Teams in virtually every sport have a training camp before the start of their season. Players aren't necessarily out of shape, and they haven't forgotten the fundamentals of the game, but they need to sharpen their skills and come together as a team.
Our "season" officially starts in three weeks, although some of you are already seeing some nice pre-season action. Now is the perfect time to sharpen our holiday skills to prepare ourselves to have a winning season.
Just as with a sports team at training camp, I recommend a series of "drills" for retailers. Don't worry. I'm not going to suggest wind sprints, but practicing one element of your holiday experience every couple days will pay off.
The first thing is to brainstorm a list of things you want to practice and coach on in holiday training camp. Then, narrow down the list and assign one area of focus each day. By the time Black Friday comes around your staff will be in-shape and ready for the season.
I can't give you a definitive list since all of your stores are so different, but I can give you some areas to look at. (Almost all these are taught in the Holiday Winning Ways program.)
- Welcome, or at least acknowledge, every customer when he/she comes into your store, even if you're already with a customer. Acknowledging a customer when the store is busy is key to keeping them in the store.
- Engage the customer without using those tired and overused lines that leads to the customer to say, "Just looking." The "just looking" is an easy habit to fall into during this busy time of year, so be aware of your language as you're engaging your customers.
- Introduce yourself to your customer, and ask for his/her name. Then use it. Doing this or not is your choice, but not calling customers by name is a key difference between average and top-performers in high volume stores.
- Practice "Who Not What." Focus on the needs of your customer or the gift recipient, not the product(s) the customer says he/she is looking for. Who is the customer thinking about buying this for? What is that person's name? What do they like? Remember, the more you know the more you sell. This is just as true in November and December as it is the rest of the year.
- Don't stop the sale. I'm positive more associates than customer stop the sale. Selling on and not stopping the sale can make the difference between a satisfied customer and a delighted one. It can also make the difference between a good holiday and a wildly successful one.
- Team selling. Practice helping each other out to reinforce the customer's purchase, add additional products for the customer to experience, and giving another viewpoint to the sale. The best stores do this naturally; ALL of us should practice it before the holidays.
- Gift wrapping under pressure. (For stores that offer it.) This might seem like a silly thing to practice, but when I was at The Sharper Image I had a team who did a good job of gift-wrapping until the store got super busy. Then the quality dropped, and so did the customer's experience. Quick drills now will save you from a problem when it counts.
What do you say, Coach? Are you ready to kick-off Holiday Training Camp? Practicing one drill every couple days now will guarantee that everyone has his/her A game ready come the start of the season.
Doug Fleener, a proven retail and customer experience expert and speaker/consultant, helps companies dramatically improve their customer experience and their sales results. Visit the Dynamic Experiences Group website, or call Doug at 866-535-6331 to discuss how he can help you create extraordinary results. Learn about Doug's keynotes and workshops at DougFleener.com.
My Holiday Winning Ways online training program is live and ready to train your staff on how to sell more this holiday. It is a four-module interactive online training that can be taken on smartphones, tablets, and computers by each member of your team. It’s extremely affordable, and a great way to get your staff ready for the holidays. You can learn more about the program here.