The IT and consumer electronic industries are afflicted by poorly trained sales staff, which is costing Australian retailers more than A$1 billion in missed sales, according to performance analysis firm, Grass Roots Group. In a survey titled Are you being sold, 1400 mystery shoppers tested consumer electronics and IT retailers in Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. The company tried to ascertain how effective sales staffs across the sector were at selling a particular electronic product from a list of 14 assigned brands including Sony, Canon and LG. According to its findings, 30 percent of salespeople neglected to ‘close’ the sale or asked the customer whether they would like to purchase the product. Around 77 percent did not cross-sell complementary products, and 20 percent did not approach the shopper at all. Australia was at the lower end of the spectrum, with only 10 percent of mystery shoppers finding services beyond expectations. Twenty percent of shoppers said services barely made the grade. And despite having strong product knowledge, almost 30 percent of surveyed staff failed to close the sale, while 79 percent forgot to up sell with complementary offerings. The saving grace for Australian sales employees was their friendliness. Grass Roots reported 75 percent of shoppers rated their salesperson as good to excellent, compared to the regional average of 56 percent. Overall, the country outperformed its peers in the region and was better at determining customer needs. In a statement, Grass Roots Asia director, Steve Hibberd, said the results showed a general lack in fundamental sales skills that was losing the sector millions of dollars. “As much as I’d be concerned if I were Canon, LG or Sony, I’d probably be a lot more concerned if I were one of the major electronics retailers,” Hibberd said in a statement. “Millions of dollars are literally walking out of their stores due to the lack of some really basic sales skills. Even in a fast food restaurant, I get asked if I want fries, but these relatively big ticket sales aren’t attracting anywhere near the same level of discipline.” Hibberd told ARN a number of factors contributed to the lacklustre results including poor wage and shortcomings in staff training. “Retail salespeople are fairly low paid in the Australian marketplace and are too often not provided with a reason to engage or growth path for them to invest their mind and energy to become the best they can be,” he said. “Retailers could do a better job of engaging, educating, training, recognising and rewarding staff for behaviour that will maximise customer opportunity and grow their business.” Vendors could also collaborate with retailers to help developing skills for sales staffs. “There is a huge focus in brand manufacturers and their relationship with retailers but not enough of that flows down to the actual retail salespeople,” Hibberd said. “So brands can help in training, rewarding and recognising staff to help retailers with funding and content to enable that, which is not done to a large enough degree at the moment.”
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