HR & Business

Employees come first. On how to effectively increase sales in retail

How to effectively increase sales in retail

What does it take to increase sales and create a customer-centric company? As it turns out, catchy ads and efficient logistics are sometimes not enough. However, experience proves that there are no simple and obvious solutions in business. You need to work for your success all the time. Can building an employee-centric organizational culture increase sales and customer satisfaction?

Customer-centric organizations, meaning the ones willing to put the customers and their needs first, focus most of their activities on proper logistics, tools, systems, and product trainings. Customer needs, quality of service, and service standards are tossed around by them all the time. And that’s a good thing, of course, because they provide tremendous support in the process of achieving business goals, increasing sales and elevating its image. Usually, however, when confronted with a changing market and a demanding customer, they turn out to be insufficient.

Brief Introduction to Management

If your company is to sell effectively, you need to take care of your employees. End of story. These are the pillars without which a company is just a nice looking but empty shell. The management, the leaders, and the ordinary employees. They are the ones who give value and are the driving force behind any business. So if you want to create an organization that cares about its customers, start with your employees. Appreciate their knowledge of your business and use their resources properly. Make the values you build your company on become their values, too. But be careful, there are no shortcuts here.

Focus on customers or employees?

Tim Johnson, CEO of one of the largest recruitment agencies in the United States, specializing in hiring IT and digital marketing professionals, described the benefits his company has experienced by implementing an employee-centric culture as early as in 2018. Both Mondo, the company he manages, and other organizations that have adopted this strategy have found that a purely customer-centric approach has not delivered long-term results. But shifting the focus from the customer to the employee comes with benefits. What’s the reason for this? It’s all quite simple: it turned out that how you treat your employees translates into how they treat your customers. And while this strategy provokes resistance at first because it implies neglecting customers in favor of employees, it is quite the opposite.

Humble leadership—what your employee actually needs

Mondo took this approach a step further by implementing an employee-centric management system. Johnson says: effective leaders should perceive their role as an opportunity to serve their employees by helping them grow and learn. Daniel Cable, a psychologist also emphasizes the advantages of this style of management, called humble leadership. In his book, he argues that any ‘repressive’ or top-down management methods are no longer valid and ineffective. Then how do you support your employees to keep sales growing and customers coming back?

Man worker and woman client in a retail paint shop choose a color of a paint

Employees like customers

Shifting the focus from ‘pro customer’ to ‘pro employee’ management may seem to be a risky move. But if you agree that those who are on the front line of customer contact are the ones who have the expertise and resources to meet customer expectations, the decision seems obvious. Yet this cannot be a short-term effort, but a long-term strategy, resulting from the company’s goals and values. It should be based on several fundamental elements.

Building value-driven teams

The hiring process for sales departments is usually one-sided: we hire an employee in line with the job description. Corporate values, and how they align with the candidate’s values, are usually an additional element that is often overlooked throughout the process. And if they become the starting point for all the recruitments conducted in the company, there is a chance to create an organizational culture that is both coherent and diverse. It is not about creating teams of communicative, confident, and feisty salespeople. In the long run, such a strategy is short-term and destined to fail. An engaged team, attentive to the needs of the team and those of their customers, focused on growth and development, becomes the driving force behind any company. The success, however, is not about their expertise, but their coherent values.

Positive employee experience

Research shows that companies hiring engaged employees outperform their competitors in terms of growth by 147%. So there is a lot to strive for, especially since as many as 80% of consumers expect a personalized shopping experience, which means direct or indirect contact with the salesperson. There is also a certain correlation between (four times) higher profit and investment of companies in the so-called employee experience. So if you want to build a positive experience for your employees, counting on their engagement, you need to consider every stage of life of an employee in the organization—from recruitment, through onboarding, training, development, incentive systems, to the end of the employment.

You can help increase sales in your organization and boost customer satisfaction by as much as 16%. Put your employee first with effective L&D and Talent Management solutions.

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Employees establish business credibility

You can’t build an employee-centric company meeting employee expectations without asking your employees . Yet there is one condition. This should be done regularly with the attitude of listening and learning, even if it entails controversy and difficult emotions on both sides. Sometimes a quick pulse check—examining the mood of the company—will do the trick. Sometimes, a simple conversation, summarizing recent difficulties encountered during contact with the customer, will be enough. Trusting your employees and their experiences pays off with a sense of ownership. Its absence is a common cause of decreased engagement in sales and customer service departments and reduced job satisfaction. And you know, a happy employee makes for a happy customer. What’s more, brands building Customer Experience based on Employee Experience gain something very valuable: credibility.

Leaders serving employees

Humble leadership, mentioned above, introduces us to a new dimension of contemporary leadership. It assumes that employees acting in line with company values, when interacting with customers, need support, and not control. You will not build a positive employee experience by basing the management on accountability for achieving goals, pointing out mistakes, and depriving employees of the sense of influence and control. The experience of recent months has shown that, from the point of view of the employees, the most desirable leadership trait is empathy. And isn’t that what we expect from our employees when communicating with customers? The role of today’s leaders is to support employees, listen to them, and provide them with the tools to achieve their goals with a sense of fulfillment and engagement. Only with such support will an employee-centered strategy of a company translate into satisfied customers.

The investment of resources and energy in creating an organizational culture centered around engaged employees is gaining more and more support and understanding among managers. This is true for any industry, but especially for retail. After all, the image of companies translates directly into sales, as evidenced not only by research, but also by the increased interest of companies in activities related to CSR and Employer Branding. ‘Ad hoc’ actions seldom produce the desired effect, and people usually perceive them as a desperate attempt to save a sinking ship. The solution, as always, is a deliberate, coherent, and consistently implemented strategy, built on solid value-driven foundations. 

We believe people-first approach is a key. An organization grows when you implement effective digital L&D and Talent Management solutions.

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