higher sales and margin improvement.

They are also more loyal, have lower turnover and are more productive.

Education and engagement

Are your sales staff fully confident in the product range, and the features and benefits of the products they are selling?

If the answer is not a resounding yes, more training – such as practicing sales scenarios at a weekly team meeting and educating staff on cross- or upselling strategies – is essential.

Once you introduce new staff, ensure they have a clear mentor or senior staff member to guide them, rather than a direct manager or boss. This ‘go-to person’ should induct the new staff member into the business’ sales focus.

Match your new employee with someone with whom they are comfortable asking questions and expressing their concerns, and who is able to communicate effectively.

Putting these practices in place not only fosters a strong sales culture, but also creates a positive atmosphere of improvement and connection.

Without both, it is very difficult – if not impossible–for a business to increase sales and maintain those improvements.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Strutt

Contributor • Retail Doctor Group

Josh Strutt is Retail Doctor Group’s strategy analyst. His background is in maximising operational efficiency to drive growth. Visit: retaildoctor.com.au

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