April 11, 2018

Communicate the Story. Connect to the Frontline.

We all know that brand story matters.  It’s been shown that the narratives we attach to what we sell increase our products’ value.  There’s no need to be cynical about that reality. Good brand stories - ones that are clear and authentic - resonate with customers, for all the right reasons.

This is as true today as it was a hundred years ago. Which is important, because even though technology has created new channels to get a story from brand to buyer, one of the most reliable tactics is still through the direct connection made between a customer and the salesperson working on the shop floor.

So, what’s new?  

If the tried-and-true method of using sales associates to help convey a brand’s story  is still a valuable strategy, do we really need to change anything?  

Well, yes!  

Technological advancements in 21st century retail have altered the way brands and retailers run their businesses. Faced with online competition, the realities of higher staff turnover, and ever narrowing profit margins, traditional retailers are cutting costs on all fronts. This includes the cost of training sales teams on products and brand stories. As a result, ensuring that retail employees are equipped with the knowledge needed to effectively do their jobs is becoming more challenging.

Let’s look at the reasons why.

Less than a decade ago, the typical strategy for providing sales associates with product information was through the brand rep.  Traveling from store to store, these reps would organize training sessions to familiarize workers with new products, all while telling the brand’s story.

But after-hours training is expensive for retailers.  Given that frontline turnover averages 70% annually, the staff educated on your products may not be working at the store six months down the road.  The retailer faces expensive inefficiencies when it comes to once-a-year in-person staff-training, and your brand story gets lost in the shuffle.

This has been coming for a long time, but it’s important to recognize that the era of exclusively relying on the seasonal PK night is mostly behind us (we know, it’s kind of sad).

When faced with this reality however, we must ask - where do we go from here? How do we find a better way?

Focus on the good to identify what you need

It’s ironic that while retailers are less likely to invest in brand training, business experts consistently point to the link between knowledgeable frontline staff and successful storefront retail. Brick-and-mortar retailers, who survive and thrive in this market, staff their stores with merchandise mavens - people who know the product and how to sell it, all while delivering great customer experience.

Why is this the case?

Well, research shows that despite the increase of online shopping, people still like walking into shops and talking to salespeople. The difference is that these customers are far more savvy – they’re knowledgeable about products, and want to talk to a sales team who will provide further insight and advice on a potential purchase.

Add to this the fact that millennial and Gen Z consumers are usually familiar with aspects of a brand’s story through social media and other cross-marketing strategies. This is great, but it also means that the frontline sales team must be ready and able to communicate your brand message in a way that is unique and interesting to a smarter, shrewder clientele.  

So, how do you help retailers train a staff that’s equipped to handle the modern consumer? How do you effectively communicate your brand story to that frontline?

Use tech to teach

This is a 21st century problem that needs a 21st century solution. It’s important to exploit everything communication technology has to offer. Just as marketing teams embrace tech innovation to connect to the consumer, brands and retailers can use tech to get their message directly to sales staff.   

Through the NewKnow app, sales associates are trained at any time and re-trained throughout the year.  If something exciting happens with your brand, the frontline is notified directly through their phones. New modules are sent the same day a new product is shipped. Direct interaction between your brand and the people selling your goods, is as frequent as you need it to be.

It’s about getting tech to help you educate and connect.

That’s what it’s about, right?  Selling products depends on getting people to connect to your brand, and that means connecting to the people telling your brand story. In 2018, technology makes that happen.  Using tech as a tool to train retail staff means that customers will hear your brand story accurately and consistently, across all stores and throughout the year. It’s efficient, impactful and accountable. You know your brand story best.  NewKnow’s technology is the best way to get your story to the frontline.

Sell better together.
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