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Babysitter or Salesperson: Are You Investing In Your People?


Written for The Nova Scotia Business Journal

As an owner of retail stores in the past, I have hired many full and part-time salespeople. My idea of training went like this: I’d take them on a tour of the store, show them the popular items, encourage them to read about products, explain and nurture them through the p.o.s. and computerized inventory system, and discuss how to handle shoplifters. There seemed to be little time to talk about their approach to customers and what was expected in terms of selling style or how to handle difficult people. Because I knew how to do all those things, I presumed that everyone knew how to do them.

What I discovered was this. If your staff can’t do those last things, you only have a babysitter for your store. You have someone who can take people’s money and you can hope they smile and nod, but you don’t have salespeople. After writing the Sandler Customer Care program for business-to-business and watching it go worldwide, I began to think about retail. People had warned me: retailers won’t train their people; their people don’t stay long enough to get a return on the investment! It made me wonder: Did they leave because they weren’t in an environment where they were valued enough to be invested in?

Investing in retail salespeople is an investment in customer loyalty. The bigger chain stores are beginning to understand that rather than simply having people on the floor, well-trained people are a much better return on their investment. Having their salespeople sharpen their communication skills, hone their listening and questioning acumen and give them a sales process pays off in returned customer loyalty, higher average sale and increased word-of-mouth referral business.

Sandler’s Retail Customer Care program, created right here in Nova Scotia, is about to be released to over 200 training centres across North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Central and South America. This program will be available to all retailers, mid-sized and large chains alike. Our aim is to do what the business-to-business Strategic Customer Care program did –– to raise the level of professionalism in customer care and create better places to do business, and work.

The query of “What do I do if I train people and they leave?”, can be countered with, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?”

©2012 Sandler Training Inc. ( is an international sales and management training/consulting firm. For a free copy of Why Salespeople Fail And What To Do About It, call Sandler Training at 902-468-0787 or email

Eric Fry

Sandler trainer