Employee turnover: Are you causing it or preventing it?

Jan. 3, 2012 | by Harry Friedman

There are many causes for turnover, but the single biggest reason for turnover in retail stores today is the inability of the sales staff to be successful. But what does this mean? Generally, people will choose not to do something they feel they cannot be successful doing. This doesn't mean that a salesperson will quit if they are not No. 1 in sales each month. Perhaps a salesperson who has been with you for five years might leave because they feel like they can't succeed at your store. Or, the top salesperson might leave because they have succeeded and need to find a new challenge. What about the employees who leave within their first year of employment? Let's look at an extreme example to illustrate a point.

You hired Bob last week and trained him in how to write up a sale, when to take a lunch break, all about product knowledge, etc. You also stressed that he must be helpful and friendly to customers and provide excellent customer service. Bob walks up to his first customer and says, "Can I help you?" The customer says, "No thanks, I'm just looking," and Bob feels he did his best. If Bob keeps this up, he will fail to make the sale more often than not. People can only feel this rejection and anxiety for so long. They quit because they feel like they can't win the game.

Realistically, you would have trained Bob more thoroughly in opening the sale, so this scenario would not occur. But, what if you showed Bob how to open the sale in more detail and he still ends up demonstrating merchandise to very few people?

Retail owners and managers train their sales staff by showing or telling them how and then asking, "Do you understand?" The biggest failure of these trainers is missing the next step required in training. It is Show Me. If you show Bob how to open the sale and you ask him if he understands, Bob will al­most always say yes. If you then ask him to show you, he may not be able to execute it at all. He needs more training, but if you don't ask him to show you, it may be too late be­fore you find that out. Bob will quit out of frustration from his own inability to do what he is supposed to do. Or, you will fire Bob out of frustration from his inability to live up to your expectations.

Telling or showing someone how to do something does not guarantee they can do it. Effective training requires the Show Me step on every task and skill the salesperson is required to master. So, how can you ensure that it gets done routinely during the training process? You can't, unless you actually build the Show Me step into your current training program. If you don't even have a training program, you must de­velop one.

When you take a close look at all of the details there are to teach a new salesperson, how could you possibly be effective at training without a plan and the Show Me step? Without both, training gets drawn out over a long period of time because of an unorganized approach to the process, if you're lucky. If you're not lucky, the sales­person quits before you get them completely trained. If this is the case, it is your fault. Build the Show Me step into your training pro­gram, and decrease unnecessary turnover by increasing your new salespeople's abil­ity to be successful at their new job.

Topics: Customer Experience , Customer Service , Employee Training , Hiring and Retention

Harry Friedman / Harry J. Friedman is an internationally acclaimed retail authority, consultant, trainer, speaker, and author. Since founding The Friedman Group in 1980, his high-performance sales and management training systems have been used by over 500,000 retailers worldwide.

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