One of the most important questions store owners ask is…


 “How can I increase my store sales?”


Innovative, attention grabbing marketing will certainly bring people in the door and a properly laid out store with eye grabbing displays get people in a buying mood. Carrying the right merchandise assortment will get your customers coming back for more. However, the BEST way to increase your sales is to create a service culture that sells, with an emphasis on “that sells.” 


Think about the very best salesperson in your store… who is it? It may even be you… What’s their average sale? What’s the number?  If you don’t know off the top of your head, that’s okay. For now just guess. Now think about the average sale for your other employees. What’s their number? Again, if you don’t have the exact number, that’s okay. You can look it up later. Just come up with an educated guess.  Now think about the difference in the average sale between your best salesperson and your run-of-the-mill sales person. What’s THAT number?


That number, that GAP between your best salesperson and the rest of your team, is how much money you’re losing every time someone other than your best salesperson helps one of your customers.  Lost money!  Money being left on the floor…


Take a minute to let that sink in.  Your best sales person isn’t getting DIFFERENT customers or BETTER customers than your average salespeople – they’re just doing MORE with the customers they’ve got!


It’s like your customer’s dollar bills are lying right there on the sales floor, but your average salespeople just aren’t picking them ALL up.  Transaction after transaction, day after day, year after year… they are leaving little piles of money on the sales floor. After a while it really adds up!


Now consider this… your best salespeople, the people who are putting the most money in the register, are almost always giving the best service.  Great selling is getting out on the floor and engaging with customers in a real and authentic way. It's not manipulation.  It's not trickery.  It's about the customer and helping them get the best result, the best way you know how.  It’s service.  In fact, it’s great service!

When your team understands the selling process and has the right kind of selling skills they won’t have to manipulate anybody.  They won’t have to trick anybody.  They can simply go out on the sales floor and do great things for your customers and their pets. 


The foundation of your culture is both product and sales training.  Many pet store owners do the right amount of product training but don’t engage in any serious sales training.  This is only doing half the job!  Your staff must not only know what they are selling they must also know how to sell it.


Here is some really good news…  Selling is a skill. You can teach it. They can learn it. Sure, some people are naturals – those are probably your best salespeople right now – but everyone can learn how to be a great salesperson. You, as an owner or manager, must teach and coach the skills.  You can’t expect someone to know what to do if you don’t teach them how to do it.


Sales training starts with having a process that can be taught, replicated and coached.  There are several retail sales training processes out there. Research on your favorite forum and get recommendations or create one yourself, but have a process to teach because every good sales training starts with a process.  A great example of this is “The Six Steps to the Perfect Purchase.”


While, this initial training is extremely valuable, it is not enough to create a culture.  Creating a selling and service culture takes time, focus and commitment.  Developing professional level skills in any endeavor takes practice, coaching and constant reinforcement.  Many of the industries top retailers have made retraining, coaching, role play and continuous product and sales training a regular part of their store’s culture.


The importance of continuous, on-going training cannot be overstated.  Unfortunately, this is the step that most people leave out. Which is unfortunate. Because study after study has shown that if learning is not reinforced and re-taught, people will forget 90% of what they have learned within ten days. Ninety percent!


It’s called the “forgetting curve.”  And it means that if you don’t follow up with continuous on-going training everything you’ve done up until this point will be, not useless, but certainly less than effective.  Without reinforcement people forget MOST of what they learn.


The good news is that through repeated re-teaching, people REMEMBER most of what they learn.  You can’t stop reinforcing and re-training. Ever. As soon as you do, skills will start to decline.


Think about something you knew by heart in high school or college – maybe it’s how to solve a quadratic equation or the ability to recite one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Can you still do it? What if you had been reminded about the quadratic equation or the sonnet say once a month from high school until now?  Do you think you would remember it then?


Here’s another way to look at it—do NBA players stop practicing free throws just because they’ve shot 10,000 free throws in the past or have a high free throw percentage in games? No! They are good because they continue to practice.  And just like pro athletes, your team has got to keep learning, practicing, and advancing their selling skills.


Creating and maintaining a service and selling culture is not an easy job, especially if you have a staff of “retail veterans” who are resistant to change. But that doesn’t change the fact that the BEST way to create an amazing experience for your customers and put a lot more money in your register is to build and maintain a sales and service culture.


Bob Negen is a retail expert who is passionate about the success of today’s independent retailer.  He is the co-author of the bestseller, Marketing Your Retail Store In The Internet Age, and co-creator of both acclaimed Retail Mastery System and the new on-line sales training system, the Retail Sales Academy.