As the busy holiday shopping season approaches, retail businesses are gearing up for a hiring spree. However, it’s important to not just fill open sales positions but instead hire a person with the skills and traits for the job.
Great sales professionals use their skillset to understand a customer’s need and guide them toward the right product. In this blog post, we highlight what those skills are and how retail businesses can uncover them when hiring for sales positions.
Regardless of your business’s focus, your sales associates need to be friendly and welcoming to the people that come into the store. They should have an outgoing personality and strong verbal communication skills so your customers feel comfortable asking questions that can result in a sale.
You should be able to get a sense for how friendly a potential sales associate is in your initial conversation with them. Eye contact, a smile and a general interest in what you’re saying are all signs of an extroverted personality that would make for a strong retail professional.
Even if someone has an outgoing demeanor and sales experience, it doesn’t necessary mean they’ll be a good fit for your business. They should have knowledge and a passion for what your company sells so they properly articulate everything a customer needs to know. Ideally, they should be a user of the products in your store so they can build trust and lend insights from their own experiences.
Even if a candidate is a bit reserved in the interview, a strong understanding and interest in what your company sells can make them a solid sales associate. It’s a good sign that little training will be required and they’ll enjoy working for your company.
There is a fine line between being a strong retail professional that guides a customer toward a sale and a pushy salesperson that puts off a potential customer. The best sales associates ask questions and read non-verbal cues to understand what a customer needs, then leads them toward a solution. Customers should feel as if your sales associates really want to help them leave the store with the product that best fits their needs.
It can be tough to get a sense for this quality in job interviews but asking the candidate to participate in a mock conversation can help. You can play the part of the customer and learn if they would approach interactions on the sales floor in the right way.
While it’s important for retail professionals to not be too pushy, they do have to identify other sales opportunities. That means telling a customer about another product they could benefit from, often in addition to the one they’re already going to buy. It can also mean guiding a customer to a product with a higher price point than the one they’re considering, provided the customer will be interested.
The key is the sales associate should identify these opportunities when they’re likely to happen and not try to force anything. A candidate with an in-depth knowledge of the products your business sells will be able to upsell when there is a chance to do so.
Sales skills aside, anyone you hire should be an extension of your business’s brand. They should look and act like the people who come into your store so customers relate to the person pitching your inventory items. If your store sells clothing or fashion accessories, your retail professionals should wear those items. If your store projects a certain lifestyle, your sales staff needs to appear as if they represent that demographic.
When hiring, a candidate who represents your brand will also likely be a user of your products and have a strong interest in what your company does. Sales skills can be taught but a passion for what your business represents cannot.
Some retail professionals believe their job is 100 percent selling, especially when commission is involved. But as the leader of a retail business, you likely know there is a lot more to do around the store. Inventory needs to be organized, new employees need to be trained, phones need to be answered and cleaning and upkeep needs to be done to keep the store looking good. It’s important for retail professionals to understand there won’t always be customers on the floor and they need to keep themselves busy during the downtimes.
You should always give a tour of your store when interviewing candidates so they can get a sense of the little tasks involved in the job.
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