ICFA Launches Sales Training Program

HIGH POINT, N.C. - A training program intended to help retail associates gain the skills and confidence necessary to improve their sales performance and help them succeed in selling more outdoor furniture is underway with more than 400 participants. Sponsored by the International Casual Furnishings Association, the accelerated online learning series is produced by Bob Phibbs, aka the Retail Doc and creator of Sales RX.

This customized, three-month instruction package is designed for retail associates to create stellar customer experiences, make working in the store more enjoyable and, most importantly, increase sales. A curriculum of short learning modules includes testing at the end of each lesson and is overseen at each store by a champion who charts each associate’s progress and achievement. Successful completion of the 12-week syllabus is rewarded with a certificate.

“In my 29 years in the industry, one thing that I have noticed is a lack of sales education with many retail sales staff,” said Harold Hudson, president of Summer Classics Private Label and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Casual Furnishings Association. “The program ICFA is offering is not product knowledge but covers ways to greet customers, explain why your retail store is better than competitors and how to respond to the statement ‘I need to think about it,’” he continued.

Karen Brams, president of Island Living & Patio in West Palm Beach, Florida, and chair of the ICFA Retail Council, noted, "Beyond building confidence and sales, I see this program as a vehicle to help us correct the bad habits that some associates have developed over time and empower them to rise to a higher level of success."

While the store champions began their training this week, the associates will start their instruction on April 1. Besides completing two learning modules each week, the associates will engage in roleplaying exercises led by the champions.

Phibbs, who was a presenter at the 2019 ICFA Educational Conference in San Antonio, Texas, brings over 30 years of retail experience and has worked with more than 1,000 retail executives and entrepreneurs to grow margins, improve customer service and train employees. “Rather than helping to close a sale, I’m going to teach you how to open a relationship with your customers,” he said during a Zoom kick-off call with champions.