It's natural to want to get as much out of your sales reps as possible. You've made a significant investment in them, and you want to see some positive return on that investment.
So, you try to keep them as busy as possible.
You take into account all of the tasks that go into running a successful retail store. You prioritize the tasks, and probably even make a checklist out of them.
What goes into that checklist? Things like:
- Wipe the counters.
- Clean the windows.
- Mop the floors.
- Restock inventory.
- Organize the product shelves.
- Arrange promotional signage.
- Check cash registers.
While all of these things are important to maintaining a functioning retail business, there's just one problem.
They're all being used to keep your sales reps busy.
What's wrong with busy, you ask?
In a retail environment, the bread and butter of your business is selling product. In order to sell product, your sales reps need to be interacting with customers.
How many of the items in that list create more customer interactions?
Sweeping the floor for the 3rd time that day isn't going to give you an opportunity to interact with new, and existing, customers.
But, it's unrealistic to think that your store will constantly be full of people. There is always going to be some down time, sometimes in significant amounts.
What happens then?
Keep your sales team focused on their role
We love to talk about shining examples of retail done right. And if you're looking for leaders in retail, you can do no wrong by looking at how Apple does things.
Apple store employees (or "Specialists", as Apple likes to call them) are thoroughly trained in creating memorable customer experiences.
Their sole focus is customer interactions. In fact, they often learn more about Steve Jobs and his sales philosophies than the products they're selling.
They don't do busy.
You will never see an Apple "Specialist" engaged in any non-selling activities. That's not in their job description.
Cleaning is left to cleaners, inventory management is handled by inventory managers, and so on.
But if there are no people in store, where can you find your customers?
What to do with all of that idle time
In 2016, the very definition of retail has changed dramatically. You may have a physical retail location, but that's not the only place you'll find people.
There are a wide variety of new channels for your sales reps to interact and engage with customers.
Social media, messaging, and even old school phone calling present great opportunities to activate your team's idle time and build customer relationships.
But what makes these channels more powerful than ever before? Data.
We are living in an information age. We go about our day-to-day lives constantly consuming and processing data.
This data can be organized into actionable information your sales team can use. (with the right tools, of course)
Now, instead of wasting time on menial tasks just to keep busy, your reps will be engaging with your customers through their preferred channels, be that via messaging, social media, or the traditional phone call.
Think less about keeping busy, and more about empowerment.
Give your sales team the tools they need to be at their best, and remember that your customers can be found everywhere these days.
Invest in tools that activate your idle time, and idle data.
And leave the cleaning to someone else next time.
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