The evolution of retail sales has followed an increase in new sales technology and buying trends. Since the introduction of the credit card in the 1920s or the 1990s ecommerce boom, sales teams have had to rapidly learn how to use new sales technology to keep up with the changing industry. And their response to the current health crisis should be no different. Going forward, learning and development teams will need to design sales enablement training that balances training strategies for preexisting trends with the immediate challenges of our new normal.
If recent changes to our way of work have shown us anything, it’s the importance of expanding the online channels for both consumers and salespeople. We’ve a new precedent for retail operations, and L&D teams will have to take note if they want to enable their salespeople to succeed. So, let’s discuss three trends that will carry and shape retail sales enablement training in the new decade.
The Importance of Customer Reviews
Compared to this time last year, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that physical retail sales decreased 7.7%, while online sales increase 8.4%. There’s no doubt that retail sales are going to continue shifting toward digital experiences, but with this shift comes an increased focus on reviews – including both products and buying experiences with sales people and customer services representatives. Online reviews represent positive customer experiences, and 88% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase. So, this will be a key performance indicator, and an area of improvement for sales enablement training in the years to come. And the goal is to facilitate a positive customer experience with knowledge, awareness, and ease.
Sales Enablement Training for Product Knowledge
Online retail channels with an excess of information have changed the buying behaviors of consumers. Customers often have in-depth product knowledge before walking into a storefront. Arguably, social distancing procedures and changes to storefront operations will accelerate this trend. So, salespeople are going to be expected to be more knowledgeable and provide better insight. And short of memorization, this means that salespeople are going to need actionable information at their fingertips.
Microlearning solutions have certainly shown promise for improving product knowledge. Moreover, the bite-sized design of microlearning content improves accessibility when paired with mobile training technology, enabling salespeople to quickly make use of training assets on-the-job. For instance, a custom eLearning solution designed for Certified Angus Beef helped salespeople discuss the benefits of their product and brand, as well as improve upon customer interactions with 5 microlearning modules.
Sales Enablement Tech Trends
The point of sale (POS) is where ownership of the product passes from the seller to the customer. These were once centralized cash registers, but they function much differently now. Though registers of some form remain, retail technology is shifting toward mobile POS systems, and alternative payment methods such as Apple Pay, Credit and Debit cards, Venmo. However, this trend has also been accelerated by the current health crisis. Most businesses are avoiding the use of cash, creating an uncharacteristic dependence on cards and alternative payment methods. But are salespeople prepared for this shift? They will undoubtedly need more training as this technology expands.
Of course, cashless payment isn’t a recent phenomenon; the world of retail has already seen a rise in mobile and tablet POS systems. These cloud-based systems offer a lot of advantages to businesses, they track transactions and data and automate operations like offering discounts or refunds to unhappy customers.
The mobile nature of these POS systems (mPOS) offers its own set of advantages. Mobile point of sale systems give sales teams access to product information, customer purchase history, and can actually ring the customer up from any location on the premise. Target recently implemented their “myCheckout” technology, a handheld mPOS system. This technology decreases lines and wait times, and given the current crises, wherein physically attending a store can be an anxious experience, these systems also help customers feel more at ease.
Sales Enablement Solutions for Retail Employees
So, why not use these systems to help salespeople feel supported as well? This goes back to the importance of providing customers informed, positive experiences. Perhaps we should integrate sales enablement training into these mobile platforms as well. Consider building custom systems training for your mPOS system, and hosting it on the same platform. This would allow salespeople to quickly review key functions without having to take much time away from their customer interactions.
It’s no secret that business bends to the buyer, and the buyers of today shop much differently than their predecessors. Customers now request more, know more, and say more. So, it will take more work to support your salespeople. But by making use of microlearning and mobile learning technologies, salespeople will be better prepared to adjust to the accelerated trends in the retail space. How you approach your sales enablement training strategy going forward will not only determine the success of your salespeople but your organization’s place in the next decade as well.