Retail Sales Onboarding: Best Practices for 2018

by Lauren Godinez

Good retail sales onboarding requires a structured program that engages new hires and efficiently guides them through training. The better the onboarding program, the better the retention of quality employees. The process is crucial to the success of the new recruit and by extension, the success of the store’s bottom line.

Hourly store employees have the highest turnover rate at 65%, according to a recent study by The Hay Group. And a study by the Center for American Progress found that it costs, on average, $3,328 (or 16% of one year’s salary) to find, hire, and train a replacement for one minimum-wage employee. The actual costs are much higher when you account for having to hire replacement employees, onboarding and training costs, the cost of errors and lower productivity during the training period, and the impact on morale and other employees’ productivity.

As an example, MarketSource’s project coordinator, Cynthia Pedersen, shares how we helped a major retailer client perfect the onboarding experience.

Who is your client and what challenges were they facing?

Cynthia: Our client is a Fortune 500 company that needed help with fixing their onboarding program in their retail stores. They were struggling with keeping new hires engaged and moving them through the process efficiently. District managers were the original point people and consistent communication with new hires was a challenge for them to maintain, in addition to all of their other job responsibilities. They were also struggling with turnover and training new hires for success. 

What solution did we bring to the table? 

Cynthia: A district manager had come up with the concept of a new hire specialist a few years ago and we decided to establish and implement that position nationwide. New hires are more energized and absorb more information when they have someone they can consistently connect with during the process. MarketSource already has a great recruiting program that finds people who are the right fit for each sales program, so we just needed to make sure that the onboarding experience was meeting their needs. 

What results are we seeing with the new hire specialists? 

Cynthia: What we implemented has been highly successful and our client has seen their false starts drop in half. Retention is now over 85% and rising.

So how can you build a better retail sales onboarding program for 2018?

Recruit the right people from the start. Recruiters should be using candidate personas that help them identify personalities with higher success rates. For retail sales, you need people who are excited and enthusiastic and have good people skills. We look for people that have previous customer service experience, even in the fast food industry. We also look for people with a tech-savvy background that are comfortable using and talking about electronic products.

Use new hire specialists. They offer an overview of the client’s needs and MarketSource’s sales services. They are devoted to answering all new hire questions and guiding them through the onboarding process. They check in with the new hires and are able to help with troubleshooting logins and online training. They foster a dialog with the new hires and serve as a liaison with the district managers. This helps everyone build confidence going into the training classes and moving on to be successful sales associates.

Build the conversation about expectations. In each region, new hire specialists should be hosting calls to talk about expectations. Typically, it’s 10 to 15 people and it’s a chance to talk about MarketSource’s core values, who the players are, what the expectations are and what are the commitments and behavior expected of them are. They talk about how our sales teams add value for the client and deliver the best experience to customers. The expectation is established that we expect them to go above and beyond for the customers and the client itself.

Host monthly new hire orientations. It’s great that technology allows us to save a lot of time by doing much of the onboarding process online and via calls, but you still need to get people to come train in person. So, once a month it’s important to get everyone together for a live new hire orientation. It should be an extension of the calls and really get deeper into the sales 2.0 process and client expectations and needs. Ours have groups of close to 70 people and we do breakout sessions that help break the ice and bring people together as a sales team. It adds value by making people more confident and it really helps them understand our company’s culture. This part of the onboarding process is key to reducing false starts.

Interested in improving your current onboarding process for next year? Contact MarketSource to find out how we can help.

Topic: Retail


Lauren Godinez is Digital Content and Social Media Specialist - Retail for MarketSource. Her digital outreach campaigns have helped engage consumers and drive thought leadership thru her impactful content strategies. She brings her expertise in digital marketing and B2B writing to MarketSource.

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