A retail store representative is the face of your business for all intents and purposes. A warm, communicative representative who knows when a customer needs help can brighten up the experience, while a clueless person who cannot offer more than a template response can prevent a prospective customer from every walking into your store.
Hiring is fraught with pitfalls, primarily because every candidate only puts their best foot forward during the interview process. In a customer-facing role such as a store representative, the knowledge that you’ve hired the wrong person may only come to light after you receive complaints from a customer, by when it could be too late.
So what should you look for in a candidate to ensure you’re hiring the right person? How can you keep them motivated to work with you?
Know What You Want
A store representative is, after all, a salesperson, so you may be tempted to come up with a vague job description and try to see how many prospective candidates fit into it. A far better approach to hiring is to make a note of your requirements first. Forget the job, if you were a customer in your store, what would you expect from a store representative?
For someone stepping into a megastore, the main issue is with figuring out what item is located where, so a representative with thorough knowledge of products and their store location will be able to serve the customer properly. Likewise, in boutique stores, a representative is expected to have a deeper understanding of each of the products. For example, what benefits does a certain night cream offer? What sets this product apart from others in the market? These are all questions a store rep must be able to answer convincingly.
Go Looking In The Right Places
Social media has made looking for candidates through job portals nearly redundant, especially for roles such as store representatives. A better gauge of a person can be obtained from their social media profiles. When you go hiring, post on a few social media sites and groups about your requirement. See what responses appeal to you. On social media, there’s no hiding behind a cover letter or a CV- the very first message or comment alone can tell you a great deal about a prospective candidate.
While you’re at it, remember not to use social media to deny someone opportunities because of their personal preferences. By all means, judge if they’re a good fit to the company, but don’t judge people for being different from you.
What Kind Of A Person Do You Want?
This is extremely important- during most hiring processes, we tend to look at a candidate’s skill alone and ignore their personality traits. However, these traits will come to the fore in no time at all, and a customer can see right through them. A cheerful store representative who is easily approachable always makes for a good salesperson. Likewise, being able to handle the stress of being on their feet, and on the job, the whole time is a commendable trait.
One other thing that consumers all over the world probably wish to tell store reps is to leave the alone sometimes! Having someone hovering over you all the time can feel like they don’t trust you not to steal, or to make good choices. A store representative must be available, but that doesn’t mean they have to shove their presence in the customer’s face!
The Right Interview Process
Make the interview process as close to real life as possible. Ask a few tricky questions. Behave like a stressed-out customer and see how the candidate reacts. Admirable traits are all good, but they may not help you all the time- people who love proving their point no matter what, often make for bad listeners and bad store representatives.
If you’re looking for more insights, ask behavior questions. What is a consumer experience that remains with them? Was there a time when there was a crisis situation in their store? How did they handle that situation? Keeping the questions as open-ended as possible will give you that much of a deeper insight into their thought process.
Talk About Your Store
The surest way to gauge someone’s interest is by studying their non-verbal clues during the interview. How does the candidate respond when you tell them about your store? Are they excited about selling your product? Do they believe that your product has value, that it is worth selling?
Perhaps they’re nodding vigorously in response, but something like a restless foot or a relaxed stance gives away someone who is not very interested. Look at the general profile to get a feel of what the candidate thinks of the opportunity.
What Can You Offer?
Every professional relationship is a give-and-take. By this, we don’t mean money alone. Meaningful work is a much better reason for employees to stay with you than financial incentives. Some employees appreciate opportunities you provide in helping them upgrade their skills.
Instead of thinking of sales training and customer behavior sessions as a waste of time and money, invest in your employees. When a prospective candidate hears from peers about how great a place you are to work at, they’ll be that much more eager to do well with you, both in the interview and after.
Do remember that replacing people is a costly affair. It takes up more time and money than you probably have. Once you manage to hire a good retail store rep, do whatever you can to make them stay- a productive work environment, respect for the individual and a great team are just some of the many things that make people love a workplace.
When your retail store representatives are happy, the pass on the infectious happiness to your customer. This in turn means more happy customers who’ll keep coming back to you. Hire your store representatives wisely and never let the good ones go.