Mark O'Dolan on Engaging your staff

Mark O'Dolan on Engaging your staff

At this year’s NEC bike show, I was one of the keynote speakers talking to retailers about improving sales performance per square foot. 

One of the topics discussed and recognised as a problem by business owners was selling skills. It’s always a popular topic and something we don’t take seriously enough. In many instances, I hear managers and business owners say things along the lines of: “We don’t like the hard sell. We like the customer to look around and feel comfortable,” or even: “We’re not very good at selling. It isn’t our thing, so we just say: ‘Hi, please let me know if you need anything’.” Here’s the thing. It actually doesn’t matter what the retailer thinks, it’s what the customer demands: a skilled and passionate team that can engage without making them feel uncomfortable. Asking a customer a closed question like: “Can I help?” and then getting a definitive answer such as: “No thanks,” is totally hopeless and massively reduces sales conversion. One of the most pertinent skills required by the sales team is the ability to get into the customer’s head to understand why they’ve walked into your shop. You have to ask yourself who they are buying for. What’s their level of bike knowledge?

Do they have a vast budget or is it limited? The difference between online buying and making a purchase in your shop is the people – are we making the experience memorable for the customer versus the convenience of shopping online?

Selling skills – it’s always a popular topic and something we don’t take seriously enough

Conversion ratio – the percentage of people who actually walk into the shop versus who actually buy – is a critical key performance indicator. It should be measured daily, ideally, and at the minimum weekly. These results should be discussed at your Monday sales meeting and measured against your week previous, previous year and weekly budget. This must be shared with the team. The conversion rate is directly affected by poor or great engagement. It could be as high as 30 per cent or as low as five per cent, which is a prominent indicator for change. Chain stores inside and outside the bike retail market review the previous seven days of business and the conversion rate of each store on a Monday morning, and look for exceptions, both above and below average. This is a critical KPI that helps to understand success and failure, resulting in action to increase sales.

Are you doing this?
If the owner/manager is not consistent with this review, then the team will not focus and will not perform to their optimum potential, thus are unlikely to increase or maintain a high conversion rate. This subsequently leads to lower revenue. A team performing badly in comparison to the average is a team likely to be without targets and lacking in knowledge and passion. Hopefully, not all three, but it all starts with targets and this is either a major failing or opportunity for retailers. Without targets, every day is the same and you lose the passion to achieve. Every Monday is review day to assess progress from weeks previous. If you are up on target then that’s great, but it’s important to ask yourself: why?

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Tags: bikebiz , news , Mark O'Dolan , Highst Retailer , op-ed

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