How to Get Retail Staff Excited About Product Training

How to Get Retail Staff Excited About Product Training

The end of the month is near and that dreaded situation arises: Sales are low and the business may miss its targets. The team is under increasing pressure and staff members are putting in the hours — but the desired results just aren’t there. Where is it all going wrong?

Many variables can affect retail sales, some of which are outside the control of any business. But imagine that the economy is healthy and an adult goods retailer is selling popular items at competitive prices. The in-store displays are visually striking and plenty of stock is on hand. Yet, most potential customers leave empty-handed. Could staff sales skills be an issue?

Training should not be a one-time affair. Even the most experienced staff will want to refresh their product knowledge at some point.

Among the critical skills that sales people need are product knowledge and the ability to apply it. Having a thorough understanding of products can turn staff into experts and advocates for a brand. When salespeople can explain how a product’s features will benefit someone and answer questions about it, they can leave customers thinking, “I need this now!” In other words, staff need to understand what they are selling and why.

Is training worth the costs?

If training staff on product knowledge is so important, why doesn’t it always receive the attention it deserves? One reason is that the benefits may not always justify the costs, especially if staff turnover is high. However, for every dollar saved by skimping on training, many more can be lost because customers can’t find knowledgeable staff to help them make a purchase. When businesses do invest in staff product knowledge training, the results are telling.

Consider the findings of a study published in the Harvard Business Review a few years ago. In the study, a department store gave its retail staff access to voluntary, online, self-guided training on the features of each brand’s products. Participants received commissions, which provided an incentive to learn how to sell more, and brands that developed the training gave them product discounts based on how many modules they completed. Results showed that for every training module staff members completed, their sales rate increased by 1.8% on average. Training was voluntary, so not everyone did it. For staff who participated, the average hourly sales rate was a huge 46% higher than that of employees who refrained. Yes, those staff members were also selling more to begin with, but this accounted for only about half the difference; the training explained the rest.

How to make training effective

You’ve read the case for staff product knowledge training, but not just any type will do. To get staff excited about training, it should be engaging, relevant and practical. So, here are five tips for effective training.

1. Provide clarity

Start with an outline of the training outcomes, skills and knowledge covered, and the tasks involved, including any assessments. Then, organize the content into clear and concise chunks so it’s easier to understand and less likely to overwhelm. This can involve dividing the content into sections with basic headings and using short paragraphs that focus on must-know information. Bulleted lists that summarize key messages and simple tables or charts that allow for easy comparisons can also be helpful. Strategies like these can prevent information overload and enable staff to quickly scan and refer to the content later.

2. Design for variety

Just as variety makes for an exciting adult toy collection, the same can be said of product knowledge training. Working through text-heavy training content, no matter how useful, can get boring. Where possible, design content with opportunities for learning by seeing, hearing or touching and doing. Include video demonstrations of products, infographics that simplify information or express statistics, and images that command attention. Design training to be an active rather than passive experience with product testers to try, role-plays to perform — even if staff do so alone — and discussion points to explore. Incorporating varied formats is not only more interesting, but also more likely to suit a team with different learning styles.

3. Provide rewards

Make training compulsory and attendance will be up, but engagement may be down. On the other hand, the risk of voluntary training is that not everyone may see it through. Then, there’s the issue of whether it’s undertaken during work hours or personal time, in which case staff may expect to be compensated. Whatever the scenario, rewards for successful completion may help, like the product discounts staff received in the department store study.

Another strategy: Offer prizes to staff who score highest in training-related assessments. Then, to encourage staff to keep applying their learnings, why not consider a sales performance incentive program, for which only those who complete and pass the training are eligible? Sometimes there’s nothing like healthy competition and rewards to make staff interested in elevating their game.

4. Team up with allies

It’s cliche, but often true: Teamwork makes the dream work. For businesses that train staff about branded products, the brands can become their greatest allies. Brands want their product features and benefits accurately explained to customers and that requires knowledgeable sales people. So make the most of brands that offer to help develop, run and otherwise support staff product knowledge training — it’s a win for the brand, for customers and for your business.

5. End with a cheat sheet

Training should not be a one-time affair. Even the most experienced staff will want to refresh their product knowledge at some point. Make it easy for them by ending training with a digital and/or hard copy “cheat sheet” that summarizes key points and gives the answers to frequently asked questions.

Include sources of support too, so sales staff know where and how to access help when needed. Measure the results and make improvements. Once training is over, allow a period of time before using appropriate metrics to determine its effects on variables of interest to the business. While the number of participants may be flattering, it can also mislead. The objective knowledge staff obtained can be measured with assessments — but did it make a positive difference in their sales rates? If not, why? If the training was successful, which elements can be retained or changed to make it even more so next time?

In conclusion, investing in comprehensive retail staff training is essential for the success of any retail business. Empowering employees with the right skills, knowledge and confidence enables them to provide exceptional customer service and contribute to a positive shopping experience. Well-trained staff not only enhance customer satisfaction, but also help to foster a thriving work environment, ultimately leading to long-term growth and profitability for your business.

Vanessa Rose is a certified clinical sexuality coach and the account manager for Australia and New Zealand at Svakom.


Copyright © 2024 Adnet Media. All Rights Reserved. XBIZ is a trademark of Adnet Media.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.

More Articles


Is Generative AI Helping or Hurting the Pleasure Biz?

In her TED Talk “What Will Happen to Marketing in the Age of AI?,” Jessica Apotheker of Boston Consulting Group explains a study conducted by her firm and Harvard University, which revealed that “when people overrely on generative AI, the collective divergence of ideas drops by 40%.”

Casey Murphy ·

A Look at Three POS Scenarios Reflecting Three Stages of Retail Growth

Leading a small-to-midsize adult retail business is exhilarating, yet daunting. Among the gazillion decisions you have to make, choosing the right point-of-sale (POS) system is one of the biggies. Whether you’re just setting up shop or expanding your store footprint, your POS system is the functional backbone of your operations.

Sean Quinn ·

WIA Profile: Blanca Estrada-Gonzalez

Blanca Estrada-Gonzalez will be the first to tell you that she “drops panties for a living,” and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Though Magic Silk’s star saleswoman once aspired to become a medical doctor, the universe had other plans — and those plans involved jock straps, lacy undies and see-through bedroom wear for all.

Women In Adult ·

N69 Founder Kamila Hrecka Brings Sex Ed, Products to the Polish Market

Come for the Catholic cathedrals, stay for the world-class pleasure expertise! While that may not be an official slogan, there is no denying that modern retail boutique N69 is adding a touch of intimate class to the Polish adult products market.

Colleen Godin ·

Canadian Sexual Wellness Brands Nobü, BodiSpa Reveal Goals for Growth

Today’s most beloved pleasure products often blend the adult and mainstream worlds, marketing their sensual designs in boxes that won’t deter vanilla shoppers — or mainstream retail buyers. Canadian sister brands BodiSpa and Nobü aim to embody this vision, bringing adult fantasies to even the shyest of consumers.

Colleen Godin ·

How Gen Z Is Reshaping Pleasure Product Marketing

Gen Z is breaking the customer funnel, and it’s exactly what we need. In the past, figuring out customers’ purchasing habits, both in-store and digital, was relatively straightforward. But Gen Z’s priorities are completely different from those of their predecessors, and so are their shopping habits.

Naima Karp ·

A Look at the Serious Business of Novelties in Retail

Adult retailers put a lot of thought into the products they carry. They want to offer customers high-quality sex toys with the latest technology and features, plus a robust selection of condoms and lubricants — all at competitive prices.

Rebecca Weinberg ·

Retailer Online Engagement Strategies for Pride Month

Pride month is more than a celebration; it is a platform for advocacy, inclusivity and community empowerment. As we celebrate Pride month in June, therefore, it is essential for the pleasure industry to engage with the queer community by embracing thoughtful digital marketing initiatives that resonate with LGBTQ+ audiences.

Verna Meng ·

A Deep Dive Into 'Shallowing' Sex Toys

The term “Shallowing” refers to engaging only in shallow penetration of the vagina, and/or stimulating the vaginal opening and the few centimeters inside of it, rather than deeper penetration and trying to stimulate the G-spot or A-spot.

Carly S. ·

Which Tech Should Retail Businesses Consider Outsourcing?

Since technology is the backbone of almost any retail business nowadays, one of the biggest challenges adult retailers encounter is making sure they have the right technology stack and staff needed to support growth.

Sean Quinn ·
Show More