Why sellers deserve more recognition

Industry consultant Gordon Hecht asks why there is so little recognition for the hard-working, multi-talented retail salespeople in the furniture industry …

Pick any day on the calendar and you’ll likely find that it’s dedicated to an event or cause. These National Days celebrate everything from pizza to “talk like a pirate” to ice cream. Some of these days spill over into the workplace as well – in the United States we have National Bosses Day and National Administrative Assistant Day.

I’m not sure if there is a day to recognize the service of our frontline sales teams, but there should be. We need a National Commissioned Sellers Day.

Having invested much of the early days of my career as a commission salesperson, I can understand the many tasks retail salespeople (RSA) must master to walk the tightrope of performance-based compensation – often without safety net below.

Great commissioned salespeople provide a good or excellent customer experience because their pay depends on it. For them, it’s about taking care of your customers and you will eat steak. Fail and you will eat beans. We could probably solve a lot of the world’s problems if we put our governments on commission!

Last century (OK, 25 years ago) I took my kid to my store on National Take Your Kid to Work Day. He lived through my entire 12-and-a-half-hour retail day – store hours of 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., which started an hour before I unlocked the doors and 30 minutes after the last customer left. building.

His eyes could see all the jobs a retailer has to do. After the day’s work he commented, “Wow, I thought all you did was sit down and drink coffee all day.” (This is not true, sometimes we drink tea.)

Of course, RSAs are supposed to welcome buyers and convert them into buying customers. But here are some of the roles of the retail salesperson not mentioned in the job description …

Goods locator

Showing and selling is hard enough. During and after the sale, a good RSA must also be an expert in inventory control! They need to know what’s in stock, what’s on the road, and sometimes help move goods from customers wanting delayed delivery to other customers in need of immediate gratification. Most RSAs are paid on sales delivered, and they want the goods to be delivered as soon as possible.

Credit counselor

Consumer finance has long played a role in retailing. Today, it’s everything from credit and debit cards to promotional terms, second-tier credit, no-credit leasing, and borrowing from relatives. RSAs need to know when to start the credit check process, how to introduce alternative financing, and how to create sales tickets with free promotional terms.

Some retailers pay their RSA based on the financial discount rate, which means sales written with 60-month terms pay less commission than sales with 12-month terms. The best RSAs know how to downgrade and upgrade terms to make the most sense for their client.

Customer service attaché

Whether your organization has five members or 5,000, when there is a problem with an order, the first point of contact is the salesperson. After all, it was the guy or the girl who sold them the thing! RSAs must juggle precious selling time with problem-solving time. Often times, issues that arise are beyond RSA’s control, and they are still a way to resolve the issues while still saving the sale. RSAs should not only be able to sell goods, they should also be able to sell solutions to problems.


You don’t have to be crazy to work in sales, but it helps! Every customer who walks into your store carries a complete set of Louis Vuitton luggage with quirks, flaws, and personality dysfunctions. RSAs operate through self-imposed limits and buyers’ blocks. They solve the problems of 45-year-olds who still need their mother’s approval to buy something, from a doctor’s imaginary recommendations on comfort levels, to helping buyers who haven’t bought since. Madonna’s latest record to adapt to sticker shock. Even if your store doesn’t sell upholstery, your RSAs still offer free down time.

IT department specialist

When I first started selling, point-of-sale systems included a four-part carbon paper purchase order and a 19-cent Bic pen. We wrote the sales by hand and counted the cash or stamped the check. Even if you still write sales slips, there’s a good chance your salespeople will type them into some sort of computer, or the RSA will type in a credit request or use a bank card terminal. Some RSAs save their guest log in a terminal. Others do all of the above.

The electronic processing of sales is excellent. You couldn’t build your empire without them. But BTW, those same systems are breaking! In almost every RSA team, there is a special salesperson who knows how to get things back online or who knows a better workaround. They fix the system for themselves or someone else to quickly process an order.

Housekeeping service

When I was a knee-deep shoot and left a mess in the house, my mom would remind me that “it’s the maid’s day off.” Most of the stores I visit these days do not have housekeeping services. Buyers didn’t get this news and still leave messy posters, not to mention coffee mugs, gum wrappers and other wreckage on floors, tables and other merchandise samples. This piles up another duty on the sales team. It is up to them to clean and straighten the showroom to restore it A1.

We’ll never see everything RSAs do in a job description, and we’re unlikely to ever celebrate National Commissioned Sellers Day. That doesn’t stop you from honoring the efforts of your sales team today. You can never tell someone that they are doing a good job too often.

And while you clap, remember that your factory reps, advertising salespeople, and most outside vendors are your own personal psychologists, cleaning crew, merchandise locators, credit counselors, and IT people, putting in the effort. extra to keep your business relevant and successful.

Gordon Hecht is a business growth and development consultant for the retail home furnishings industry. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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