From disengaged to empowered: Improving frontline sales performance with training and support
Executive Summary: Frontline sales employees face several challenges, such as inadequate training, high employee turnover rates, low wages, inadequate tools and support, and poor working conditions, which can prevent them from performing at their best. Neglecting frontline sales can lead to a loss of potential revenue, reduced customer loyalty, and ultimately lower profits. Continuous training is crucial to upskill employees and improve their performance. The article talks about how to address these issues to ensure higher revenue per employee.
Picture this: you walk into a retail store, ready to make a purchase. An employee greets you, but instead of feeling welcome, you feel ignored. The employee seems disinterested, disengaged, and underprepared to assist you. Frustrated, you leave the store empty-handed, vowing never to return.
This scenario is all too common in today’s retail landscape, and it’s a symptom of a larger business problem: poor performance of frontline sales employees. Despite being the face of the company, these employees often face a range of challenges that prevent them from performing at their best. From low wages and limited training to lack of adequate tools and support, the list of issues facing frontline sales employees is long and complex.
In this article, we’ll explore these challenges faced by frontline sales employees in retail stores, and their impact on the larger business. We’ll delve into the root cause of poor performance, examine the cost of neglecting frontline sales, and discuss potential solutions to improve employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity. Whether you’re a retail store manager, business owner, or consumer, the insights and recommendations in this article will help understand the critical role of frontline sales in driving business success and improving customer satisfaction.
People forget nearly 90% of what they have learnt within just 7 days, unless the concepts are reinforced. That’s why employees swamped with documents, presentations, and classroom sessions are not likely to learn much.
However, time constraints make it difficult to reinforce vast concepts.
What can you do instead? Arm your employees with one concept at a time. Studies show the human attention span is only 8.25 seconds, so keep your training concise.
RapL is your software for that.
Challenges faced by frontline sales employees
Frontline sales employees in retail stores face a multitude of challenges in their day-to-day work. Below are some of the most common challenges frontline sales employees face:
- Lack of proper training: Frontline sales employees must be knowledgeable about a wide range of products and services, handle customer queries, and ultimately, close sales. Without regular training and support, they may not have the necessary knowledge or skills to answer customer questions and close sales.
- High turnover rates: The retail sector is notorious for high turnover rates, which can impact the morale and motivation of frontline sales employees. Constantly having to train new employees can be an expensive and time-consuming process for the business.
- Low wages: Many frontline sales employees in the retail sector are paid minimum wages or slightly above, which can impact their job satisfaction and motivation.
- Inadequate tools and support: Frontline sales employees often lack the tools and support to sell effectively to customers. This includes technology, product knowledge database, and up-to-date sales training materials.
- Poor working conditions: Frontline sales employees may work long hours with limited break times and in uncomfortable environments, which can impact their productivity and contentment.
While there are many such problems, some prominent ones hinder them from closing sales and providing a great customer experience. These are the following
- Limited product knowledge: Frontline sales employees are expected to know about a wide range of products and services, which can be overwhelming without regular training and support.
- Inadequate tools and resources: Without access to the right tools and resources, such as inventory systems or product information database, sales employees may struggle to provide accurate and timely information to customers.
- Lack of support and recognition: Sales employees feeling undervalued and unsupported are more likely to have low morale and underperform, leading to lower sales and poor customer satisfaction.
- Inconsistent training: Without continuous or sufficient training, sales employees may not have the necessary skills to close sales or provide a pleasant customer experience. This can lead to lost sales and negatively impact the business.
RapL: Purpose built to solve people productivity problems in retail
RapL is a training and enablement platform that ensures employees are continuously learning and upskilling themselves, with courses designed to take no more than 5 to 10 minutes of an employee’s time. The courses are broken down short pieces of content with scenario-based questions to help employees understand and apply the information in their jobs. RapL uses the spaced repetition model to help retain the information learned. By presenting information in small, bite-sized chunks, and repeating it over time, employees are more likely to remember and apply what they’ve learned.
Customer service microlearning module
Switching back to the retail scene – Intrigued by RapL’s ability to provide continuous learning and upskilling opportunities to employees, you decide to pilot the platform in a few of your stores. In the course of a few weeks, there is a noticeable difference in employee engagement and performance.
Your sales employees are more confident of the product knowledge and are better equipped to handle customer queries and objections. They’re also more motivated and engaged in their work, thanks to the bite-sized learning modules that fit seamlessly into their busy schedules. As a result, the stores that did a pilot of the platform started seeing higher conversion rates and fewer customer complaints.
Encouraged by these results, you decide to roll out RapL across all your stores. Additionally, you start investing in other development programs for employee wellbeing, as it is critical for your business’s success. Eventually, you start seeing a steady increase in revenue and profits, and your customers are more satisfied with their shopping experiences. Investing in frontline sales employees is the key to unlocking your company’s full potential. Typically, this is the case of every one of our retail customers. Let us look at the success story of one of our retail customers.
Casio adopts lean learning to stay ahead of the curve
Casio, a Japanese multinational electronics company with over $2 billion in revenue, has 2000+ outlets across India. They engage over 1000 employees, including their sales and service teams. Their product categories include watches, electronic calculators, label printers, laser-LED based green projectors, and Electronic Musical Instruments (EMI).
To stay ahead of the curve and expand their footprint in emerging markets, Casio needed to adopt a lean learning approach with a focus on the local market. Prior to RapL, Casio’s in-house training team dealt with the end-to-end process of training for all employees, from the central team to the store associates. However, this approach was tedious and ineffective, as people would forget what they learned within a few days.
Casio integrated the lean learning methodology, which emphasizes learning by doing, into its training programs to create a culture of continuous learning. This involved breaking down complex concepts into bite-sized pieces that can be quickly applied to real-world situations. Employees received immediate feedback on their performance and could refine their understanding based on their experience. This cycle of learning and application ensured that employees learned the right thing and retained what they learned.
RapL’s scenario-based microlearning modules do just that.
Casio has integrated this approach into its training programs to create a culture of continuous learning. Keeping the frontline workforce up to date on their innovative products was truly a challenge.
1000+ employees were encouraged to spend 5-10 minutes daily answering quizzes. The quizzes were released to the learners based on their knowledge levels. The primary reason for this methodology of learning delivery was to ensure that employees retained what they learned. In general, all information gained is often forgotten with time. This is referred to as the forgetting curve. By feeding the information in a spaced manner, learners tend to retain the information for longer time spans.
Spaced repetition model
To supplement job-training, the scenario-based questions made it easier for employees to relate and implement the knowledge in their real life jobs.
There were 250+ topics deployed. Some training topics were
- Understanding customer types and behaviors
- Thriving at work
- Market hygiene
- Refresher quiz
- Market discount
- G-Shock series product features
- Consumer electronics product knowledge
Employees were able to incrementally master topics within 15, 20, 45 and 60 days of deployment. 3750+ scenarios were mastered with a usage consistency of 75%.
RapL helped managers take ownership of their teams, and also identified areas where they need improvement through the detailed analytical dashboard. These dashboards enable managers to gain actionable insights. The analytical dashboard is an exclusive feature of the RapL platform to monitor usage, identify skill gaps and more.
With RapL, the top management was able to address these questions through the different modules offered by RapL.
- How to track individual skill and synchronize knowledge across various levels of staff in the shortest possible time?
- What insights can guide leaders to train employees?
- How to enable a user-defined content road map, which allows the progress of users to be assessed?
- How can leaders provide feedback to their employees?
The incorporation of gamification features within the app has promoted a culture of friendly rivalry among employees, and the leaderboards serve as a means for them to earn, acclaim and rewards. This approach has helped the company stay nimble and adapt to changes in the market.
Mr. Shavez, Head of Training, could find improvements in handling objections and overall sales in just 3-4 weeks of deploying RapL.
To begin practicing lean learning, organizations need to break off from measuring credits earned and focus on measuring business outcomes created. This shift in mindset ensures that employees learn not just for the sake of learning, but actively apply their new skills to drive business growth.
Product Microlearning Module
The level of product knowledge has drastically increased, and the discipline to learn has gone up
– Mr Shavez (Head of Training)
Casio’s adoption of lean learning has allowed the company to stay at the forefront of the electronics industry. By prioritizing continuous learning and improvement, Casio has demonstrated its commitment to providing innovative solutions to its customers.
While contemplating the insights and suggestions presented in this article, take a moment to reflect on the significance of frontline sales staff in your business or shopping encounters. Are you confident your organization is providing the continuous support and training necessary to help employees perform their best and drive business success?
At RapL, we understand the crucial role of well-trained and supported frontline sales staff to achieve business success. Our team of experts can provide you with valuable insights and solutions to optimize your employee training and support programs. So don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and take your business to the next level.
Dear reader, thanks for being with us all the way till the end. We suggest 2 things from here
1. Speak to us if you want a microlearning strategy deep-dive: Microlearning is extremely effective, if approached sensibly. Microlearning is the answer to today’s shortening attention spans and we know how to make learning successful via microlearning. Drop your context here and we shall partner with you for the rest.
2. Lap up more content: We have written some intense literature on how microlearning is the superglue between people and successful business operations. Access all of it here.
Ah, microlearning for managers – the hero of continuous learning! For those who want their teams to work…