As the backbone of retail operations, sales supervisors are the driving force behind the success of any retail business. But to navigate an ever-changing commercial landscape, they need to spin multiple plates, simultaneously motivating their team, optimizing their workflows, and curating client relationships.
But with so many potential avenues for improvement, it’s difficult to know where to start.
That’s why, at Bitrix24, we’ve put together 10 ways sales supervisors drive impact so you can shape how your business does retail. Put your analytical cap on and delve into fresh twists on your existing processes and new strategies you may never have considered before.
When hiring sales agents, it’s all too easy to slip into tired old habits of glancing at a resume, liking what you see, and quickly offering a contract so you can plug a gap in your team. But the best sales supervisors take the hiring element of team management to another level, ensuring that they hire the right person the first time and keep turnover low.
Sure, you want someone who could sell snow to the Eskimos, but those skills may come with extra baggage, such as toxic habits or a feeling of superiority. In the long run, this will erode the unity of your team and affect your impact as a sales supervisor.
With fully comprehensive HR management software, you can not only put together an internal hiring team and schedule interviews, but you can also screen batches of resumes to speed up your process. Then, when it comes to the interview stage, keep a checklist of green flags to look out for. Weaker profiles who are open to learning are often preferable to stubborn candidates with an impressive track record.
And once you have your malleable team, create a bulletproof onboarding process that covers company culture as well as the tools you use and the workflows you follow. Your onboarding documents can serve as the first step in a long-term internal training initiative, whereby agents who make repeated mistakes go through a quick refresher course to maintain that high performance.
The expectations that a sales supervisor can set are myriad and varied, from key performance objectives to clock-in and clock-out times. However, for this section, we’re going to focus on behavioral expectations, which is a make-or-break element of team management.
First things first: you can’t expect a team to follow your lead if you’re inconsistent. Therefore, as you’re building your team, outline what they should expect from you. For example, set standards for the kind of feedback you’ll offer, how frequently, and via which communication platform.
When it comes to setting expectations for your team, outline the behaviors you’d like to see from each individual. Perhaps you’d like to promote togetherness and transparency through daily standups, or you could request that senior employees guide new recruits.
Whatever you decide to go for, the golden rule in expectations is consistency. With everybody on the same page and pulling in the same direction, you reduce the likelihood of distractions, wasted time, and demotivation while promoting teamwork, coherence, and efficiency.
We all want a seat at the table with the big dogs of the retail industry. But you can’t run before you walk, so setting realistic but positive targets is another key element of team management.
Now you’ve got a good company culture in place and a bunch of minds willing to be molded, you should get to work setting clear objectives for each individual. This will be the yardstick against which their successes are measured, but also a warning sign of when things are going wrong.
Rather than standardizing your targets across the board, analyze each agent’s current performance and set goals that will push them without demotivating them. Take time to celebrate achievements as a team and ride the wave of your success as you enter the next quarter or sales cycle.
To monitor performance, you don’t need to micromanage each individual, which often leads to unnecessary pressure. Instead, you can track sales performance data and identify trends. If you see that results are below expectations, gently invite the agent to a meeting where you can get to the bottom of the issue and offer more training, or adapt your processes to get back on track.
With new consumer habits, payment methods, and shopping formats evolving at a rapid rate, retail industry trends are in constant flux. Therefore, sales supervisors have been forced into a situation where they either adapt or quickly sink into irrelevance. They need to understand the pulse of the market, anticipate changes, and adapt strategies to stay ahead of the competition, and frequently trying out fresh, creative ideas is a great practice to adopt.
Sales leadership should systematically test retail innovation to see what sticks. Well-funded organizations are already looking into augmented reality experiences for e-commerce. Still, retail businesses of all sizes can start leveraging AI chatbots as shop assistants to personalize the customer journey.
Clearly, you need to measure the impact of your new sales techniques, and customer relationship analysis is a great place to start. As you launch each initiative, offer options to give feedback, both as ratings and with text boxes for customers to go into more detail. A well-organized customer relationship management system will collate all your feedback in one place so you can quickly run analytics and draw out actionable insights.
Shifting away from internal best practices and onto the public face of your company, we’re now going to look at how you deal with your customer base. Recent retail industry trends have pushed beyond traditional customer service and into the idea of customer success: ensuring that anyone who buys a product from you gets the most out of their purchase.
To be a flag bearer for customer success, you need to instill the right culture. This involves training team members to understand and anticipate customer needs, handle customer complaints effectively, and go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.
On a more practical level, sales supervisors can implement consistency in their B2C interactions by adopting tools such as a customer relationship management system (CRM). Essentially a powerful client database, you can store data from names and email addresses to purchase history and individual preferences. With a CRM on the cloud, anybody in your team can access a customer's full file before speaking to them, offering a personalized service every time.
In addition, you should set up consistent, tested workflows to deal with every request in a structured, professional way. Your workflows aren't just there to solve your customer's issue. They're also a way to stop key aspects — such as a polite sign-off and a confirmation that the problem is solved — from falling through the cracks.
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Trying to improve your numbers without data is like heading out on a round-the-world trip with no map. It might be fun, but with no idea where you’re going, you could quickly run into trouble.
Luckily, with sales intelligence software becoming ever more ubiquitous, sales supervisor roles have evolved to include data analysis. If you don’t know how to use analysis, it’s time to get started.
In essence, sales intelligence software is a CRM with built-in analytics tools. With little-to-no effort in the setup, you can monitor your marketing efforts, rank your sales agents in terms of volume, and see who your top performers are in terms of conversions.
In the retail industry, the more you know, the better equipped you are to improve. So rather than working on a hunch and guesswork, bring data into your sales leadership style and start making fact-based changes.
Throughout this article, we’ve hinted at the importance of training and development in sales supervisor roles. Essentially, it’s a way of staying competitive in a constantly shifting industry by identifying skill gaps, providing training opportunities, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. From getting the most out of your CRM to enhancing your team’s first contact with clients, there is an endless list of areas you can improve.
But rather than creating sessions based on what springs to mind, we’d recommend structuring your training sessions on a cloud-based knowledge management and eLearning platform. With multimedia capabilities, automatic test grading, and an attempts log, you can create interconnected training schedules and monitor the progress of your team. If an individual shows weakness in one area, the system will flag them for potential extra training, meaning you can fix problems when they arise, not when it’s already too late. Bit by bit, training and development efforts will have a great impact on your team’s engagement and their KPIs.
It’s all well and good training your team to be the best, but if they don’t see the point of their work or a path for progression, their motivation and performance will quickly drop off.
Sales supervisors are responsible for creating a motivated environment, setting the pace for work, and providing the incentives needed to maintain it. Go too hard, and your team will burn out. Go too slow, and your team will pick up bad habits.
Starting at the simple level, setting targets in your CRM helps individuals visualize where they need to be. Implement bonuses or other non-monetary incentives for hitting their targets, and you’ll get a little more effort out of people every month.
But motivation isn’t just about rewards. Be sure to show your support to your team through regular one-to-one catch-ups or appraisals. These are where you really connect with your team, resolving any issues, offering advice for improvement, and ensuring you’re aligned on the same goals.
Teams from all industries want to make their processes more efficient but often take a reactive, rather than a proactive, approach. But here are two ways sales supervisors can make retail innovation systematic through effective shortcuts:
It’s super easy to fall into habits of using your project management or CRM tools like you always have done. However, most platforms come with comprehensive training centers that allow you to fully understand the tools you’re using and boost efficiency. Look out for automations, integrations, and features you don’t yet understand to find out how you can streamline your workflows.
Only leaders lacking in confidence will take a “my way or the highway” approach. But in reality, it’s your team that is using their sales tools day in, day out, so they’re the best source of information for how to improve them. Encourage your team to keep notes on potential improvements and get together periodically to explore these ideas. While your meeting might take 30 minutes, you could quickly make that time back through improved efficiency.
Teams that work from home have boomed in recent years and it’s clear to see why. You can hire talent from all over the world, cover a wider range of markets, and save on the costs of renting office space.
Sure, you don’t get that face-to-face experience that many people value, but with the quality of video conferencing tools and the simplicity of project management platforms, worries about a lack of physical proximity are quickly becoming a dated concern.
To switch to remote work, you’ll, of course, have to make some changes. You’ll need a clear, predictable communications policy to stay in contact, for example. However, the vast majority of elements can stay the same. You’ll use the same task management tool to assign instructions, collect data from the same CRM to analyze performance, and use the same online knowledge base to improve your team. Could it be any easier?
That might have been a lot of information to take in, but we’re sure you spotted something that resonates with you.
In truth, driving impact in retail never comes easy, but you can make the path much smoother by adopting tech that facilitates your day-to-day.
Bitrix24 is a perfect example. An all-in-one business platform with everything you need to manage your sales team:
A powerful CRM to track customer interactions
An online training center to keep your team ahead of the competition
Project management software to organize and monitor progress
Automations and integrations to streamline your processes
Multiple channels for seamless communication (even for remote teams!)
Key roles of a sales supervisor in the retail industry include:
Sales supervisors impact the retail industry by:
A sales supervisor can improve team performance by: