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  • Writer's pictureStuart Silverman

Closing the Associate Behaviors Gap (ABG)

Retail leaders know how they want their store associates to interact with their customers. They invest considerable time and effort in teaching, training, observing and coaching their store associates to follow those sales processes.

But how frequently do store associates actually practice those behaviors? How big is the gap between desired and actual associate behaviors? 10%? 20%? 50%?

We call that gap the Associate Behaviors Gap (ABG). It’s a new metric that can be an excellent indicator of the customer experience delivered by sales associates.

Surveys of store leaders show that if store associates apply retailers’ best practice sales process more consistently, sales would rise 5% - 15%!

We call the process of getting store associates to follow a retailer’s best practice sales processes more consistently “closing the Associate Behaviors Gap.”

Case Study: Closing the Associate Behaviors Gap

At becco, we conducted a project with a well-known cosmetics retailer. We measured whether store associates exhibited six brand specific sales behaviors <see chart>. After 4 months, the percent of associates exhibiting the recommended sales behaviors rose from 41% to 53% - closing the Associate Behavior Gap by 12% <note red dotted line on chart>.

The most significant improvement was in the metric “Discussed skincare”, a key value that this retailer wants to be known for. That metric rose from 29% - meaning that 29% of the time associates dicussed skincare with their customers – to 50%! <note gray line on chart> And while closing the gap by 21% was significant, they still have opportunity for further growth.

What gets measured, gets managed

Measuring these behavior metrics highlighted which associates followed the behaviors and when.

  • Some associates wondered why they were being measured on some of the behavior metrics. They didn’t understand that those behaviors were important or why.

  • Some associates had gotten mixed messages about what actions were important. They weren’t in line with the current thinking.

  • Some associates felt uncomfortable about performing some of the sales processes.

Reviewing the behavior measurements with associates provided the opportunity for store leaders to have substantive conversations with store associates about how to improve their performance.

Three main benefits arose

  • Store leaders and associates gained a way to be in synch on the most important behaviors to follow in order to advance the business

  • Store leaders could focus their training and coaching efforts on the most important skill improvements needed by specific associates

  • Store associates felt more valued as they received regular and timely feedback on how to improve their interactions with customers.

How to close the Associate Behaviors Gap at your stores

The key to closing the Associate Behaviors Gap is being able to measure the behaviors of store associates at volume on an ongoing basis. And then reviewing the metrics with store leaders and store associates to identify where the opportunities for improvement lie.

The team at becco have developed all new processes and applications to support this process. To find out more about how closing the Associate Behaviors Gap would work in your stores, send me a note at and we'll schedule a time to talk.

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