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3 Ways to Improve Your Training

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.

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

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Will VR Solve the Learning Riddle?

Imagine you are a new employee in the industry where your success depends on memorization of multiple processes and scripts.  You have never done this type of work before and now have a monumental task in front of you to memorize pages upon pages of different conversation scenarios.  If you are in the industry that relies heavily on face to face sales you might be able to relate to this.  Now imagine you were given this task and were told you need to practice and then role-play in-front of your sales coach or worse yet, in-front of a group of your peers.  Oh, you forgot about role-play?  Sorry to remind you about this form of public speaking.  Just like speaking in front of a crowd, there are very few people out there, who feel comfortable being publicly humiliated in front of their peers.

Often times simple script memorization can be a difficult task.  Add variables into any script and it becomes extremely difficult to learn fast.  Additionally, most sales positions rely on the speed of the conversation and if one has not practiced it thoroughly, they tend to be left with one very expensive option – practice on their customers.  The lack of achieving rapid success in sales is one of the main reasons most don’t succeed in that field.  These multiple challenges add to the dilemma for most organizations with sales staff.  The answer to this learning riddle may be found in the new and emerging technologies, specifically, Virtual and Augmented Realities platforms.

In my 2500+ platform hours of doing training, I found that people memorize and retain information differently.  Everyone, learns at their own individual pace.  Additionally, three things are for sure, majority have a difficult time memorizing scripts, do not enjoy role-play activities and struggle with practicing new conversations.  Since most scripts involve conversations, practicing with another person is crucial in order to create a real-life environment, receive a feedback and the verification of information learned.  Other questions also arise.  Who will spend time with a new associate to help them learn new information?  What is the schedule look like for them to attend training?  In many cases, managers are too busy managing sales activities and have limited time to invest into successful training program for new employee.  Corporate or outside trainers can help, but their formal training programs are only available at certain times.  Online training can be available on-demand, yet it rarely represent an opportunity to role-play or practice.  This is where VR technology can be a great solution.

During the last couple of years, VR technology is making its ways into consumer world.  Early applications were video games and movies.  With a “whole-body” activities VR can replicate certain tasks that lead to skills that might be harder to acquire otherwise.  After significant research, Science Direct suggests that these activities “lead to significant learning gains and  higher levels of engagements”.   University of California study reports that “…people learned more in the immersive virtual reality system than in the 2D video system.”  When it comes to measuring accuracy of skills, Yale University medical study highlights “gallbladder dissection was 29% faster for VR-trained residents.  Non-VR-trained residents were nine times more likely to transiently fail to make progress and five times more likely to injure the gallbladder.”  When it comes to “reality” of a virtual reality for soft skills, a study from University of London, concluded that subjects of their study experienced the same public speaking phobia when they spoke to live or virtual audiences concluding, “the result was strong in spite of the relatively low fidelity of the virtual characters.”   Based on these studies and reports it does not take a strong leap of faith to see how VR can be a game changer when learning new sales skills.  But, is there such a thing?

There is a group of young developers in Europe, who recognized the potential of VR learning platform.  Specifically its impact on creating a learning environment and facilitating faster learning.  To date they created a prototype of VR Learning Platform.  This VR setting creates a realistic sales environment that in essence becomes a sales “batting cage” for an employee to gain confidence through unlimited on-demand sales skills practice opportunities.  Various customer scenarios are designed to simulate real-life sales situations to provide a healthy dose of reality in a virtual world.  The gamified sales world also allows participants to record interactions with their virtual customers and share those results with managers or sales coaches.  The virtual role-play aimed to raise confidence and develop or improve sales skills regardless of participant’s skill level.  With consumer version on the way, its application in any sales environment will be a true gamification of learning.  The question is will sales industries be open to adapting this new technology into their training strategy?  In a recent survey sales professionals were asked if they would “take advantage of on-demand training through new technologies like VR” – 82.7% of respondents said “yes”.  This may not be an indication that VR will be massively adapted by entire industries, but one thing is for sure, there will be many early adapters.

Each and every day technology is changing the way we do life.  The day is coming, when using VR sales “batting cage” will be the easiest way to tackle new hire’s fear of role-play, helping them learn multiple scripted conversations and make interactive learning available to them on their schedule.

by Tony Troussov

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Take Control of Your Activities!

The “time management” concept has been around for a very long time. There are deluge of books, seminars and podcasts regarding this subject. Someone once said, “You cannot manage time”. Without getting into semantics, this point is correct – time cannot be controlled. Instead, what you can control are the activities you perform at any given time. In sales your world can be a chaotic. There are multiple interruptions that can distract you from your goal. Here are four principles that will help you stay focused on your activities to produce better results – awareness, choice, discipline and commitment.

Awareness. Have you ever been in a sales situation and totally missed it? You were going through your process and were totally unaware that your potential client checked out. Now, think about the time you were physically lost because you were distracted and took a wrong turn. What made that feeling worse is you weren’t sure which direction you needed to travel to get to your destination. In today’s business environment you can easily get distracted by someone’s text or some form of notification on your phone. Taking action is imperative to achieving your goals. The awareness of what is going on around you is the first step in helping you identify the actions you need to take to influence results. To find your way out of the woods you need to stop, assess the situation and become aware of which direction to travel, only then can you move forward. Oftentimes solutions and steps are in plain view but you are unable to identify them because you are unaware that these solutions or steps are possible. To become aware of the right direction, learn to ask the right questions. To help you focus ask yourself, “Does what I’m doing right now get me closer to my goal?” To identify solutions ask yourself, “What is possible?” When you slow down to think about it you become much more aware of solutions your mind brings forward. When you become aware of these options it is time to make a choice.

Choice. This is America! The great thing about your life both personal and business – you have choices. When you realize this it takes a lot of pressure off your shoulders. With that being said, you still have to choose wisely. Just because you can do something does not mean it is a good move to make. This seems pretty obvious, but let’s face it, we all have made some stupid moves in the past, or as Larry Winget said “your success is your own fault.” Think about your favorite team missing a winning field goal and ending up with a big “L”. You wish they could do it again and make it right, but the game is over. In business, like in sports, there are no “do-overs”. Make a mistake and it could cost you a deal. In most cases you cannot recover. The speed of the game kills perfection. When it comes to choosing the right activities for the day, you want to make sure you choose the ones that will bring you the most results and get you closer to the goals you set. Once you make those activity choices it is time to become disciplined in your approach.

Discipline. Ever heard of New Year’s resolutions? Ever made one? How long did it last? The problem was not with a decision or choice you made, the problem was with the lack of discipline on your part. Great intentions fail without discipline. Whether it’s a physical exercise, dieting or business activities, they are all short lived without discipline. The meaning of the word discipline is “control gained by enforcing obedience”. We all hate “micro-management”, yet without self-enforced micro-management you are bound to fail. Discipline is sticking to the activities you chose and being obedient to your own rules. As rudimentary as it is, this is one of the most difficult things to master. The problem with most sales people who fail in business is the lack of discipline to stay committed to their process.

Commitment. When you become aware of your choices and choose activities that get you closer to your goals, you then focus on developing a disciplined approach that will ensure long term success. Discipline goes hand in hand with your commitment to your own success. The actions you take every single day and your commitment to executing them in a disciplined manner will ensure you will reach your goals no matter how long it takes. Unfortunately, some people lose commitment to their success. This self-sabotaging behavior will slow down your growth in business. Part of the reason why people become non-committal to their activities is lack of immediate results. It’s true with physical activities and it’s true in business. It is like the commercial that shows a man in a gym running a quick lap and then getting on a scale to see if he lost weight. Of course you can easily get frustrated with activities that don’t bring instant results. Remember this though, discipline and commitment imply long-term. In this “instant gratification” world it is hard to be patient for results. Some sales happen fast and some take weeks, months and even years to close. Whatever the time frame you are working with, you cannot afford to compromise on your disciplined activities.

In order to take control of your activities and generate better results for you and your team, think AC/DC – Awareness Choice/Discipline Commitment.

by Tony Troussov