18 Retail Skills Sales Associates Must Have

When it comes to retail, your sales associates are more than just the face of the company. They’re responsible for closing deals and driving profit. They also build valuable relationships with customers. Hence, hiring sales associates with the appropriate retail skills is essential.

Training can get inexperienced staff up to speed, but it’s also worth considering which traits and skills are most relevant when hiring your team for them to be successful.

In this post, we will be examining 18 retail skills that are necessary for any sales associate to excel.

Soft Skills Retail Sales Associates Should Possess 

When hiring for sales positions, many managers underestimate the importance of soft skills. These are essential qualities that cannot be taught and only learn on-the-job or through experience.

There are ten soft critical skills to look for when hiring a sales associate. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

1. Helpful

There are a lot of retail skills that go into being a good sales associate, but helpfulness is one thing they all have in common. The most successful people will always be the ones who want to help customers and answer any questions.

The best sales associates are always courteous and follow up with customers if they need anything else. If you do not, your store will likely get negative reviews. Click To Tweet

2. Empathic 

A sales associate’s primary responsibility is to read the customer. They have to understand their emotions and need to figure out how they can motivate that person.

Sales associates must quickly identify and relate to a customer’s emotions when it comes to emotional intelligence. This is because if they can’t empathize or sympathize enough for the client to feel like their needs are being met, then there will always be lost opportunities that could have been converted into closed deals

Let’s use a jewelry sales associate as an example. If a customer looked overwhelmed with excitement or anxious about an expensive purchase, they would be able to offer them solutions they might not have known they were looking for.

3. Patient 

Sales associates need to be patient and know that they will have to repeat themselves dozens of times per day. They also must deal with rude customers, technology issues, and people who take an eternity trying to decide what product is best for them.

For those who want to be a good salesperson, remember that patience is one of the essential retail skills.

4. Friendly 

Customers have a sixth sense for knowing if the sales associate is friendly. If they aren’t, customers will be uncomfortable and not want to buy anything.

When hiring for a sales position, look out for candidates who describe their favorite part of the job as working with customers.

5. Fast learner 

Sales associates should learn quickly about new products and policies to be successful. They also can keep up with the latest technology.

Product knowledge is constantly changing, and if you don’t have the time to keep up with what’s new in your industry, it can be challenging for customers to feel confident buying from you.

retail skills

6. Multitasking 

Sales can be a chaotic job role. Your sales associate needs to listen and respond accordingly, keep up with new customers entering the store while knowing when it’s time for them to push for that sale.

Those who can multitask and handle a fast-paced environment will be the most successful in this role, as they’ll have no problem keeping up with it.

7. Time management 

One of the most important things for a sales associate is time management. They need to be on the floor with customers, but they also have many other tasks that are just as crucial.

If you have a sales associate who does not follow up with vendors to ensure that special orders are possible, the customer will be angry, and you’ll lose out on potential revenue. The best way to avoid this is by making sure your team members know their priorities.

8. Persuasive 

Being persuasive is a skill that your associates need to succeed when it comes to retail sales.

Persuasive salespeople are not trying to convince customers of things they don’t need. Instead, persuasive salespeople should explain why the customer needs a product in their life.

To be a persuasive salesperson, you need to have the ability to understand what your customer needs and is willing to pay for. It would help if you also had enough charisma that they would buy from you rather than someone else.

9. Resilient 

As a salesperson, you have to be resilient. You might know the perfect pitch for the standard client but need to adjust your approach when someone comes in who is different from what you are used to.

When you first start, your team will need to adjust regularly. They’ll have new store policies and products and the knowledge of the industry that they didn’t know before.

10. Adaptable

If your sales team members cannot adapt, they might have difficulty with the challenges that arise.

Sales associates need to be adaptable because they will regularly work with diverse audiences with different expectations, motivations, and pain points. If the sales associate can’t adjust themselves accordingly for selling or customer service, they’ll struggle.

Hard Skills Retail Sales Associates Should Possess

While soft retail skills can be challenging, hard skills can be taught to sales associates or developed through training.

retail skills

11. Basic math and money handling skills 

This is one of the essential retail skills every sales associate must-have.

Your sales team needs to do math in their head and use a calculator on the spot. You never want customers getting surprises at checkout, so it’s best if they know exactly what they’re paying for.

Hiring salespeople is not just about making sure they are confident in their work at the cash register. They also need to know how to spot counterfeit money.

12. Product knowledge 

You don’t always need a specialist to hire. That doesn’t mean you can’t teach your staff about the products they are selling.

Your team should make strong product recommendations based on customers’ needs and price points. They should know what you have in store, how it is different from other products, and why your customers might want it.

13. Active listening 

Active listening is a type of active participation in the conversation and not just hearing what’s being said. When you listen to your customer, if they’re frowning or hesitating before responding with “it’s fine,” then it probably isn’t.

Active listening is one of the best retail skills you can learn because it allows you to focus on customer needs and how they are feeling. This helps you find solutions to problems, making customers feel more at ease.

14. Industry expertise 

Industry expertise is one of those skills that can be taught, but it’s more challenging than other things. A background in your field makes for a better salesperson.

If you are trying to train an associate at your bridal boutique, they will need more than just the basics of how dresses work. Click To Tweet

They also need to know what fabrics flatter certain body types and that lace can be ripped in outdoor weddings.

15. Communication skills 

Communication skills are essential for a retail sales associate’s job. They need to communicate with customers and their team members daily, which means they must know how to ask for help when required. Politely train your team on dealing specifically.

One of the most important things you can train your team is dealing with certainspecificions. Practice role-playing and go over topics like asking for clarity or even small talk that can be productive.

16. Sales skills 

Sales are not just about product knowledge.

Let’s say you go into a store and ask for the pen. The salesperson offers two choices; one is twice as much but looks exactly like the other cheaper option. Would you reach for the more affordable choice, right?

One example of sales skills is feature-benefit selling, where the salesman lists a product’s features and explains how they benefit the user. There are also clear closes like “Are you interested in trying it out?”

It is essential to teach them theessentiall skills they need before putting them on commission when hiring salespeople.

17. Customer service skills 

A customer-facing team member needs to have strong customer service skills. If they are not willing to help a person who is not buying, you should keep them away from your sales staff.

The key to customer service is listening and finding a solution that works. Being patient and emphatic are also important.

18. Tech literacy

One of the most overlooked sales associate skills is knowing how to use retail tech. Understanding and leveraging these tools can greatly hesignificantlyles associates.

All retail stores use a point-of-sale system to process transactions. In addition, some also have on-the-floor floor technology like iPads or digital catalogs that they need to learn how to use.

Final Thoughts on Sales Associate Retail Skills

When looking for a sales associate, you should consider both hard and soft retail skills. These include industry knowledge as well as empathy. However, keep in mind that there are some qualities that can’t be taught.

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