Our economy is shifting from a manufacturing based one to a services based one, and that means those who understand customer service models are bound to be more successful than those who don’t.
While there’s a lot of evidence that people do enjoy shopping online for “mindless” items (items they purchase with a regular cadence, where they have a provider they’re happy with,) when it comes to buying items that count for customers or the person they’re buying an item for, shopping in-store with a sales associate is still the preferred method according to the Harvard Business Review.
However, your company is only as good as the staff you have maintaining the store on a day-to-day basis. Running a retail operation with the belief workers are replaceable and not skilled is a huge mistake in this new environment. Educating and empowering staff goes a long way. Attracting retail staff that’s motivated, engaged and a cut above is actually much more important.
Enter the Retailpreneur.
Retailpreneurs are sales staff in a retail environment that are engaged in their roles where they see themselves as ambassadors of the brand, and that they’re not there just to service clients as they enter the store, but to actually seek out, handle and close “whales” (clients that account for a larger percentage of the bottom line) or increase the sales cadence of their existing clients.
How do you find Retailpreneurs?
Because retailpreneurs go above and beyond, you will have to go above and beyond as well to find them and win them over. Here are some tips to do just that.
#1. Offer Entrepreneurial Incentives
They are called retailpreneurs for a reason, they thrive off of a challenge and want to be in control of their income and future earning potential. If you are going to attract and retain this highly motivated associate, you need to offer them a chance to go above and beyond in their role.
This type of offering would include things like commissions, milestone bonuses, tools to use to build client rosters and sell outside of regular store shifts, resources to amplify their own marketing efforts, and programs that reward taking initiative.
#2. Give Them the Tools and Technology to Grow
As a sneak peak to the release of our latest study, 66 percent of sales associates say new technology and tools is a must-have at their future retail employer. Not only that, but 80 percent more likely to stay at their retailer if they provide new tools and technology that enhance their job.
It’s one thing to offer incentives and encourage retailpreneurialism, it’s a whole other thing to enable it through technology. With more and more opportunities for sales associates today to create residual income through online tools, it’s better to create these opportunities rather than compete with them.
#3. Make Your Job Description Stand Out…in a good way
When you look at most job ads for retail, you’ll notice they are all identical except for the store name. Separate yourself from the crowd by looking outside the industry for tips. You don’t have to make it flowery or use too much fancy jargon. Look at websites for start ups and Kickstarters for the kind of language that incites people to want to join a cause. Make a special section on your website that’s not called “jobs” at all, but rather reflects “sharing our values” or “joining us.” Steer clear of the played out “join our team!” jargon you see on every company website.
#4. Recruit on Social Media
It’s true that you can find just about anything on social media now, and Retailpreneurs are no exception. It may seem strange to find your next great salesperson on Instagram, but you need to seek out where your ideal candidates already are. You can advertise on your social media channels by showing off your brand values and what it’s like to work for you to entice fans and followers to get in touch or share these posts with their own audiences. Studies show many candidates check the social media presence of companies and make decisions based on it.
#5. Be Open, Authentic and Bear Your Soul
If you want to find the best, you have to sell your company as well as you need to sell your product, so look at “what’s in it” for the sales associate. If you have schedules that work with associates, make sure you declare it. Have a great company discount? Let them know upfront. Consider ways to lower barriers to employment for your potential sales people, and make good on them. Look to start ups and ad agencies for small ways to make employees feel wanted and cared for.
#6. Have A Secret Sale…For Your Brand
If you’re still looking for people that you haven’t found yet, it’s time to look at creative ways to get them in the room. Scout out people online, through email lists, or even existing, trusted customers and contact them to let them know about your event at your store. Throw a party in the store and make sure you have signage and information available (and even ways to apply or connect to recruiters right in the store) to capture the right kind of motivated engaged people who already like your brand. Find ways to get them to opt in for follow ups after the event, and keep in touch. You never know who knows who and that person might be one degree away from you.
#7. Ask Their Advice In the Interview
To judge whether someone is thinking like an entrepreneur, ask them to make suggestions for what you could be doing better in your store. People who are willing to share these tips with you in a constructive way are the exact type you should hire. This is a tried and true method start-ups use to weed out “lifers” from the passers by.
It’s not enough to attend job fairs or put a sign up at the point of sale in your store anymore. To find really great sales associates, you have to think strategically about how and where people with an entrepreneurial mindset live. Once you’ve found them, judge them on their initiative and reap the rewards in screamed sales numbers and customer satisfaction.