It was bad enough that two employees were talking on the sales floor while people all around them went unserved, but it was their discussion was what put it over the top.
(I share the story only to illustrate the types of discussions that should not be held on the sales floor.)
The first employee was asking the second one how they had been. The first employee then went on to describe that flu that she had suffered through. She said that several times when she ran to the bathroom she could not decide whether she should bend over or sit down as “it was coming out of both ends!” I expected the other employee to be a bit put off by such a topic on the sales floor within ear shot of customers. Continue reading
I was straightening up my workspace this morning and ran across a sample of a coaching log. The log had been developed by an experienced and talented store manager working for the company I worked at many years.
It was well produced with 50 pages to record when a manager coached and employee. I really liked the playbook and I hope that it improved coaching for the managers and their employees. Perhaps it lead to better sales, improved service or more effective and efficient employees.
This was not the only coaching log that I saw while I working in retail management and training. In fact, I probably saw 50 different versions over the years. But this one was a good one.
The reason why I bring this up is that it has been my experience that there is no correlation between good coaching and the use of a coaching log.
I saw the two of them square off – the salesperson and the customer, the adversary and their opponent. Even though I have seen this subtle encounter many times before, I never pass up a chance to watch. For the Dance was about to begin.
What is the Dance? It is the name that I gave to the movement that salespeople and their customers go through trying to find a comfortable place and distance to interact.
Typically when two people talk, they stand approximately an arms distance away from one another. If they are close friends, they may stand closer. If there is a power differential between them, the person with less power may stand a bit further away. The distance is never discussed by the talkers but rather it is set as the two talkers position themselves.
I stopped in national chain store at the mall the other day, drawn in by the signs in by the many promotional signs in the window.
Standing near the front of the store, an employee was working with a customer as a smiling manager approached. Without so much as an introduction, the manager asked the customer, “Did he mention the sales going on?”
“Not yet,” responded the somewhat bewildered customer.
Turning to the employee, the manager continued, “I can’t believe you haven’t mentioned the promotions even after our huddle this morning. Jesus!”
At this point, I didn’t want to see any more and left the store. I think the customer was thinking the same thing.
Not the poor backpack
There it sat, right in the middle of the aisle, the poor backpack. It had fallen from an overstocked fixture and now it sat in the middle of the main aisle circling the store. I am not sure how long it had been there when I spotted it.
Being small, the pack did not block traffic and was easy enough to walk around or step over. I figured that if it was still on the floor when I got to it, I would put it back on the fixture.
As I stood watching, I noticed two employees walking up the aisle towards the backpack. Ah, I thought, I won’t have to pick up the pack, surely one of these two employees will. I was wrong. In fact, one actually stepped over the pack and continued up the aisle.
The Acme Thunderer -The World’s Finest Whistle
One advantage that athletic coaches have over sales managers is their whistle. When an athletic coach blows the whistle, everything stops and people listen. More than once I longed for my Acme Thunderer to get the attention of one of my employees when they were messing up on the sales floor.
Ongoing coaching is critical for the development of effective and efficient retail sale people. The ability of managers to effectively communicate with their employees about their performance is often the difference between success and failure of both the employee and the store.
With so many retailers feeling the squeeze on payroll, many store employees receive little or no training before they are set free on the sales floor to see to the needs of the customers. With limited training, sales people are left to learn, typically through trial and error , on the floor. With an attentive and observant manager that is willing to coach, the salesperson will develop much quicker.
That is where coaching and SBIA model come in.