There are two fundamental ways for home improvement retailers to increase sales. You can get new customers to shop with your business or you can sell more products to existing customers. The truth is it’s easier and less costly to retain your current customers. Getting employees to focus on selling more products to customers begins with product knowledge training. It helps employees feel confident they are sharing the correct information with customers and gives them the ability to upsell or recommend add-on purchases.
It’s only natural that employees don’t want to talk about or sell products that are unfamiliar to them. In many cases that’s the reason customers who come in to purchase a faucet, only leave with a faucet. They may also need putty or basic tools to complete the project. If sales associates are not trained it is a missed opportunity for add-on sales. One of the reasons shoppers visit the local hardware store, or home improvement business is to get advice from someone they trust to assist them with DIY projects.
Most staff members are eager to learn more about the products they sell. It’s up to you to provide them with opportunities for learning and encouragement to be successful. Providing product training can be relatively inexpensive without significant investments in time. Here are a few ideas on where to begin.
Videos and Sales Materials
Vendors are a primary source of information about products. Manufacturer and YouTube videos, sales brochures and instruction pamphlets usually include product specifications, installation, and application techniques. Consider creating a file that contains vendor literature. Divide it into sections by product/project category to make the information easily accessible by the sales staff. You may be surprised at the number of associates who refer to this handy reference resource.
In larger establishments, staff members are usually assigned to be the point person for a specific department. For example, plumbing and electrical, paint, lawn & garden, or tools and rentals. Retailers who are affiliated with certain wholesalers often have access to online courses that can assist employees with product knowledge training. The courses are designed to let employees learn at their own pace, and receive a certificate after training has been completed. This level of training is particularly beneficial for new hires, or associates who have been reassigned to a department they have not worked in previously.
Demos by Sales Reps
Sales reps can be an invaluable resource for training your team. One of their roles is to convince retailers to stock the products they sell. Demos are the easiest way to accomplish this. When it comes to selling products, seeing is believing. Arrange for your sales rep to come in and demonstrate specialty products to the team, especially more complex products such as tools or grills. This allows associates to ask questions and put themselves in the shoes of the customer.
Sharing What You Know
You undoubtedly have a wealth of knowledge about how to sell and use the products you carry. Share the knowledge with your associates at weekly or monthly meetings. Make up a list of topics you want to cover ahead of time. Share the list with team members. You can also assign a topic that you would like other associates to cover during the meeting. This will keep everyone engaged and motivate them to conduct research, and learn more about specific product categories. The presentations should include related items and how to approach customers to introduce them to new products.
Customers appreciate and trust employees that have worked with a product, or have completed the project themselves. Many products and projects lend themselves to hands-on training. You can change the demonstrations every season based on customers buying habits for specific projects.
In addition to product knowledge, employees may also require technical training on POS systems and how to use them to maximize results. This may require paying for a workshop. In most cases, the employee will receive a dedicated question and answer time with an expert or a representative of the company that built the system. If you are affiliated with a wholesaler that holds dealer markets, emerging technology, and POS systems are topics that are often covered.
These are a few practical options that can assist you with product training. Customers are doing their product research online before they come into your store. They expect store employees to know how to use the products they sell, and to display confidence when answering questions. Customers are open to buying additional products for their projects for someone their view as a trusted advisor.