Jeff Valles: Vendors: May we please improve training?
The training quality in our decorative showroom business is all over the place.
A few companies create solid content, but have not trained their trainers on how to train (Say that fast three times!). Selling is not like training. They are two distinct talents. Would you let a school teacher sell your portfolio? Other vendors weakly educate the local representative and tell them to go forth and educate all involved. They send them in with catalogs and some samples.
Really, is that how a brand should be presented? Here are some notes:
- No one likes PKs. Showroom salespeople are extremely busy and do not want to give up the time during the day. Also, no one wants to come in early or stay late.
- Abide by the venture-capital-pitch 30/30 rule. No font should be smaller than 30-point, and no presentation should be longer than 30 minutes. Our minds can only stay focused in a perfect environment for a maximum of 20 minutes. So build a solid 20-minute presentation and have time for questions. Do not overreach! You will not gain a thing. In fact, you will lose what you gained in the first 20 minutes.
- Do not train on a product that is not yet on display and ready to ship. The salespeople will forget all the information by the time you are ready to receive orders, even if it is just a week away.
- Beta-test your training content in the field. Present your new training program to a few local showrooms, then note and implement the feedback.
- Train your own customer service team first. Present the training draft to them first and gain their feedback. Then, when a showroom salesperson calls with a question that references the training, all are on the same page.
- Do not hand out any reading material during the presentation. You want the trainees to look at the presenter, not at a price book.
- Recap, ask questions and offer rewards during the 20-minute training. Questions keep them engaged, and rewards make all stay engaged.
- Do share samples; A LOT of samples. It is proven if people have product in their hands they will remain engaged.
- Feed them AFTER the session. If they have food during the session, they will focus on that.
- Finally, if you really want to do it right, hire a 100% full-time trainer. As we noted above, your talented salespeople and representatives are not always adequate trainers.
Do you really want to get into an automobile with new brakes that were installed by a mechanic who was trained by the brake manufacturer’s local salesperson? Then why do you ask talented salespeople to educate the salespeople who sell your brand’s story to design and building professionals?
If your training content and presentation are solid, you’ll always get the best PK timeslot and the showroom’s salespeople will gladly attend ready to learn.