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Developing a Resourceful Sales Team

How and Why to have a Great Sales Team

Let's compare two businesses. One has five people on the sales floor while the other has twenty. As we walk into the first one, we are greeted by a person who asks if they can help us. And just as the salesperson has used the traditional, "Can I help you?", we are likely to respond with the usual, "Just looking".

Just to confirm our research, we revisit the same store several times and have the same experience. Now we drive down the street to try the second store. As we enter the store, we find several of the sales people busy working about the business - performing the usual stocking shelves, cleaning glass show cases, and any of a number of traditional retail chores.

We wander through the business and experience several of their employees who look up from their work, give a smile and a pleasant hello. A couple of them engage us in a conversation; perhaps about what instrument we play, or maybe just about the weather. Whatever the topic, we find ourselves speaking at length with the store staff. The first business, while at least speaking with us, fits into a not so unique category; that of a traditional retail business. Unfortunately, as there are so many choices for people as they select a retailer to shop with, the first business is unlikely to stand out in the mind of the customer.

You probably know this. You probably already know that you need to be continually educating your staff. But how do you do it?

Begin by making a commitment to have an educational program. Our suggested format is a bi-weekly meeting of one hour in length held after hours. You will need to pay your staff their hourly wage for attending of which we suggest attendance is mandatory. We will add a couple of incentives that we will explain later.

In your staff meetings, be sure to include these areas of concern: product knowledge, sales techniques, and reviews of your store policies and procedures. In a one hour format, you won't be able to cover each of them in every meeting. Just be sure each of them gets some of your and your staff's attention. It is the area of sales techniques where most retailers are struggling to cover the topic. How do you educate a staff person to better serve the customer? Here is one of the best methods we have seen.

Using poster board, make a list of all of the positive expressions you would want your staff people to use in working with your customers. On a second poster, develop a list of all of the things you would hope your staff people would not say, this being your negative list. (If you are looking for some ideas for both lists, visit this writer's web site at Now as you meet for your staff meeting, hang these two posters on the wall.

Assign one person to be the score keeper and provide them with a stop watch and a noise maker, (A bell or other distracting sound). With one person as the salesperson and another as the customer, have your customer staff member work the salesperson as hard as possible. The goal of the customer is to get the salesperson to slip up and use one of the sayings from your negative list. When that happens, the scorekeeper uses the noisemaker and makes a note of how long the salesperson lasted without using something from the negative list. A score card hanging along side the posters to enter individual times keeps most people's attention. The score keeper also notes how many of the positive comments the salesperson used.

The game continues for as long as you have time available allowing each person as many times as possible to enhance their sales techniques. When the allotted time is gone, determine which sales person had the longest overall time indicating who has done the best job of handling your customers in a positive manner during your practice.

One of the most effective rewards we have seen for such a contest is an extra long lunch period with the meal being paid for by the business. You could also give rewards for the person who has managed to add the most positive statements to their practice sales techniques.

At the beginning we mentioned that we would have more on incentives. One of the best this writer has seen is the business that gives to their employees a written ten question test covering whatever the topic of the evening sales meeting. Of the ten questions, this business owner makes a point to discuss nine of the ten questions during their meeting. The extra question, while related to the topic is intentionally not covered in the class with all of the staff knowing that the test does contain one such question.

The idea for the extra question is so that each of the staff members will make a point to speak with the owner/manager to obtain the answer or verify what they think is the correct answer.

The incentive for each of the staff members to do this is another bonus. For each staff member answering at least nine of the ten questions correctly, they receive the bonus. Sometimes the bonus is getting off of work an hour earlier, or maybe coming to work an hour later one morning, with the hour being paid for by the business.

The business utilizing this technique reports they have seen a marked improvement in the attitude of the staff, their sales abilities, add on sales, and the number of sales closed.

Many times when retailers see another business with an excellent sales staff, they remark how "lucky" the business owner/manager must be. When you use creative techniques such as these, you too, can be "lucky".

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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