Posted By Matthew Hudson on May 1, 2012
No matter how terrific your sales process is, the ability to execute on that process is the key to your success. And your ability to teach and coach your sales professionals is paramount. You cannot rely on "training" to get the job done. Too many managers operate off of the principle that "they went through the training, so they know what to do."
Right away, there is a big problem with this. First, studies show that we forget about 1/2 of what we have been told in training within the first hour? And after a week, that drops to about 25% of what was in the training class. For most of you, you probably have no problem accepting those stats as true from your own personal experiences. But the fact of the matter is that without your follow-up as a sales coach, your chances of success are also dropping by these %'s each week.
Its not that your sales processionals are lazy or don't care - its that they are adults. And the statistics in the last paragraph apply to all adults. But you can make a difference in your sales professionals' success by making a difference in their behaviors.
One of the biggest mistakes we see Managers make is this - when they are on the sales floor, they do not follow the sales process they train their people on! (Actually, the number one issue is probably that the managers don't even get on the sales floor or take an up anymore, but that is for another post.) The manager cuts corners, makes it up as he goes along and the sales professionals are watching every moment of this. And they are cataloguing it in their mind for the time when you comment on their sales performance.
Modeling the way is one of the key forms of leadership touted by all the great leadership gurus from Robert Greenleaf, to Jim Collins to Warren Bennis to Mary Kay to Jack Welch. All of these leaders have stated that their ability to "model" the right behavior for their employees was key to their leadership style.
"Ah, but I closed the sale," you say. So? If you believe this, you are basically saying that the only thing that matters is closing the sale. This is a very slippery slope that leads to many, many bad outcomes - not the least of which is for this type of "win at all costs" behavior to be woven into the fabric of your store or company's culture.
You set the tone. You model the way. Your employees are watching your every move. If you want them to follow your lead or do what you say, then you have to realize that Everything Speaks. And nothing speaks louder than your behaviors on the sales floor - especially in retail.
This means that your must follow the sales process at all times. It means that you must spend more time on the sales floor than you do currently. Yes you. We know its tough, especially for the small business owners. But we have been there. We have run our own stores and have had to fight the balance between managing the business and managing the people. But the bottom line is that sales professionals are not born - they are "modeled." Which means that they are developed through having a structured sales process, taught through professional training, and coached by a "present" owner or manager on a weekly (daily) basis.
What gets rewarded gets repeated. When you are on the sales floor, you can reward their good behaviors. When you are not on the sales floor? Well, you are also rewarding them. As Ferdinand Fournies always said, "your non-action means as much as your action." Translation - if you let them do it however they want by not being present on a regular basis, then you are rewarding their behavior (albeit not intentionally.)
Modeling the way is one part of an overall strategy for coaching your sales professionals to their highest potential. But is the one way that can do the most good or the most harm to your team depending on what you are modeling. Makes you think twice about "closing the sale" any way you can. We all know that any process, any technique will work at least once - but what you need is a process and a technique that will work over and over and over. A retail sales process like the G.R.E.A.T. system of the Retail Sales Bible. Check it out.