Retail Sales Training

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Case Study On The Need For Retail Sales Training

Is there a major need for increased and improved retail sales training? I’ll tell you about my recent experience and you can make up your own mind about the need for retail sales training.

I recently purchased a 60-inch LED/LCD TV and I truly enjoy it. However, the purchasing process was a trip to hell and that’s what got me focused on the need for retail sales training.

I don’t like to mention names so let’s just say I purchased the TV from a major consumer electronics retailer that would be listed at the top of the alphabetic Yellow Pages directory. I’m being kind because my complaint is under investigation by the store. I’ll follow up this article with information about how my complaint was resolved by the retailer. I may just decide to mention their name if they fail to resolve the complaint to my satisfaction. Consider it a “consumer alert” for my readers and visitors about the need for retail sales training.

Here is my story and why I’m adamant about better retail sales training.


Why Retail Sales Training Is Needed

I was looking at big screen TVs when I was approached by a salesperson (so far, so good). I saw a TV I liked and noticed there was a discounted one with a sign that read “Open Box”. I asked the rep about the discounted TV and he told me it was a floor model. I wasn’t interested in a floor model and I left the store to think about my upcoming purchase.

The rep told me that all their Big Screen TV come with free calibration. At the time, I didn’t even know what calibration was but the price was right.

I found out that calibration is important. Its how the video gets fine-tuned with color and brightness etc… I decided that if I was going to buy a TV, I should buy it from a place with free calibration.

I returned home and I went to the store’s Web site, which was well organized. Their Web site drilled down to the specific La Jolla store I visited and they listed their “Open Box” items. There was the TV I wanted to purchase but the site explained “Open Box” as a “return” and not a “floor model”. I’m fine with a returned TV but not a floor model TV that’s been on for many months. So, which one was it… floor model or returned TV?

I called the store and asked if it was a return or a floor model. I was told it was a floor model. I said the Web page listed it as a returned item. I was put on hold for a long time and when the person returned, I was now told it was a returned item and not a floor model as I was twice told.

I took a leap a faith and purchased the TV over the phone believing it as a returned item. I was told the only things missing would be a box and owner’s manual. (I was not told the free calibration would be missing). I was fine with it but because I purchased it over the phone, one more thing was missing… a receipt. Also, how can I be completely confident that I’m receiving a returned item and not a floor model? All I can do is hope and if hope is all I have, this store needs retail sales training in a major way!

The sales rep said I saved about $300 on what I hope is an Open Box Returned TV. Is that what I saved if the calibration is no longer free? I’m sure you see my point. Am I dealing with smoke and mirrors? Am I being told one thing and getting another?


Retail Sales Training Is Not Systems Training

I went to the store the next day and told the sales rep I had purchased a TV yesterday and now I need a TV stand and some speakers. The rep followed me around and answered my questions but truly knew nothing about salesmanship. I told the rep I wanted the newly purchased items delivered with the TV, which was scheduled to be delivered in three days. Besides retail sales training, I quickly discovered that this retail chain also needed training on their own systems.

Apparently, coordinating the deliveries was a big deal. The rep was having a hard time with their systems. As he pounded away on the terminal he made small talk with me and, of all things, mentioned my free calibration. Twice, reps told me about this great fee calibration I would be receiving as an entitlement for my purchase.

The rep finally gave up trying to coordinate the deliveries. He told me to go home and expect a phone call in few hours to tell me everything had been ordered and would be delivered at the same time. I got my call a few hours latter but should it be this difficult to give people your money? Was it poor training or poor systems?

I also asked about my calibration and was told I needed to call another number to arrange for a calibration appointment.

The next day I called the store to make an appointment for my free calibration. The person that answered the phone transferred me to a person that told me to call another number. I asked that person to transfer me to someone that could help and I got transferred back to the first person that answered the phone. That person transferred me again… this time to the TV department. Talk about the need for retail sales training!


What You Get Out Of Retail Sales Training

A rep in the TV department looked up my order but he wasn’t sure how to arrange for my calibration. The rep said he would call me back in few hours but never did. Can we agree that rep needs some retail sales training?

On the delivery day, everything arrived as scheduled. My good friend installs TVs in corporate boardrooms and I was fortunate to have him install my TV. He also got me back to the store for my fourth time… this time to buy a Play Station III, a few games, a router and an Ethernet kit. So far, I spent over $3K at this store. If they ever had retail sales training, they would have been able to add another $1K to my total.

While I was at the store for the fourth time, I decided to arrange for my free calibration. A sales rep looked up my order and told me I was not entitled to a free calibration because I purchased an “Open Box” item. I asked for a manager.

With a bit of an attitude, the manager confirmed what the rep just told me. I explained that at least two other reps told me I’d get a free calibration. The manager said it wasn’t on the receipt. I said I was told it was included, just as an electrical plug is included with the TV but the plug is not on the receipt. I also explained it was purchased over the phone and this was the first time I saw the receipt.

I wasn’t going to debate this manager. I felt she cared nothing about the $3K I just spent. I felt she knew nothing about what I was told and what I been through trying to purchase a TV from them. Her attitude told me there was a need for retail sales training so I decided not to debate her.

The next day, I sent a complaint to their corporate office. I’ll let you know how they responded.

To be fair, it’s a new store with new employees. However, that’s not an excuse for not giving me the free calibration I was told would come with my TV. A manager that had some retail sales training would have fixed my problem on the spot.

This manager wanted me to give her the names of all the reps I spoke with. I visited the store four times in four days. I called at least three times. I don’t remember their names and the store is staffed with part time student employees. Every time I’ve been to that store, all I see is new faces. The only thing their employees had in common was a need for retail sales training.

I know of an experienced fellow with many years of sales experience that applied for full time work in that store but never got an interview. I think that store needs some of the consistency that can only be achieved with more full time employees.

While that rep was fumbling around the terminal trying to coordinate my delivery, I spoke with a rep being trained. The rep told me they get a lot of product training, plenty of procedural training and no retail sales training.

The reps knew their products but I have to give them a failing grade on their knowledge of store procedures. Also, the absence of retail sales training was obvious to me and should be apparent on their bottom line.  A small investment in some powerful sales training would generate a nice ROI for this major retail chain.

If I ran that store, I give every rep some sales process training. Only then would they be in a position to get the most out of every encounter with a store visitor. The key is the right sales training programs.

Never discount the importance of retail sales training.

Nick Moreno




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