Retail Truth #14 – Chip Averwater

Retail Truth #14: Salesmanship is 90 percent preparation, 10 percent presentation.3dcover_72dpi[1]

Good salesmanship begins before the customer arrives. Salespeople need knowledge, training, and rehearsal – before helping customers.

Unfortunately, retail seldom allows time & expense for that ideal. Too often our salespeople get their training on the sales floor, searching for information and answers beside our customers, and learning their communication skills from their mistakes.

Used with permission of the author.

Copies of Retail Truths – The Unconventional Wisdom of Retailing by Chip Averwater can be purchased at

Sales Training: A Little Goes a Long Way – by Richard Rejino

It’s true. Real life in retail does not always allow for the kind of training that owners and managers know is essential to an employee’s success. The question is, how can we ensure that employees are trained in spite of the expense and time constraints that hound us all? This much is true: retailers who don’t provide proper and on-going sales training do so at considerable risk to their companies. There is no magic answer, except that what we prioritize gets done. Staff meetings my not be “ideal” for sales training, but using even ten minutes of meeting time is, at the very least, a step in the right direction. A little can go along way. Here are just a few tips to get moving forward:

  1. Don’t bite off more than your staff can chew in the time you devote to sales training. Focus on the details of selling one or two particular products at a time.
  2. Ask your experienced employees to present a segment of sales training during staff meetings. The confidence and trust you place in them can go a long way in promoting a stronger team environment where everyone is involved in the learning process.
  3. Training your staff in what products to recommend means little without framing them in the proper context.  For example, identify questions that customers ask most often and how they can be turned into sales opportunities, i.e., what book do you recommend to learn how play the piano? (Remember, don’t stop at one book!)
  4. Let your salespeople shape the content of the meeting. Solicit ideas that sales employees want to talk about.
  5. New employees require the most intensive training at the beginning. If managers spend regular (weekly) one-on-one time with them, then the groundwork in sales basics is laid; so are the building blocks for a trusting relationship between the employee and manager.
  6. Remember you are training people. Be positive; stay positive.