I was talking to one of my Square Root peers a few weeks ago and she mentioned that even though she lives in the south part of town, she drives way north just to shop at HER Sephora. We work at Square Root, so of course we were chatting about retail and sales and store performance. She was pondering over how she drives out of her way to the store she likes because she has a great relationship with those beauty consultants.

I wasn’t at all surprised by her comment. If you’re knee deep in store management, then you probably aren’t surprised either. We get it. This is how retail works. The one constant to getting great traffic is developing great customer experience and a stellar sales team. Store managers and sales managers constantly ask themselves, “How can I develop my sales team? What can I do with them that will be a game-changer and drive traffic to my store?” And the answer is simple but not easy.

Invest in your team.

While there are some things that the company can do for sales teams at a national level, most actionable investment happens at the store level. We really get to make the investment in our people. Every store is like a retail family, and we spend 40-60 hours per week together. It’s up to us to make each other the best we can be.

This might seem obvious, but if we’re in the middle of a downturn in 4th quarter sales… one of the first things that we do is pull back on sales help. What does this look like to the customer? It means they walk into a store that’s a wreck because there aren’t enough hands on deck to clean regularly. It means they can’t find a person on the floor because there aren’t enough people to cover every area. It means they don’t get greeted for 20-30 minutes, or maybe not greeted at all.

In retail, we’re currently experiencing in-store shopping flight. More and more people are taking their shopping online. So your company worked real hard to get the customer in the door, and with low sales help, they’re going to have a bad experience. When we pull back in staffing and sales support, it causes a vicious downward cycle. Sales are down, so we don’t invest in sales, so sales go down even further. It’s hard, but reversing sales performance actually means a continued investment in quality staffing.

Nurture internal relationships.

Coaching and sales training can be expensive, and sometimes you can’t get enough national support to cover the coaching that you want. Do official training whenever you can, but remember that there is a lot of coaching and relationship building that you can do outside of traditional training.

When I was a store manager, I had a hard time communicating with one of our district managers. We worked around it, but this emphasized how important having successful relationships was for job performance. I wanted to have the opposite approach with my team. And overall, I had a great relationship with my people—from managers down to stockers. It was hard and it took a lot of work, but they were loyal and happy. In general, I had people showing up early, staying late, and putting just that little extra bit of effort into their tasks.

So ask yourself… how does your team respond to you? How do they approach their job? What do you think your staff is saying when you’re not around? And lastly, how does their attitude rub off on your customers?

It goes higher than the store level too. It matters how well your CEO connects with regional vice presidents, and how regional vice presidents connect with the managers in his or her region. That kind of ownership from the top down is wildly important. It’s important that all of these relationships think about accountability and understand that accountability goes both ways.

Use technology that supports your goals.

The right technologies can help any retail store improve. About 50% of the responders in a Synchrony Financial study said that they bought something after seeing it on social media.1 That number jumps to 76% for millennial shoppers.2 With this type of sales boost, it’s no wonder that Nordstrom integrated Pinterest into in-store interactive displays.3 Smart technology is good for your customers and your team.  

When I worked in retail, I watched as a clientele program was implemented in women’s cosmetics. The sales team had been asking for something like that program for years. Previously the sales team kept track of their customers using pen and paper, and now they had an easier and more productive way to provide better repeat customer experiences.

The right technology supports your staff and makes training easier for them. We’ve talked to so many district managers that spend at least one entire day (sometimes two) trying to collect and then disseminate important sales information to their team. CoEFFICIENT® lets brands automate that, so district managers aren’t losing 20-40% of their week crunching and moving data. And they get to spend more time on communication, action plans, and accountability.

The right technology can also stave off downward trends in customer traffic and sales. Your team has real time analytics at their fingertips, and you can use predictive metrics to see performance opportunities and respond to downward trends immediately. Our team of data scientists can provide significantly more insight in your data, so you can ramp up your store performance. They’re a valuable resource for large retail enterprises.

To find out more about our data scientists, our platform, and how we can help you invest in your team, contact us.


1. “Driving Shopper Engagement through Digital Technology.” Synchrony Financial. Oct. 2016. https://www.synchronyfinancial.com/Driving%20Shopper%20Engagement%20Through%20Digital%20Technology.pdf   
2. Ibid.  
3. Lutz, Ashley. “Nordstrom Will Use Pinterest to Decide What Merchandise to Display in Stores.” Business Insider. Nov. 2013. http://www.businessinsider.com/nordstroms-pinterest-in-stores-plan-2013-11   

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