Right now I am on the road, doing an in store training for a store located in Tucson, Arizona. Now, we all know we can learn from the internet, my blog, other people's blogs, XBIZ magazines, publications, company training materials (if available) but nothing can beat actual hands-on, one-to-one staff training about sex toys. I see this all the time when I go into a store, rally 'round the sales troops, and go through the products, category by category, sometimes item by item, to teach the sales staff (and oftentimes, store owners and managers) what the products do, how to use them, what makes one product better than another and, if the product warrants discussion, how it may help around medical needs of a customer (menopause, ED, disability issues, etc.).
By having an in store sales training session, the staff can easily ask questions, absorb what they can by taking notes and open their eyes and ears about what all of these products are for. With many stores moving away from heavy DVD sales as more and more people are moving into watching smut on the internet (dang!), the novelty areas are turning into the profit centers of the store, having a crack staff that knows product and how to sell it with personal customer service skills will separate the profit-making stores from the ones that are barely holding on.
The question I usually hear from male sales staff (since it seems to be a gender-based question), is, for example, from a male customer who asks a male clerk "I want to get something for my wife. What do you recommend?" The difference between reading my answer to this question and getting the answer in person with a training in the store, the sales staff can recommend the area of the store that might be appropriate for a first timer with basic toys which can be used internally or externally, giving the consumer the ability to make their own choice while giving them the guidance they need.
Many of the major manufacturers have several sales staff that tour the country to do in store sales training for the staff. These training sessions can be invaluable for your staff and I encourage any store owners out there to get on board with them. Many times the store visit will be based on your sales volume, how active the store is in staying on top of new products and innovations in the industry, and store location. The best way to make these arrangements is to go through your distributor in order to get on the map with the major manufacturers. Several distributors now conduct open houses or warehouse shows where the manufacturers' reps present their products which also present an excellent opportunity to learn although you would have to travel to the show instead of them coming to you.
How about bringing in a consultant to help with your sales and product knowledge? As a freelance adult products trainer, I personally know that this can change the direction of a store, thoroughly train sales staff, bring new enthusiasm to the store and sales staff, work with merchandising and tailoring product to the store's demographics, and more, including quizzes to make sure staff has been absorbing the information being presented. Since I have no direct affiliation with any particular manufacturer or distributor and am innately familiar with the thousands of products available as well as having owned my heavily customer service oriented store, Grand Opening!, in the Boston area for 12 years, I have a knowledge of sales that few people in the adult industry possess. Also in the mix is my experience in training with romance home parties, too, so it's not just limited to stores. I mean, it's really all retail no matter where you make your sales.
If you are interested in hosting a training, please contact me through the comments section of this blog and I'll take it from there (your comments are not publicly posted and go directly to me).
And oh, about the answer for that male customer wanting to get a new item for his wife, the question to ask is "It depends on what she likes" and simply scroll down to my blog of June 22 on "How to Buy a Vibrator..." to get more info on how to sell... at least through my blog.
Okay, now for the JOTB... here's a few one liners that are my favorites...
Q. How do you circumsize a whale?
A. Four skin divers
Q. What's the difference between a used tire and 365 used condoms?
A. A used tire is a Goodyear and 365 used condoms is a GREAT year!
Q. Medical question: Why is sperm white and urine yellow?
A. So a guy can tell whether he's coming or going.
On that note, I have to scamper and do some training for those information hungry sales staff here in the Southwest. See ya on the road!