Starting a new retail business can be tricky, especially when it comes to the sales training of remote employees. Having only one brick and mortar building makes things a bit easier as employees can be trained on-site.
In-service training with quick feedback is easy when you only have one location to work from, but when you have multiple stores in different locations, things start to get a bit difficult. When you need to create a talent pool and build the skills of your staff, having a clear retail sales training plan is essential.
Here are the top retail sales training guidelines to set you on the right path and build a successful workforce.
1. Weighing the benefits
When it comes to remote employees, sales training can be expensive if the online route is not followed. Boarding, lodging, travel expenses, and training materials all add up and make it an expensive exercise, whereas online training is much more affordable.
When your business stretches across time zones, there is no need to worry about time differences because online training can be done at any time of day. Location is also not a problem seeing that the only thing that is needed is a stable internet connection.
As the employer, you have much more control and oversight as to when and what your employees are busy with. Most online training software has in-depth analytics and tracking software that will enable you to monitor your employees. Upon completion of a sales training program, the employees receive certification which they can be held accountable to.
The best part of online training is that it is uniform. No one can say that a particular trainer was better than another and that certain information was not carried over. Everyone receives the same content and cannot say that they were not trained in a particular area.
2. Getting started with the training
In general, there are two options that an employer can consider. He or she can either opt for an already existing retail sales training program, or they can design their own program. The former is great in terms of development and professionalism.
These programs have been tried and tested and work well. On the other hand, they are not necessarily tailored to your retail niche. A designed program will consider that niche, but it will take some time to develop a program that is worth it.
When you create a sales training program, there are a couple of basic guidelines to follow to ensure that the program does not come across as cumbersome or intimidating. The retail sales business is also an ever-changing one. Therefore, a course should be broken up into small individual mini-courses.
That will enable the employer to make micro-adjustments to the course material and employees can refresh the areas where they lack the skill or where a change in trends is observed.
Making these courses cloud-based also enables the course designer to make changes on the fly and have real-time feedback on the material. The idea is to structure the course in such a way that it does not take up too much time and that learning is segmented, yet applicable at any time.
3. The look and feel of the material
With online learning becoming more prevalent, a ton of research has been going into user interface design and course material development.
One of the broad conclusions that the research has shown is that video material is the way to go. The videos are visually appealing and people tend to remember more from watching a video than reading a paragraph.
The quality of the video is one factor that needs to be emphasized because just as effective a good video can be, so ineffective a poor-quality video can be. Using an interesting narrative to emphasize a key point to remember is an effective technique to bring a point across.
When it comes to retail sales training videos, the idea is not to produce passive videos that the trainee just has to sit and watch but to create an interactive experience with narration, moving images, and animations. Various scenarios of the sales process can be acted out and trainees can get a feel for what they will be getting themselves into.
4. Screen capture software
When it comes to retail sales training related software, there is no better way than to use screen capturing software to demonstrate how the software is supposed to operate. Anything from point-of-sale software to managing software can be demonstrated using screen capture software.
The basic premise of these software packages is that they record the screen of the operator while a narrator explains what is happening on the screen. While they are going through the basic operation of the software, they can also add some general troubleshooting into the video to avoid the common pitfalls and identified problem areas.
The best part of these software packages is that many of them are free and can easily be integrated and uploaded into your sales training software packages. Seeing that you will not be meeting with your employees too often, it would be wise to create a section that exclusively deals with queries.
This will make the training query list much shorter as many of the common issues will have been dealt with. It also gives the employer a good idea as to the completion rate of the videos. If a query comes in that was dealt with n the videos, then it is a giveaway that all the material has not been covered by the employee.
5. Video conferencing for lesson time
Although the core content can be delivered via a prerecorded program, there is always space for a class time session. Seeing that meeting physically is not always a viable option, video conferencing is a great alternative.
Any manager or business owner will want to know how a team is doing. Video conferencing allows a manager to not only gauge where the team is at, but also look at the individual. These sessions should be relaxed and serve as a platform where the individual can raise their concerns and shortcomings.
These sales training sessions are excellent opportunities for training in new concepts, strategies, and also to brainstorm new ideas. At first, it can be somewhat intimidating, but once everyone gets into the swing of things, these sessions can provide you with great feedback and insight as to where more focus needs to be placed.
Training videos are all good and well, but human interaction is needed for spontaneous questions and addressing issues that flow into one another. Often it happens that a basic concept is missed in a video, or an assumption was made about something that was thought of as common knowledge, and it is in these sessions that these blind spots are illuminated.
Lastly, people communicate via their whole bodies. While the conference is going on, it is easy to monitor the facial expressions and body language of the sales teams and individuals. They could be contacted after a session for a one-on-one conference to see whether they are on the same page as the rest.
6. Course durations
Training your sales force remotely is not a hurried process. Where physical in-shop/store training can be dealt with within a week, online training can take a while longer to complete. Although the course material can be dealt with within a short period, the actual working out of the material in the retail setting is where the real testing begins.
As mentioned above, the training sessions should be short. Still, the practical outworking of the skills pertaining to the retail sector that are demonstrated in the video is where the effectiveness of the training is mirrored. This cannot be hurried because the experience is not something that can be bought. It has to come with time.
On the management side of things, it might take a while before you can see the effectiveness of the course as your sales numbers will either start to rise or shrink in a couple of months.
7. Physical meetings
When one delivers online or remote sales training, there will always be a supervisory aspect that is lacking. Physical contact with the trainees is important and there should always be a time allocated for these meetings.
To save costs, though, the employer could travel to the employees for a contact session instead of the other way around.
The main purpose of these meetings is not necessarily training in new concepts, but rather to build relationships. When managers and owners do the traveling, the employees often feel as though they are valued by the company and will tend to perform better because of that.
These contact sessions are great for brainstorming and team building and employees have the opportunity to share their innovative ideas with the rest of the company.
As an added bonus for the employer, the employees can scout for hidden talents in the ranks and identify individuals who are worthy of promotions. Although the physical meetings can cost quite a bit of money to set up, the value for the company far outweighs this expense.
The bottom line: Retail sales training for remote employees
With more and more companies opting to work remotely, online sales training is becoming more essential. The better an employer understands the field of online training, the better they will be able to provide material that will enrich the skills and experience of the company’s workforce.
In some aspects, it does require more effort to train remotely, but it is an effective method of training and more employees can be reached in a shorter period. The trick is to plan the material well and to stick with the trends of the time.
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