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Lessons learned: Monitor performance, generate better results

November 26/December 3, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 12

By Tom Jennings

 

Store owners and managers, this one’s for you.

In my experience in consulting retailers on a national basis, I get the opportunity to observe a large and varied amount of sales personnel in action. One glaring observation I have noticed is most of these salespeople need one thing that appears to be sadly lacking in most operations: some constructive and active management.

I am not talking about someone who makes out the schedule and has the ability to approve offers. (Every store has someone who fits this description; their primary job seems to be to manage people.) I am referring to someone who is routinely analyzing and adjusting sales performance. This is a task that extends far beyond just reviewing sales totals.

I often ask myself why this critical task seems to be minimized, if not completely ignored, when the tools with which to do so are easily accessed. To me, this seems to occur for a number of reasons.

Decision makers in many retail businesses appear to not highly prioritize managing the performance of their people. They seem to spend the bulk of their time and energy on everything from store location, relations with current vendors, seeking new vendors, advertising expenditures or other big picture issues. Often it appears to be an issue of spending so much time and energy on the “urgent” things that they forget to do the “important” things.

What is gained by trying to always buy a dime cheaper or to invent the next great promotion if your staff is routinely letting sales and profit opportunities walk out the front door?

As a manager, ask yourself: Do I know the actual close rate of each salesperson? What about average ticket of each salesperson? What percentage of each salesperson’s sales are good, quality items as opposed to promotional products? Do I know the mix of goods being sold? What percent of their sales contain an upgraded or add-on purchase? You get the picture.

My guess is you keep score when you play cards, go golfing or go bowling. It is the only way that we can measure our performance on a given day. Why is it, then, do so many owners and managers not keep score at work?

Managing performance has always been important, but it is even more so in today’s retail climate where we experience decreased customer traffic and increasing big box and online competition. Imagine how beneficial it would be if we could raise the close rates and average ticket of each customer that we sell by even a percentage point or two. Since the overhead does not change, a great percentage of this increase will go straight to the bottom line generating more profit dollars.

The opportunity to boost your margins is great. However, you must first take a deeper look into your sales team’s current performance, then set individual goals and offer coaching as to how these improvements can be accomplished.

Remember the old saying: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t grow it.”

Just telling an RSA where to go is never enough. First, you must show them the way. And this only comes from taking the time required to working closely with reps to ensure they are always improving.