by Vince Rath – Optimum Retail Solutions
November 18, 2020
Baseball is a sport that tracks more statistics than any other. Every hit, out and error are measured, stored and reported on, ad nauseum. There are legendary sports commentators who can peel off player stats as if they were their own kids’ names. The book Moneyball (and movie based on it) written by Michael Lewis, demonstrated the baseball industry’s evolution to rely on statistics to build winning teams – it was a fascinating story but what does it have to do with selling jewelry?
How do you objectively determine the impact you or a member of your team has on the business, especially in a year like 2020? There was an unprecedented work stoppage early in the year. Most of the country was closed for two months and despite that many retailers are having their best year ever. Why? Sure, people have more disposable income because travel, dining and other forms of entertainment have been seriously curtailed. Government stimulus money certainly helped as well but how do we determine each person’s contribution to those results? What can we duplicate next year when those other environmental conditions are not present?
These are the types of questions we hear every week. Retailers know that to compete in this environment their people, processes and programs must continuously improve. They realize that there is more to developing sales skills than motivational meetings and catchy romance phrases. Supervisors want the ability to analyze behaviors, determine improvement areas and then apply solutions that actually change results. So, let’s talk about how to do that.
The first thing to realize is this….it is impossible to manage sales. Yes, impossible. The only thing we can truly manage are the behaviors that produce sales. Therefore, we need a methodology that defines the steps of the process and clarifies best practices within each. At the same time, we need reporting. As we learned in Moneyball, all behavior produces an output that can be measured. Whether it was a player’s On Base Percentage or their Slugging Percentage, Billy Beane, the story’s hero, knew that the more often a player reached base, the more likely they were to score runs. The same is true in sales. The better our teams are at behaviors such as Greeting, Showing Merchandise, Building Value or Handling Objections, the more likely they will produce sales! The issue is, which one to focus on?
We teach our clients a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) approach to skill development. We track several numbers that provide clues about the behaviors that produced them, and supervisors use this information to prioritize their coaching efforts. For instance, Average Transaction Value or the average amount spent by a customer provides many valuable clues. A deficiency in this number could indicate a reluctance to show expensive merchandise or add-on additional items. It may also showcase a shortcoming in one’s ability to Build Value and use Feature/Benefit statements. Armed with this information, the manager can begin to inspect or confirm these assumptions through purposeful salesfloor observation. Once they have evidence, when data and observation validate one another, the manager can confidently apply the appropriate coaching, training or performance management to reinforce desired behavior or redirect the undesired.
So, what’s the moral of the story? Consider the potential impact on the company through this type of supervision. If we use data to identify small opportunities for each individual and then provide specific and targeted coaching/training for improvement, what is the cumulative effect? More hits, more runs and many more wins!
Optimum Retail Solutions