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Training and development

Clearly not all staff are the same and not all may be causing tripping points, or the same tripping points, therefore any training programme must be based on individual need. Analysis of the emotional, motivational and functional intelligence of customer-facing employees and their levels of resilience to stress is used to inform the design and delivery of training programmes. Customer-facing staff are coached to better understand psychology and human behaviour and also in developing their emotional intelligence to help them determine why customers may be feeling or behaving in a certain way and how best to respond. Our brains haven’t yet come to

terms with the sophistication of the modern world and we are still programmed to react instinctively to stressful situations as we did during early human development. Some of our reactions may seem odd and what triggers them insignificant, but things are often not as they appear and if sales staff are to appreciate how tripping points work, they need to understand what’s causing them. For example, when we enter any

new environment our brains are pro- grammed to assess if that environment is ‘safe’. Tis is an unconscious process. We know we are not in danger when we enter a shop, but the ‘primitive’ programming in our brain doesn’t distinguish between a jungle full of predators and a shop full of people.

Read the signs

If we enter a retail environment and a sales person walks up to us immediately, our brains may not yet feel ‘safe’ but we are being approached by a stranger. So while consciously we might just think it’s annoying, unconsciously our brain interprets this as a threat. It’s a major tripping point and very common as many sales people are trained to ‘pounce’ on potential customers as soon as they walk in. Te importance of offering a

hot drink may also appear trivial, but the offer of something ‘free’ and the fact the drink is hot will unconsciously engender warm feelings in the customer. By not offering a hot drink in a

situation where a customer is likely to be spending a fair bit of time – and money – we’re basically saying ‘I’m the important one here, this is my territory and I’m comfortable in it, but you and your feelings don’t matter’. Another key tripping point is,

perhaps unsurprisingly, pricing. It’s essential that sales people are trans- parent about pricing. It’s a topic that some people find difficult to address and there can be a tendency to try and fudge pricing in order to win the sale. But openness is key and sales

personnel should not be afraid to be honest about it. Te customer will find out sooner or later if they have been

A different approach to sales training

We belive that it’s not about how to sell, but about why customers don’t buy. After providing the background to tripping points by explaining the science behind them, we can then introduce the specific tripping points the research has highlighted and coach customer-facing staff to recognise and overcome them. Helping sales staff to empathise

with customers by coaching them in emotional, motivational and physiological intelligence skills makes it more likely that tripping points will be avoided. Our training sessions take place

Helping sales staff to empathise with customers makes it more likely that tripping points will be avoided

misled, and even if they still proceed with the sale they may not come back again or recommend you to others. Once trust has been lost, the damage is done and customers will be unlikely to give the retailer a second chance. Similarly, handling browsers and

general enquirers with patience is essen- tial. Tough they may not be in buying mode at the time, they may be next week, or next month. Sales personnel should be coached to take a longer term view about the value of the customer. Sales staff must therefore

be encouraged to think inde- pendently and not treat every customer in the same way. When encountering a customer

for the first time, sales people will have no idea of what has been happening to them prior to coming in, or how many tripping points they may already have experienced. Te customer may have had

trouble parking; they may have tried to buy online or wanted to make an appointment with a sales consultant and had difficulty doing so, so they may already have a negative impression of the retailer. It’s vital sales staff are conscious of this as they have the power to reverse bad impressions.

on site and are experiential. For example, we encourage sales staff to put themselves in the position of the customer and also to reflect on their own experiences as customers and the tripping points they have encountered. We also use lifestyle assessments to

help employees improve their resilience to stress and develop their ability to form better relationships with others. Stress is a key influencer on sales

performance and can be both a positive and negative force. Stress is, of course, ever-present in target-dependent sales roles and can be harnessed to good effect, but when it becomes overpow- ering it can have a negative impact, not only on the employee’s performance but also on their mental wellbeing. In the work we do with our clients,

we encourage employees to view stress as ‘load’, that is, the things that have to be done (including in their personal lives) but which can be managed. Tinking about stress differently helps to diminish its debilitating impact. Over years of research for our

clients, we have identified many trip- ping points and have highlighted just some of the most common ones here. Whatever their nature, our

evidence is clear: by finding and then fixing the tripping points in your business you will increase sales, profit, customer retention, staff retention and productivity.

Tim Routledge is chief experience officer at specialist customer experience consultancy, Experience Insight. Find out more at

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