April 01, 2017
April 01, 2017
When I was working with a retailer a few years ago, I observed a new hire as he was brought into the back office. He was escorted to an old Dell computer and handed a stack of DVDs. “Watch these and when you’re finished come find me; you’re trained.”
The employee dutifully put the DVD marked First into the slot, clicked, and as the DVD began to load, he dutifully pulled his smartphone out of his pocket. While the earnest training video continued for nearly twenty minutes, the employee didn’t look up once.
Training clearly was something to get through but not something to be taken seriously.
That’s when I knew I had to come up with a system that could truly change the behavior of employees.
For too long retailers have given lip-service to training. They have dusty manuals on shelves, or they might have purchased a DVD of some guy’s feel good training to value every customer as a guest. They might even have a dedicated trainer on staff.
But until there is proof the learner has actually learned the step-by-step process of the training and agreed to use it, what good is any of that?
Technical training is like you wanting to carve a radish into a rose for a special dinner. You do a search on the web, find the video, and watch it. Once you understand how to do it, you’re done.
This is what most retailers have staked their life on - teaching product knowledge.
The problem is any training brands can give their employees is most likely on the web as well. So your employee knows the story behind your moonwatch, how many ounces of gold is used in your ruby earrings, or the eco-friendly methods used to produce your couch. And once learned, he doesn’t need it or want it to be repeated.
But frankly until he learns the soft skills of how to engage a stranger, he’ll never be able to fully use that technical training because customers won’t let him in enough to get to that point in a sale.
Behavioral training is like learning how to play the piano, ride a bike, or throw a ball. You can understand the notes in a D major scale, but just knowing where the sharps are doesn’t do much good until it is practiced over and over and becomes second-nature.
You can describe to your son all it takes to ride a bike, but until he gets the practice of finding his balance, he won’t be ready for the Tour de France or much else besides suffering a lot of scrapes on his knees.
So it is too with a sales training program.
There’s very little someone can’t understand immediately. There’s nothing shocking in any part of a retail sales training program. It’s not like you are telling them, “The moon is really made of Velveeta cheese and you’re going to learn to fly to it today.”
Instead, the basic principles in retail sales training makes perfect sense. But just understanding it won’t move the needle toward higher sales...
Unless and until you practice the training until you can’t do it wrong.
That’s where certifications come in. Certification is proof that the person who took the training understands it and will be bound by it.
No employee can get a certification just from watching a video; the learner has to be engaged. That’s why all of my online retail sales training is interactive.
Each of my seventy 3-5 minute lessons covers a specific part of the sales process like the right words to greet a customer or the way to build rapport.
Along the way, I ask various question to keep the learner engaged. And they have to answer each of the questions or the program stops and waits for them. In this way, every learner takes a slightly different path to get to the same result.
At the end of each lesson is a quick test they have to pass at 100% or repeat the lesson.
It isn’t designed as anything punitive - it is strictly to make sure the mind is engaged to learn. Video is by nature passive and the mind gets lazy.
By asking questions, the mind has to access and consider new information. That builds neural pathways to new learning.
A final sales certification screen comes up after every main course in SalesRX. It says, “I have taken all the tests successfully, all my questions have been answered, and I will use the information I have learned on the salesfloor.” It asks, Yes or No.
If the learner chooses yes, they can print out a certificate which goes in their employee file. If they choose no, I come back on again to let them know they can only finish by clicking that yes button.
When they do, the manager or owner now has a record the learner knows what is expected of them. Do you know how much easier that is to manage should they not do it?
Once you get all your employees on the same page, it is much easier to coach and reward them for doing a good job.
Certified employees have helped thousands of retailers across the globe sell more even with lower foot traffic because they understood exactly how to create an exceptional experience.
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