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The importance of retail sales training: New ideas to keep training during COVID-19

Whether you are a small brand looking to distribute through wholesalers and distributors or an established brand developing your own brand retail network, retail sales training has always been one of the spearheads of sales development.

👉 Do you ever wonder what types of sales opportunities your sales team may be missing?

👉 Do your retail sales associates struggle to reach their objectives?

👉 Do you have inconsistent results from a retailer to another?

If your answer to at least one of these questions is “yes”, you might want to consider introducing retail sales training to your sales staff.

Sales associates have always needed support, but in the challenging COVID-19 era, they need it more than ever.

Today we are offering you a short review of current retail sales training techniques and a panorama of creative ideas on how to train and motivate your sales teams remotely.

The true purpose of retail sales training

Every retailer needs more shoppers, but the real challenge remains how to convert them into actual customers. If properly prepared and delivered, retail sales training will not only teach the sales staff how to engage a shopper but also show thehow to build rapport and trust, showcase a product and demonstrate its features and (more importantly) its benefits, contrast and compare products, overcome objections and close each and every sale.

Unfortunately, a retail salesperson cannot predict the needs, wants and desires of a potential customer when they enter the boutique. That is why retail sales training is so important as it provides tools and techniques to learn how to close a sale in a pleasant yet engaging way.

There are three main types of retail sales training programs that a brand or retailer can focus on for best results. 

# 1 : The baseline or introduction/induction training that we would advise retailers to offer any of its staff members. 

It streamlines the operational knowledge of sales associates about all the following basic tasks: how to open and close a register, ring up a sale, ship, stock shelves, collect web orders, use mobile POS on tablets. In this case, we really recommend assembling a SOP book – i.e Standard Operating Procedures – which will prove crucial for a successful sales staff induction.

# 2 : Product knowledge retail sales training is the second most important preparation you can offer your sales staff.  

Sharing the story of the collection and product with the sales staff is even more important to brand owners who do not control their retail facilities and must rely on third parties to resell their products. 

A specialized in-depth training will allow sales associates to understand a product’s creation process. It will give them details about the raw material selection and design along with the various brand stories that can be shared. 

We invite you to read our article “How to create a unique value proposition for your business” for an introduction to brand storytelling

This knowledge will bring sales staff closer to both the brand and product as well as give them confidence to share their brand expertise with shoppers. This specialized training should also include the knowledge about the target customer (buyer persona), its end use and competing products in the marketplace. It is so important to transmit this knowledge so they can feel comfortable with your items and brand. If a sales associate is not at ease with a specificity of your product or brand, he/she will fear facing a potential client’s tricky question and not “closing the sale”. 

We would strongly recommend, especially if you are an up-and-coming developing brand, to dispense these training sessions yourself (as the designer or owner of the brand) whenever it is physically possible or by someone strongly and intricately linked with the brand. It is a way of revealing part of the mystery and helps to build strong relationships with store staff (of firsthand experience)

There is nothing more compelling for sales staff than a designer sharing the product information. 

# 3 : The behavioral retail sales training is the most important and the most universal of all three.

It focuses on the soft skills of how to engage a stranger, greet a customer, make a customer feel welcome and at ease and seamlessly transform a shopper into a buying (and loyal) customer. 

After all, all of the product knowledge in the world coupled with the most cutting-edge payment technology is useless if your sales associates do not know how to engage a customer.  

If left untrained, there is a risk that sales staff will not do much more than pointing to where something is located, reading the features off the box to the shopper and standing behind the counter waiting for the next request.

Therefore, a complete behavioral retail sales training should include 5 customerengaging steps: 

  • Techniques to greet a shopper and make him/her feel welcome and at ease in your brand universe.
  • Finding a engaging point within (even the shortest) “Window of Contact”
  • Learning how to ask open questions to encourage customers to share their needs, desires and wants. 
  • Techniques on how to up-sell (encouraging them to add on services or purchase a more expensive model) or cross-sell (complementing the purchases they’ve already made with an additional product) – and to master those techniques, in depth product knowledge (discussed in #2) comes particularly useful! 
  • Seamlessly close the sale and provide customers with a lasting impression of excellence and reliability.

Well-designed and delivered sales training program results in the increase of conversion rate and UPT (units per transaction) and remains one of the most efficient sustainable marketing program retailers have at their disposition. 

Indeed, there is little doubt about the importance of retail sales trainings

Before the pandemic struck, trainings were used by management to create team engagement as well as by brands to create bonds with their stockists. But with a year of COVID-19 behind us and a shopping experience negatively affected by remote practices, the training formats needed to be reinvented. 

Below you will find a few examples of compelling and engaging training formats that have proven their efficiency under COVID 19 restrictions. 


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A short guide to remote solutions and easy to share retail sales training formats

SHORT VIDEO training 

Short video training consists of putting together a series of short video micro-learning topics – that we can call “Flash training” that can be easily shared via messaging apps or Social Media groups. 

These short (up till 10 minutes) formats tend to be the most effective if the content is focused on one task or one topic/theme. They can be easily made with a smartphone and easily viewed or uploaded on a mobile device. 

The video format tends to be quite compelling, especially if the person delivering the information is the brand owner or designer (or a fellow member of staff performing a specific task that requires an explanation). 

The short videos are perfect for weekly updates or for short product presentations. They are simple to implement and share. Moreover, their preparation is hardly timeconsuming. They can thus be used at frequent intervals. 

If you strongly dislike the VIDEO format, you may consider replacing it with short pre-registered podcasts.

Scenario-based retail sales training 

Longer video formats (up till 1 hour) are suitable for treating more complex subjects, for example, beginning of the season collection presentations or to run a full-fledged behavioral retail sales training.  

The longer formats, in order to be fully understood and to avoid losing the audience’s attention, need to be divided into several thematic sections or include interventions by several different speakers. Even the simplest scenario, can help to stage a compelling explanation or turn a product knowledge checking quizz into a team challenge. 

These longer formats tend to replace physical training and are often viewed by both the team and manager, thus adding questions or other interactive solutions makes them livelier. 


Our favorite and simplest format. Zoom, Google Meet or Skype, allow the brand to easily organize online meetings.

Presentations, team meetings, purchasing sessions, daily update meetings, motivation seminars, product knowledge quizzes can all be easily scheduled and organized. 

The big advantage of webinars is the voice and video combination which allows the presence of multiple speakers and group participation. 

The most effective webinars need to be timed, follow an established agenda which is disclosed to all participants and be driven by key speakers

To summarize:

Whether you are launching your brand, increasing the retail network of your established brand or owning a multi-brand concept store, retail sales training will help you deliver a better and more personalized customer service experience over online retailers. 

Although today’s consumers appreciate the efficiency and convenience of online marketplaces, they also value the in-store experience of working with knowledgeable and passionate retail sales associates. 

Modern technologies allow great flexibility and creativity and even if you are not particularly tech-savvy, with a few simple solutions and apps, you will be able to keep in touch with your employees and maintain or even multiply opportunities to train staff members.

Céline Gainsburg-Rey


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