Our two-year survey of sales associates shows investing in retail employees can make them better brand advocates during peak sales events.
Black Friday and the weeks that follow undoubtedly comprise the biggest shopping season of the year. Top brands and retailers will be investing in marketing strategies to reach their sales goals. With the rise of influencers on social media, many will be looking to influencer marketing to reach those holiday goals, but only the best are elevating their marketing strategies by embracing advocate marketing.
By investing in their most impactful advocates—retail sales associates—retailers can increase their overall sales for these high-volume events. After all, it’s sales associates who guide people through the last and most crucial part of their buying journey: deciding what to buy.
Experticity combined two years of polling results from 830 US-based retail sales associates. All participants were part of the company’s community of experts. The purpose of these surveys was to discover how the choices retailers make impact their employees as brand and sales advocates.
The results showed advocacy from retail associates was an important part of increasing sales and brand awareness. The survey also revealed ways retailers could strengthen the impact of advocacy and brand loyalty. Proactive moves like increasing training, offering time off, and alleviating work complaints are all effective ways to increase sales and brand advocacy.
The impact of sales associates can’t be overstated, especially when it comes to influencing the purchasing decisions of their friends and family during the holiday seasons. One survey showed:
- 94% of retail associates have conversations with family and friends about the deals and products offered in their stores during the holidays. Which means that only 6% aren’t helping their retailers drive conversations about their deals and products by having conversations outside of the store
- Almost half (47%) of those employees say they have up to 10 conversations about those products per week
Look for Black Friday Experience
Many of the sales associates we surveyed are seasoned veterans of Black Friday. More than 50% said they had worked the annual sales event six or more times. When looking to hire extra help, consider previous Black Friday experience a big plus. Experience helps when dealing with stress from long days, hectic checkout lines, and rude customers, all of which will translate into more sales and a better experience for both the associate and the consumer.
- 23% said they have worked Black Friday 2-3 times
- 12% said they have worked Black Friday 4-5 times
- 50% said they have worked Black Friday 6+ times
Investing in training is an effective way to increase sales. The majority of sales associates believed they could sell more products per day if they knew more about a product or brand. Interestingly, 44% of associates feel they are more knowledgeable than their managers about the products sold in their store. Here are some more key takeaways:
- 32% of associates think they could sell 3-5 more products per day if they knew more about the product or brand
- 23% of associates think they could sell 5-10 more products per day
- 7% of associates think they could sell 10-15 more products per day
- 13% of associates think they could sell 15+ more products per day
- Only 6% of associates felt they couldn’t sell more products per day
Offer Time Off
With #optoutside, REI is winning not only consumer buzz, but also appreciation from its staff who have been given time to spend outdoors and with their families. While it might not be possible for some retailers to completely shut down for the biggest shopping day of the year, it could be possible to offer some employees the day off. In the survey, many reported a change in the loyalty they would feel towards an employer if given the opportunity.
- 48% of associates say their loyalty to their employer would increase if they were given the opportunity to take Thanksgiving and Black Friday off
- Almost one-third (31%) of associates say they’d be more likely to recommend the brand to family or friends if they had Thanksgiving off to spend with their families.
- 21% of associates say they would be more willing to work longer hours during December if they were given Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday off.
Understand Their Motivation
Despite nearly 60% of experts reporting they were “required to work,” others were motivated for different reasons. Tap into these motivations and invest in the contentment of sales associates.
- 17% said they were motivated by the paycheck
- 9% said they wanted to “witness the spectacle”
- 4% said they wanted to see the new products
For the 52% of sales associates whose loyalty wouldn’t change if given Thanksgiving and Black Friday off, there’s still an opportunity to improve their work lives and advocacy impact. We asked our experts about their worst experiences during Black Friday to understand their most irksome problems. Here were the biggest complaints and some ways to alleviate them:
Prepare for “Rude People”
48% of associates said they had been yelled at by a customer. While little can be done to directly change shoppers’ attitudes, having a good plan for dealing with them is a positive first step. Sales associates should be trained in how to de-escalate tense situations. They should also know when it’s appropriate to “speak to the manager” and when they can handle it themselves. If employees have a plan they can fall back on, they will feel less stressed and more in control.
Hire More Help
Another major complaint was about working too many hours. One way around the problem is to bring on extra help for Black Friday. 22% of our surveyed experts said hiring more workers during the holiday season would improve their overall well-being. More help also means more control of the store’s inventory and customer service. Most importantly, your sales associates go home happier.
If hiring more help isn’t an option, consider increasing hourly wages for those sales associates working on Black Friday. Nearly half of associates said their holiday retail experience would improve if they were paid more during the holidays.
Here was one respondent’s chief complaint: “Going out to eat lunch and not able to find parking spot when I returned.” Alleviating smaller issues like lunch for employees can go a long way in making them happy. Think about catering lunch so employees don’t need to leave then come back if they don’t want to.
Keep Ads Accurate
Another way to keep both customers and employees happy is to ensure the accuracy of your promotions. Many sales associates complained about “confusing” or “misleading” ads, which lead to “grumpy customers.” Double check any promotional ads you run beforehand to make sure misprinted or changing prices and buying limits don’t surprise Black Friday customers.
These surveys show the power of sales associates during Black Friday. Use these results to help you turn your associates into effective advocates for your brand and increase sales during the holiday season.