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The Art of Selling – Retail High Flyer Shares Secrets to Success

by fatweb

AT118-60
 
Achieving success at a young age is not an easy feat, no matter where you start in life. Getting onto the career ladder was the first hurdle of many for Elena Baker, a successful Auckland business leader.
Born in Saratov, a large city in the south east of Russia, Elena didn’t have your typical start in life. She was adopted from a Russian orphanage when she was five years old. After 12 years living in Australia, she moved to New Zealand when she was 17, with only her high school certificate and limited retail experience to her name.
With hard work, determination and a willingness to learn from her mistakes, at 27 years old she now holds a senior management role as retail manager for one of the world’s largest duty free retailers, ARI which operates The Loop Duty Free at Auckland Airport. Below she shares her secrets to success in a demanding business environment.
Elena Baker’s secrets to success
Duty Free retailing is a 24/7 operation in a very busy environment with a broad demographic of local and international customers. You need to be quite adaptable and hands on.
In my role I manage, coach and develop around 220 sales staff. My position involves shift work, which I enjoy along with the buzz of the retail environment in Auckland Airport what has become one of Australasia’s busiest travel hubs.
My team work across a diverse duty free product range which includes some of the top beauty brands in the world and one of the largest selection of wine and spirits in the Southern Hemisphere.
Ensuring staff are kept motivated, happy and upskilled can be challenging in such a fast paced environment, but this challenge is what gets me out of bed in the morning!
I try to take a big picture approach in my day to day decision making. Although we have 220 staff, I remember that each staff member has a family and I am careful to consider this. I think that can be one of the hardest parts in management; how do you get the best out of people when challenges crop up, while ensuring you still make the best decision for the business?
It’s a big responsibility and it is serious stuff. When you have the responsibility of someone’s wellbeing, you want them to love work, because people who love work deliver great results and then go home with smiles on their faces and engage with their family and that’s what it’s about.
For people who don’t like their work, it not only impacts their performance, but it’s also going to influence their family in negative ways. That’s the difficult part because sometimes you have to make the calls that aren’t going to please everyone, but it is critical in ensuring your businesses success. As a manager you have to be confident enough to make those calls.
Whilst I have learnt many valuable lessons to date in my career, there are three management tips that I try to live by and would encourage others, whether in managerial positions or small business owners to consider:
1. Be a coach/mentor and motivate your staff and others to reach their personal potential, whatever that might be
We all know that leading by example is important, but as a manager, really getting stuck in and actually doing it makes all the difference. Realise that you and your staff are not largely different from one another.
One technique I use is to spend time on the shop floor as a sales person, often challenging staff with friendly competitions to outsell me. This is an opportunity for them to learn and for me as a manager to see how they are developing personally.
Recognising staff who are dedicated and acknowledging
their growth and development within the company is a real motivator, not just for individuals, but for the whole team if handled appropriately.
2. No one comes to work to fail. Everyone wants to succeed. Encourage your team to take risks and learn from their mistakes in a safe and supportive environment
Find out what your staff are good at and what they want to achieve. Everybody’s human so we all make mistakes, but in my experience business learning comes from owning our mistakes and gaining knowledge and helping your entire team learn from the experience. If employees can face difficulties and turn them into positive experiences, they are much more likely to succeed in the long run.
3. Be a listener, rather than a talker
This might sound basic, but it is so often overlooked. Build relationships with staff and be a team player regardless of your position. Communication is key; don’t only talk at your staff, but have two way, equal communication.
Allow staff to have their voices heard and take time to listen to them. Never forget that people can influence the bottom line dramatically if they are led by the right leadership – people are the key to a successful business.

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