How do you keep on top of sales training?

In our latest Big Question of the month, we asked retailers, how do you keep on top of sales training and what top tips can you share?

Josh Pickering, Group Sales Manager at Sussex Beds

We have to consistently utilise our customer feedback and attack the weaker areas of the customer experience. Identify our areas for improvement and continuously level up our team members with training and coaching, whilst also letting our team member’s personalities shine through in the sales process!

Martin Eastwood, Chief Operations Officer at Mattress Online

At Mattress Online we recruit for retail with a consultative approach – we want our sales team to have a mindset of helping our customers to find the right mattress or bed for them – we’re not merely ‘selling’ to them, we’re making the buying experience comfy and we’re proud of it.

Our induction programme is extensive and covers all areas of the business – including the online, operational and customer support departments – and product training programme is ongoing both on and off site. The retail team is also a big part of testing and reviewing of new and existing products, and they regularly engage with our product reviews to get a more rounded view of actual customer product feedback.

The sales associates are all hybrid, helping our customers both online (phone, chat and email) and in-store, giving them a great understanding of what customers are looking for and how best we can help them – this opens up our in store teams to knowledge of 400+ additional SKU’s.

Matt Scott, Owner at Sopha

We view product training as being far more important than sales training. In an age that people can easily shop from our website they’ve often come into the store because the information they needed wasn’t easily found online. This means the type and depth of knowledge required by the team is different from when I first started in the industry.

We have three main methods of training. When a new employee starts we go through comprehensive training but we know that realistically a huge amount of what you’re told doesn’t stick. That’s why we have the other two parts of training, which are ongoing throughout a member of our team’s employment. We use our suppliers to help show the products to our team, this includes factory visits and time spent going through features in store.

We also use collaboration within the team for the team to grow in our knowledge together. This is through both more formal ‘toolbox talks’ and more relaxed conversation that we heavily encourage. Ultimately the success of our training is always reliant on at least some of the team being inspired by a product and then helping inspire others within the team, this also shapes our choices of which products to carry.

Vic Smith, Owner at Vic Smith Beds

Sales training is massive. One thing that we find works really well between our stores, since going back after Covid is daily video calls. Whether it be Face Time, Zoom or Teams. We alternate between these to stop staff getting complacent, and every member of the sales team takes the lead. We have “What’s Up” (the morning catch up) as we have full time sales staff and part time. We find these quick chats are a great way of catching up and it’s very close to a in person face to face chat.

The midday video lunch time catch up – what are we having for lunch, promotions, stock updates and what’s coming into stock for a fast turnaround / delivery. Then the all-important summary call, what have you sold and very importantly the self-sales autopsy. We find when the individual sales staff are pulling apart and scrutinising their own sales, it’s far more effective than having your manager tell you that you could have done better and this is where you went wrong. 

This wouldn’t work on a phone call. Sales people are very tactile and read visual cues. Most sales staff read people without even realising they are doing it picking up on body language and facial expressions. It must not be drawn out. Somebody must lead but everybody jumps in. This cuts out staff meetings and travelling to one location.

Tim Morgan, Director at Hafren Furnishers

Training entails providing our employees with up to the minute product information about the vast repertoire of furniture ranges we stock. This includes full product specifications and properties as advised by the manufacturer. This source of information is ever evolving as new improvements are constantly occurring in the marketplace.

Staff are then able to offer impartial advice to satisfy the customers needs and requirements and not linked to commission based selling in anyway. The sheer size of our stores means we can stock the widest range of furniture lines offering maximum choice to the customer, which aids the customer experience. Just as important are the high levels of after sales service Hafren Furnishers offers & prides itself on.

I should also add, majority of our staff (including sales staff) have worked for us for a considerable time, highlighting the specific industry knowledge and their loyalty to us as a company.

Wendy Martin Green – Peter Green

Sales training is important to us because we pride ourselves on having knowledgeable Sales Consultants who are able to help our customers find the best solution for their needs.

It is easy to sell what we love, so we aim to create an atmosphere where our Consultants can ‘fall in love’ with all of our ranges, by understanding how each a product is made and the ethos behind each manufacturer.To achieve this we have a robust training program. A visit to the manufacturer is always very effective, providing a ‘backstory’ that we and our customers can relate to. Additional training is regularly undertaken in our store, delivered by our suppliers and this helps to educate and demonstrate the benefits of a product.

Training sessions are most important when we have either new staff, new product or both. Training in ethical selling, the ‘Peter Green’ way, is carried out ‘in house’ by our Store Manager on a continuing basis and periodically we bring an expert in to help our sales team brush up on their sales techniques. We also have regular sessions to discuss internet and banking fraud to keep everyone on their toes, because as we all know ’scammers’ are busy now more than ever. Continual sales training enables us to stay competitive, stay informed and support our customers in making the right choices. It helps us win business and is therefore a vital part of what we do.

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