CPG Team Management

How to Hire a Rock-Star Merchandising Team

How to Hire a Rock-Star Merchandising Team

The perfect display can boost sales by more than 500%, according to Creativity Window. With that much at stake, hiring top-notch merchandisers should be one of your brands highest priorities. Hiring merchandisers can be tricky, however. The most successful merchandising candidates have a range of specific traits - and once you’ve found the perfect person, how do you get them to join your team? Here some tips to help you build the perfect merchandising team: 

Qualities of Successful Merchandisers

Communication Is Key
Effective communicators make the most successful merchandisers. Working in the field away from managers poses a significant communication barrier. Merchandising managers are therefore hard-pressed to find applicants that are proactive when it comes to communicating with management.

Merchandisers have plenty of methods of communication at their disposal, but knowing which method is appropriate in each situation is what differentiates successful reps from the rest. For example, sensitive news, like cancelled contracts, may require in-person conversations or phone calls, according to Fortune. Talking in person or over the phone allows for the understanding of inflections and tone of voice, which is important when dealing with sensitive topics.

Time Management  
Successful merchandisers are excellent time managers. As new merchandisers will learn, some clients require more maintenance than others, and therefore should get the most amount of time allotted in reps’ schedules. Excellent time managers will be able to adjust to the demands of clients, and rearrange their schedules to meet those demands without impacting the rest of their day.

Most people believe that multitasking is an effective way to manage their time, but the truth is juggling several tasks at a time can actually hinder performance.

People cannot actually do two things at once; they’re really just quickly switching between tasks,” said Andrew Quinn, Director of Training and Development at HubSpot. “And that switching dilutes focus and slows people down because their brains have to adjust to each task.” Therefore, it’s critical to hire merchandisers with experience managing a hectic schedule.

How to Hire the Perfect Merchandising Team

Targeted Recruiting

When it comes to evaluating merchandising candidates on their communication skills, no time is better than the interview. When interviewing candidates, ask comparative questions, then note their response style and body language. Ask comparative questions to get a sense for the candidate’s knowledge of merchandising and his or her communication skills. Comparative questions are questions that require answers in which items are compared or provide judgement, and where there no right or wrong answer. For example, “what is more important for your team: teamwork or competitiveness?”

When answering questions, strong communicators often respond in an assertive tone, characterized by respectfulness, honesty, and clarity. A candidate’s body language will also hint at their communication skills, considering 55% of a message's impact is from nonverbal communication, according to The New York Times.

To determine a candidate’s time management ability, try using interview questions like these:

  • How do you manage your tasks when someone else is late and prevents you from accomplishing them?
  • How do you determine priorities in scheduling your tasks?
  • How do you determine the amount of time reasonable for a task?

Optimize Onboarding

Once you have targeted and hired the perfect merchandisers, it is important to keep them interested in the job. New employees typically decide whether or not they’ll stay at a company long-term within just six months, Entrepreneur reported. Due to the speed with which employees make this decision, it is especially important to optimize the onboarding process.

Ask current employees for feedback on their onboarding experience, highlighting the components that were useful as well as the components that weren’t effective. Even with the feedback from your current employees, it is hard to perfect your onboarding process, so collect continuous feedback from new hires to keep improving.


Tips for Training New Visual Merchandising Hires

Mentorship Programs

An integral part of the onboarding process is effectively training the new hires. Training serves many purposes, including building a more informed and confident workforce, as well as better retaining those new hires. Mentorship programs are a tried and true way of bringing new employees up to speed.

In one Gartner study, a company retained 23% more employees after enrolling them in a mentorship program. Enrolling employees in a mentorship program will dramatically reduce the amount of money spent on recruiting, and will make sure your training efforts don’t go to waste.

Mentoring programs provide mentees with a primary contact for their questions and concerns. These programs also help to develop the mentor's leadership skills. Any time a new employee can learn from more experienced employees will ensure that they are well equipped to handle the real problems they will face in the field.

Ride Alongs/ Shadowing

Shadowing is one of the most effective training tools for field merchandisers. Shadowing is when a new hire rides along with an experienced field merchandiser, visiting clients and observing interactions alongside him or her. This allows new hires to observe what it is like to be out in the field, and it exposes them to some challenges they may face in the future. At the start of ride-along visits, be sure to introduce clients to the new employee. That way you can reduce any confusion for your clients and empower them to take part in the education process.

Hiring the right merchandisers starts with identifying the qualities of successful merchandisers already in your company, then using these qualities to target your recruiting and to optimize the onboarding process. Lastly, make sure to effectively train the new hires with ride alongs and mentors to assure they stay a part of your merchandising team.  

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Tyler Hubbell

Tyler Hubbell is a content marketing specialist at Repsly. His expertise is in creating useful content related to customer satisfaction and building relationships. Tyler enjoys golfing and reading.

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