The evolution of retail sales teams

One of the most overlooked weapons in a retailer’s arsenal is not digital marketing or its assortment of merchandise, but is, in fact, the seller. Always considered the front-line workers in our industry, they are often the shortest route to customer retention or dissatisfaction. It’s no secret that the customer knows they have all the cards, so it’s up to the retailer to meet them where and how they want… regardless of location, format or platform . The best retailers understand that there is no one size fits all and that a very flexible and personalized approach often helps build customer loyalty.

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One of my top ten retail predictions for 2021 was that consumer / employee behavior will never go back to where it was. Now that we’ve seen the return of shopping in many parts of the country, it’s safe to say that was a very accurate prediction. As Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA for Facebook, noted in “The Future of Shopping Has Come Early”, “… This mass digital education of the public has been an intergenerational phenomenon that has very quickly had a cross-category impact: the digitization of all customer journeys, from interest to purchase through to the customer experience.

Just because you have a customer in your store doesn’t mean it’s the beginning or the end of their buying journey. They likely saw a targeted advertisement on Instagram, searched for the product and prices online at multiple retailers, and then went to your store to check it out in person. Are you going to close the sale with the best price or, better yet, the best service? Or will they leave your store empty-handed and head to your competitor?

Today’s smartest retailers see their customer service and sales reps as brand ambassadors, employed not only to drive sales but also to increase loyalty. As Salesforce

CRM
called in a recent white paper, 10 steps to empower customer service agents, a “5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25% to 85%”.

Today’s customer service teams have evolved to add far more value than simply resolving customer complaints. Liveops, a virtual call center resource, has grown its associate network by nearly 80% since the start of the pandemic. According to Liveops CEO Greg Hanover, “Liveops provides work-from-home opportunities for thousands of experienced retail professionals whose careers have been disrupted by retail store closings.” These agents are highly skilled at providing a personalized consumer experience, as well as cross-selling and upselling, which adds significantly to the average order value. These virtual customer service agents now act as an extension of in-store sales teams, playing a much bigger role in a retailer’s success and, ultimately, a customer’s loyalty. Hanover went on to say that “these agents not only provide the empathetic human connection that consumers seek, but also… help drive additional sales.” In a recent survey, Liveops found that among the most common reasons a consumer contacts customer service, 68% do so to ask for help while shopping online and 50% do so to place an order. . Imagine the suggestive selling that can accompany these inquiries!

In addition, the role of the in-store salesperson has also evolved into a concierge, stylist, packer and hybrid delivery man. According to Fashion business, Macy’s Inc.

M
Will hire 11,000 associates they call “store colleagues” primarily in the areas of sales and experience. He said many of these positions will be for store operations where they will serve as “line colleagues” to handle same-day deliveries, pickup and packing and curbside pickup.

Today’s salespeople do everything: check-out; pick up and pack; customers by e-mail, WhatsApp, SMS and Instagram; organize virtual private shopping events and styling sessions with their own social network; even the rental of spas and hotel suites for sale days. Direct selling, which has become big business in Asia, has yet to be adopted to the same degree in the United States, but platforms such as Common Sold help small and medium physical retailers optimize their sales with an approach. similar to QVC.

QVCA
on steroids.

Given the customer’s demand for a highly individualized approach, the best way for a retailer to handle this new era is to hire their in-store sales team for flexibility, to allow associates to personalize the relationship, and to stay. as close to the customer as possible. possible. Heck, they can even start asking questions of customers so they can get to know them better in the post-pandemic world.

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