In a recent survey of sales people 95.4% of respondents indicated that training plays a big part in their career development, however, 18.4% of them said that it never happens in their dealership. Oh, dealership do meetings, but most them are housekeeping ones. Managers want to make sure trade-ins are parked, lost keys are found and appointments are set for that day. In some rare cases they throw few motivational items into the mix. Hey, everyone needs a little motivation every now and then, and there is nothing wrong with housekeeping items. Yet what sales people need the most from their managers/coaches is skills development training. Think about it, if you make your sales force better your life will be easier and you might have to pay more taxes as a result of it. Here are three things you can do to improve your training offering.
- Get it on the calendar. Most dealerships view training as an event. At best training is a once per month activity. Look at your current approach. Are you placing too much emphasis on housekeeping or product knowledge related meetings? If the answer is yes, it is time to prioritize your training, by getting it on the calendar. You must schedule it. Nothing will happen unless you commit to actually doing it, and calendar is the first thing you must address. Your people love consistency, make sure to isolate time specifically for their sales skills training. Ideally, it should happen daily, first thing in the morning. Do not fool yourself by scheduling it later in the day. It will rarely happen and your people will lose interest. I’ve seen too many good intentions of making sure the second shift participates in training, fail. There are a lot of distractions during the day, so go ahead and schedule it in the morning. If, for whatever reason you cannot do it daily, to insure everyone participates schedule it at least two to three times per week. Commit to cover only sales skills training during that time.
- Get Prepared. Because most of the retail people are always distracted it is hard for them to… squirrel. Life in retail is busy and at times unpredictable. That does not mean you cannot take time to prepare for your scheduled training meeting. To avoid the big flop, establish the topic and the flow of your training few days in advance, or at least a night before. Since most sales managers are good sales people, they think they can wing it without giving much thought, preparation or let alone practice. Decide upfront what do you want the end result of your training to be. What is one thing you want your people to do different or better as a result of it? Then work from that point. If you cannot design a curriculum, use someone else’s. The goal is to be prepared. Utilize handouts and encourage note taking to improve retention. Finally, practice your opening and closing statements. Those would be most impactful and memorable for your people.
- Keep it short. In a recent research, neuroscientists found that our brains retain information better if it is delivered to us in short bursts, preferably in 15 to 20 minutes. With all the moving parts in the dealership you want employees to be actively involved during training. This is why keeping your sessions short will be a huge win. They will like the time frame and retain information better. The flow of your meeting could be something like this – opening/intro statement (1 minute), training content (8 minutes), practice/role-play/Q&A (5 minutes), closing statement (1 minute). This is your 15 minute meeting. Keep things simple and stick to the format you decide to utilize. To keep it short there are a couple of things to keep in mind, don’t allow people to hijack the meeting, no negativity – this is a learning environment, problems and concerns need to be addressed in a different format.
No matter how tenured your staff, they all want to do better. This is why they are capable of so much more than what they are producing now. Your job as a manager is to focus on their capabilities development and it starts with your commitment to training. To improve your training offering, commit to scheduled training sessions and prepare to deliver a solid content in a short and organized manner. Remember, their success equals yours.
by Tony Troussov