5 qualities the best people in retail tend to have

5 qualities the best people in retail tend to have
Salena Knight
Written by Salena Knight

When most employers are looking to hire, a proven track record is the first thing on a resume. How much experience has this person had working in a retail store?

In my retail stores, my staff LOVED coming to work. They cried when they had to leave (and they only left due to babies or moving away from the area). What would you think if I told you the best retail sales people often have no experience at all, and THEY are the ones you should be hiring?

I’ve never been one to think inside the box, so let me enlighten you on why the most experienced people aren’t always the best on your shop floor (or your business).

In my many years of hiring people, I’ve come to discover there are 5 inherent qualities that make for a fantastic retail sales person …

  1. They need to be “coachable”

I honestly believe that you can teach skills to just about anyone. The difference between how well and how quickly they can pick those skills up is their level of “coachability”. People who are eager to learn new skills will go out of their way to accept new challenges, are willing to try new things, open to feedback and don’t use excuses (or blame others) when things to do according to plan.

  1. They don’t come with pre-conceived ideas

One of the benefits of hiring from outside the industry is that potential team members, don’t bring their bad habits to your store. They haven’t been pre-programmed with the short cuts they’ve learnt over the years of working the shop floor. As a bonus, you’ll have to opportunity to get unbiased, un-learned input on the way your store runs and the products you stock. A fresh set of eyes is always a good thing for business!

  1. They listen

The best sales people aren’t the loud, brash and in your face. They’re the people who listen to the customer and are able to work out what a customer needs, rather than what they tell you they want. Actively listening to what a customer says, and being able to guide them to the correct purchase, is the pinnacle of retail sales success.

  1. They always have a hidden super-power

Everyone has an innate super power. If you ask them this question, often they don’t even know they have one, or if they do, they don’t know how it will translate into the retail sector. As an employer, it’s your job to give your team a level of autonomy, so that both you and your staff get a chance to unearth their hidden talents. You’d be surprised at what turns up – I once met and lovely man whose super power was the ability to shrink-wrap pallets like a fine artist, in seconds. Not a skill that would make super hero status, but one that was amazingly handy and reduced breakages in transit, saving the company a lot of money.

  1. They will celebrate when they have truly helped a customer

Probably the most heart-warming part of owning your own store, is knowing that you’ve helped your customer. You’ve solved their problem, or you’ve made them look or feel great.

Not every sales person basks in the warm inner glow that comes with truly helping. But those that do make a great addition to your sales team and your store in general.

If you can take the leap and look outside of the experience retail employee box, what characteristics should you be on the lookout for?

Patience, honesty, effervescence and how well they communicate, in addition to the qualities listed above, are a solid foundation to set your hiring process upon.

Maybe that person is experienced working on the shop floor, but there’s also a chance that the best person for YOUR team, has never worked in a shop.

The next time you’re looking to expand your team, my experience says that when you focus one qualities, rather than experience, you’re much more likely to find that elusive ‘perfect’ person.

Hear Salena Knight speak on ‘The Business of Christmas’ on 24 September as part of Retail Therapy, the dedicated education series that will run throughout The Retail Quarter Sydney. Tickets are $30 – find out more and book your place here!

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About the author
Salena Knight
Salena Knight