3 Tips for Retail Coaching Success

Sales Coaching Tips for Retail Managers

Learn the 3 Steps to Becoming a Kick-Ass Retail Sales Coach

Want to get the best from your sales team?

Sales coaching is fundamental to the success of training because it gives trainees a way to practise new skills and break bad habits.

It can also mean the difference between hitting budget or not, when you’re coaching retail teams.

It’s about creating a more successful outcome for the trainee. But, it also has other effects like; creating loyalty, increasing enjoyment and motivation, and even reducing sick days.

Use these sales coaching tips to see your sales figures soar!


Did you know that the number of staff reaching and exceeding target increases by 25% when there’s a formal coaching process in place?

We understand the value of face-to-face feedback in a retail environment, which is why we take a blended learning approach to our training.

We facilitate face-to-face coaching interactions with our practice activities, which a coach must observe and mark as complete before the trainee can progress through to the next session in their training.

We’re not the only ones either.

A study conducted by Gartner recently found that 72% of L&D Managers have noticed that the expectation of having a manager involved in staff upskilling has increased in the past three years.

On-the-floor coaching with real-time feedback is one of the most impactful ways you can do this within a retail business.

Gartner research increased manager involvement in upskilling

Real-time practice and feedback means learning is more effective, suited better to the retail environment, and provides an accurate overview of the trainee’s understanding of the new skill.

The ‘Coaching Feedback Loop’ is fundamental to the success of our training because it gives coaches an easy way to keep track of coaching and monitor engagement.

It’s about creating a more successful outcome for the trainee. But, it also has other effects like; creating loyalty, increasing enjoyment and motivation, and even reducing sick days.

To help you get started, we’ve picked out the three most important factors for your face-to-face coaching to be a success.

1. Get to Know Your Team

Think about when you deal with customers. Do you treat every customer the same and expect to get the same results? 

Probably not.

Which is precisely why this is one of the first sales coaching tips we have!

We all know that, in its essence, the retail game is about creating winning customer experiences for each customer. In the same way, it’s unfair to coach your team identically and expect the same results from each person. It’s important to appreciate that everyone on your team is different.

As a manager it’s your job to make sure you know what motivates your team. Does your trainee respond better to positive reinforcement? Do they prefer feedback from someone who’s not scared to ‘call a spade a spade’?

Whatever their preference is, get to know your team before you begin coaching so you can appeal to their communication style. There are four widely recognised personality types that your team will typically fall into:

Knowing which of these personality types is the dominant one when coaching a team member will influence the way you give them feedback.

2. Know Each Step in the Process

Every technique we teach trainees involves a process; a linked sequence of smaller skills that have a correct order. 

The second in the list of sales coaching tips is always making sure you understand the process that you’re trying to coach your sales team on.

Before you complete an observation it’s important to know exactly what it is that you’re observing and, your team will expect you to know. The bottom line is; you can’t effectively teach a technique that you don’t completely understand.

Knowing the process is an important step in the process, particularly when you see the disparity between how sales coaches rank their own ability compared to how they’re perceived by their teams.

Coaching Ability Survey

Think about how you learned to ride a bike.

You don’t learn to brake before you learn to pedal and you don’t learn to pedal before you learn about balance. If you’ve not mastered the art of balance, you will struggle to pedal successfully. If you can’t figure out how to pedal effectively, chances are you won’t need to use the brakes.

As BikeHub.co.uk put’s it: “Learning to cycle is nine-tenths controlled balance, pedalling is merely a means of propulsion to keep the balancing act going.”

The sales process is no different. Your team need to master each sequential step in the process before they can become proficient in closing more sales.

Knowing the ‘why’ of a technique is just as important because it resonates with adult learners. They need to have logic behind an action and the more relevant it is to their day to day life, the better.

TIP: Log into RedSeed before a coaching session to refresh your memory of the technique you’re observing.

In each RedSeed training session, we explain the ‘why’ from a customers perspective which puts the learner in the customers shoes, which resonates more with retailers…because everyone’s been a customer at some point!

Click here to find out more about our online retail sales training programs

“When clients approach us we hear a lot of the same frustrations. My people aren’t adding-on, my people aren’t closing…it’s typically because they’ve not done something else earlier in the process correctly.”

– Anya Anderson, CEO, RedSeed

3. Keep it Simple, Stupid

We know it can be hard to hold your tongue at times and keep feedback constructive. 

In the best interests of your trainee – and for your own sanity – don’t over-complicate your feedback!

While this is the last in our list of sales coaching tips, it’s by no means the least important.

Remember, your staff aren’t always going to get it right, and sometimes they might even get it horribly wrong but, stay positive and keep the praise coming (for their effort), even when things go awry.

When you’re giving feedback, particularly to someone who’s learning a new skill, it’s important to keep things simple. Pick just one part of the technique for them to improve on. Resist the urge to pile your trainee up with a list of things to fix.

Sure, there may be a few things you want them to improve on, but you’ve got two options:

Pick the first error

Following the logical order of the process, work on it from beginning to end. Tackle the first misstep and work on that until they get it right, then move on to the next error in the process.

Pick the behaviour which is having the biggest impact

Sometimes, some errors are too big to ignore. Here’s where you can make a judgement call to skip the linear approach and cut straight to the problem.

The Conscious Competence Ladder

Ever heard of the Conscious Competence Ladder?

First created in the 1970’s, the ladder is a great tool to guide you through your own personal learning. It’s also useful when you’re coaching your team through the up’s-and-down’s of learning new skills.

When you’re giving feedback on an error, consider where your trainee sits on the ‘Conscious Competence Ladder’. This will let you know what level of detail and feedback you can go into.

MindTools provides a great outline how how to coach using the ladder to give the right kind of feedback and coaching to your trainees. Each rung in the ladder has a different set of needs, and it’s up to you, as a coach, to be aware of these to make the most of your coaching sessions.

Coaching with the Conscious Competence Ladder

LEVEL 1 Unconsciously Unskilled

At the beginning of the process, people may not know how unskilled they are, so you’ll need to make them aware of how much they need to learn.

You’ll also need to explain why they need to learn these skills.

Be sensitive at this early stage, and give plenty of positive feedback to keep people’s motivation high.

LEVEL 2 Consciously Unskilled

During this stage, provide plenty of encouragement and support, and explain the idea of the Conscious Competence Ladder, so that people understand any feelings of discouragement that they are experiencing.

Also, help them improve their self-confidence, if required.

LEVEL 3 Consciously Skilled

At this stage, keep people focused on the skills that they need to learn, and give them plenty of opportunities to practice these skills.

For example, you could assign them projects that use their new skills, or set them relevant training exercises.

LEVEL 4 Unconsciously Skilled

At this level, you’ll need to make sure that people avoid complacency, and that they stay up-to-date with their skills.

You may also need to remind people how difficult it was to reach this level, so that they are kind to people who are at an earlier stage in the process.

Anya Anderson - RedSeed CEO

Anya Anderson is the co-founder and CEO of training specialist company, RedSeed, which has been built on her own personal experience working in the Learning and Development industry for over twenty-five years.

Making content relevant, and of high-quality are the most important factors for Anya when developing new programme content for large corporates, hosted on the RedSeed LMS, a proprietary learning management system developed by RedSeed out of the need for a system that was easy to use, while being flexible enough to meet the training needs of a wide variety of business types.