There's only so much cutting any retailer can do to prop up the bottom line. Eventually, merchants need to move the top line upward and that, according to a Wall Street Journal article, is why an increasing number of companies are investing in training and adding financial incentives to get store staff selling again.
J.C. Penney has given workers bonuses to promote greater customer service and the sales that come with it. "We really want to drive the top line, and we think the best way you can do that is by increasing customer service," Mike Theilmann, executive vice president of human resources and administration for the chain, told the Journal.
The department store has also planned a three-day conference to improve the sales skills of managers, hopefully something they can pass on to staff. Managers will take part in one-hour sessions on how to sell products in a variety of categories in Penney stores including clothing, furniture and jewelry. Managers will come out of the conference with an "action plan" for improving sales in each category, according to the company.
Home Depot is also looking to translate better customer service into sales. The company now puts its cashiers through a training program that sales associates complete. Cashiers are trained to find out if shoppers found everything they were looking for and, if not, calling appropriate departments to find a product.
Thomas Spahr, vice president of learning with Home Depot, told the Journal, "It's about building a strong relationship with you, so you come back, and that results in improved sales."
Discussion Questions: How would you rate the general level of selling skills in retail stores today? What are the keys to selling at retail and how do successful companies achieve high levels of performance across the organization?
What grade would you give the retail industry as a whole for its selling skills?