Did you know that employees with extensive knowledge can boost sales by up to 87% compared to their less knowledgeable counterparts? It’s no wonder customers get frustrated when they have to repeat their issues to multiple representatives, with 89% admitting to feeling that way. This knowledge gap is significant because, with more knowledge, comes the ability to upsell and cross-sell, potentially increasing promotional purchasing by a whopping 200-300%.
But it’s not just about sales. Product and service knowledge plays a vital role in delivering excellent customer service, a fact acknowledged by 75% of customers. By investing in training to enhance knowledge, businesses can distinguish themselves and improve customer retention. And it’s not only customers who benefit; employees who possess in-depth knowledge are more likely to be passionate about what they sell, leading to increased employee morale. As a result, these engaged employees are 59% less likely to start searching for new job opportunities within the next year.
Develop your retail employee training program
In many retail settings, product and service knowledge training often begins and ends with an induction, but what happens when employees forget that knowledge? Or when information changes? Or new products are introduced? Developing and maintaining product knowledge in retail should be an ongoing process to ensure that your employees can consistently deliver the best possible service to customers. Ultimately, this continuous development of expertise helps to maximize sales. According to Experticity’s retail research, employees who actively participate in training and educational programs, even completing just one module or form of training, sell 69% more than those who don’t. Furthermore, employees who complete six or more modules are able to achieve an astounding 123% increase in sales compared to their untrained counterparts.
Identifying training needs
Retailers who have a considered program in place or have developed a means of knowledge sharing organically may already be in a strong position. If one or more of the following signs rings a bell though, you may need to consider making changes to how your training is delivered:
- Employees lack clarity about the product you sell
- Sales conversations taking longer than they should
- Poor upselling or cross-selling successes within the company
- Prospects pulling out of a sale partway through the process
- Poor progression of prospects through the sales pipeline
- A greater than expected number of product returns
- A lack of customer understanding about the products you sell
- A lot of time spent on customer service conversations
- Poor customer satisfaction levels or feedback
- Lower than expected numbers of repeat purchases
Develop your retail training program
Retail employee training considerations
As with any product and service knowledge training, retailers need to give some thought to how to get the most out of it:
- Goals: More sales from upselling, for example? Or maybe better customer service feedback? This helps to shape the content of your training and how it is delivered.
- Roles: What jobs do your learners do? Obviously, this dictates what the content will be, but it also shapes the delivery. For example, regional managers working across multiple branches may benefit from mobile access to training, while office-based salespeople might benefit from one-to-one, on-the-job input.
- ROI: For any retailer, the bottom line should always be front of mind and it’s important to know the cost of training to figure out its ROI. If it looks like sales from increased upselling aren’t too much more than the cost of your upselling training program, then you’ll want to try and further reduce training costs so you can achieve a bigger margin.
Approaches to retail product training
There are various approaches to training, each suited for specific types of training. The primary goal of product and service knowledge training is to equip employees with valuable information. However, ineffective training where employees are left guessing is counterproductive.
To guard against this, you can include Certainty Based Marking to assess employee knowledge. This method not only determines correctness but also considers the confidence level in their responses. Adopting this technique enables organizations to verify the strength of employee knowledge and identify areas for improvement in training.
Product and service knowledge training doesn’t have to be arduous or time-consuming. It can be delivered effectively in bite-sized, easily digestible chunks. Microlearning, which provides concise information or short quizzes to employees on their mobile devices, allows for efficient training without significant time loss, offering flexibility in choosing the training schedule.
Calculating training ROI
Retailers often overlook the potential return on investment when sourcing training. Even if training proves successful, the cost often outweighs the resulting benefit. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the potential ROI in advance. While it may be challenging and not an exact science, the effort is always worthwhile.
- Identify a quantifiable goal (e.g. increase upselling by 33% from £3,000 to £4,000 per month)
- Set KPIs for tracking performance against goal (e.g. upsale value per week)
- Calculate annual value of achieving goal (e.g. £1,000 x 12 = £12,000)
- Cost up annual product and service knowledge (e.g. 50 learners at £10 / learner / month = £6,000)
- Consider cost versus training value (e.g. Value of £12,000 – cost of £6,000 = £6,000 credit)
Some useful tips
- Keep it quick: Our brains are not geared up to remember big chunks of information in one go. Instead, deliver product and service knowledge training continuously but in short, digestible chunks.
- Make it fun: To improve employee engagement, keep training informal and introduce game-like elements, such as prizes and leaderboards.
- Track results: To gauge the effectiveness of your training, it is crucial to identify the relevant metrics to monitor. These metrics should align with your training goals. For instance, conducting frequent short tests can provide a straightforward measure of knowledge retention, and customer satisfaction surveys can offer valuable insights into the practical application of employees’ knowledge. By selecting the appropriate metrics, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of the impact of your training efforts.
Learn more about how Wranx can help retailers like you with onboarding, product and sales training here. Increase knowledge, improve the customer experience and maximize sales.