This year I am leading my sales staff to water. Fortunately, they are not horses. They are drinking it up.
At our monthly team meeting I am breaking down the sales process into small, drinkable chunks.
In February we talked about Being Accessible. Customers don't like to approach a crowd of employees, especially ones engaged in chatter. We talked about positioning, where to stand to be most approachable, how not to congregate. We walked around the store with a clipboard in hand. Customers would rather approach a sales associate who seems engaged in other activities, than one who seems poised to pounce. The goal for the staff was to practice being more accessible.
In March we Listened. Too many people listen, not to hear, but to find a moment to break into the conversation. We did activities centered around Listening skills including repeating back what the other person said. The staff separated into pairs and shared with each other their favorite reasons for working here. Then the other person had to repeat it back to them and present it to the group. (Note: this is also a great way to boost morale. I have twelve team members and each one had someone else tell the group why they like working here.) Our customers do not come in for a product so much as for a solution. If you don't listen to the whole problem, you might sell them a product, but not the best solution. The goal for the month was to practice repeating back to the customer what she said.
Tomorrow we go inside Our Customer's Mind. We'll be exploring all the thoughts that may be going through a customer's mind while she is in our store. Empathy is one of the strongest tools for creating long-term relationships. The purpose is to get an understanding of where she is so that we can relate to her on her terms. Each customer is unique and is coming from a unique point of view. Knowing this helps my staff understand the importance of Listening even more, and helps them fashion better questions. Our goal will be to empathize more with our customers and continue improving our listening (and questioning) skills.
I'm already working on May (Suggestive Selling) and June (Closing the Sale), too.
Too many companies look at training as a One-and-Done thing. Train the new person. Send them out. They're good to go. I think we have to constantly be training. We have to constantly be trying to learn and improve. And we don't have to be in a hurry. One step at at time.
Roy H. Williams once told me that what successful individuals and companies have in common is a long horizon. They look well beyond this week, month or even year. Not only am I planning out the training for this year, I'm already formulating my thoughts for next year's theme.
If you're in this for the long run, you need to make sure you're planning out your training for the long run, too.
PS Send me an email and I'd be happy to share the activities we are doing to get these lessons across. If you want to plan your own meetings, I suggest you read Staff Meetings Everyone Wants to Attend (free download) and use the Staff Meetings Worksheet.