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Tech Rep
Profit from
knowledge
To kick-start a new Tech Rep
series in Sporting Goods
Business, we have a
revealing, insightful and
anonymous contribution from
an experienced rep from one
of sports’ leading companies
Wall to wall: There is always more for shop staff to learn
I
have spent 20 years in the Sports and an Achilles problem, the assistant may look at Audience participation
Outdoor trade on both sides of the fence the footwear and do a gait analysis, which will I once worked for a retailer where we had weekly
– as supplier and retailer - and I have seen often point to a better shoe for the runner. We training sessions for shop-floor staff. We used to read
how variable staff product knowledge can also sell a support to aid recuperation and early up on the product, its competition and its potential
be. It’s not as straight forward as: multiples stages of recovery, a sock with Achilles downfalls before the session. Some Tech Reps
and their high staff-turnover rate as ‘poor’, protection and shock dispersing soles. Thus an dreaded our sessions because they well knew it
while independents with their long-service £80 shoe sale could be augmented by a £28 would be tough and that their pitch would be
awards and owner-salesmen rate as ‘good’, support, a £25 insole and a £10 sock. The total questioned. Unfortunately, on one occasion a Tech
although that’s often true! sale and profit almost doubles. Most importantly, Rep left in tears: in the middle of a rehearsed
the customer’s chance of a quick and marketing diatribe a graph was shown, claiming that
What matters most is that members of staff are comfortable recovery and non-recurrence is ‘Panther Bell’ cushioning went on forever at 100%
keen on their product. Often they use it vastly improved. Training the staff to spot these effectiveness. The tears started when someone said:
themselves - never underestimate the selling opportunities and correctly sell them benefits “I think we can ignore that graph. Its claim is
power of: “I use this myself”. This is why I always everybody. obviously physically impossible”. Staff should listen to
try to leave product with staff. Some stores have training with an objective mind, rather that blindly
a policy against this, which is folly in my opinion.
The more technical products with more to
learn don’t always prove the hardest sell – often

Some Tech Reps
believing all they are told. From the brand
perspective, Tech Reps need to keep training realistic,
they are the easiest, as lots of features means
dreaded our sessions
and grounded in the real world. Sometimes the
marketing one-liners are best left in the press releases!
lots to talk about. Sometimes comparatively
simple products have one little killer fact that is a
because they well
Retailers should remember that although a
session might be the only training they receive
great sales line, which explains a new use or
knew it would be
from a particular brand all year – the poor Tech
application that will transform sales from poor to
profitable. Communicating this fact to the
tough and that their
Rep may be running the session for the 100th
time. If the audience sits lifeless in front of the
consumer can be the hardest part of the job for
both brands and retailers. pitch would be
trainer, the session won’t be fun or memorable
for anybody. Make the Tech Rep welcome, have
Product passion
questioned.
some questions ready, take notes and – maybe –
offer a small round of applause at the end. Either
There seems to be no demographic to staff
knowledge – it’s not youth or experience that
Unfortunately, on one
that or a handkerchief ...
sells, but a passion for the product that makes
occasion a Tech Rep
Keep talking
the difference. I have one retailer who is an Not everybody learns everything after one hearing.
evangelist for one of our brands. He has
left in tears
personally used it since before it was available

Different members of staff will digest different bits
of information. Simply talking about the product
in the UK, and he attributes much of his ability and the training will re-enforce the whole process.
to still play sport and walk the hills solely to its Without technical product knowledge and Once some of the information has been
benefits. Guess what ... he sells lots of it! understanding of consumer needs the retailer communicated to customers, staff should swap
The company I work for specialises in high-end cannot sell effectively. Any opportunity to receive lines that helped to make a sale – and lines that
accessories to enable people to perform better staff training from brands should be grasped didn’t. If this becomes a part of a retailer’s
for longer, and we focus on training staff to sell eagerly, and here are a few pointers for gleaning corporate culture, new recruits will also get up-to-
a range of solutions. For instance, if a runner has maximum benefit from a Tech Rep. speed much faster.
S
26 SGB SPORT NOVEMBER 2009
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