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 product knowledge trainings. 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 training timeslots and the showroom’s salespeople will gladly attend ready to learn.

A version of this article appeared in the March issue of Supply House Times.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Team Building: How You Open Dictates Where You Will Finish

Every morning, do your teams come to work ready to perform their creative best? Do they have a game plan in mind?

This morning each team member is gearing up for the day ahead. Some of the sales team are passionately ready to go, others are busy chatting away while others are deeply engrossed on one of their screens. Every person has their morning ritual, but does it really prepare them for the day ahead? How about adding a quick morning meeting designed to start the day and help each team member focus on what they will accomplish?

Before outlining our rousing morning agenda, let’s look at some brain research.

Really smart people have proven that small daily wins offer our brains similar rewards to winning a six-figure bid. It’s also said that any defeat is twice as powerful as any win. Yes, people can land a good quote in the morning, then have their day trashed by an ultra-picky complaint from a customer. The sooner you can talk out the negative incident and celebrate the win, the better your team members will feel. Plus, this venting will free their mind to create a positive focus for the day ahead. People are so much more creative when they are in a positive frame of mind.

“But it isn’t just the person who shows up to tell their story most often who wins. It’s the person who has the patience and empathy to understand the story they tell must serve the people they want to matter to.”  – Bernadette Jiwa from The Story of Telling

It takes a clear, attentive mind to comprehend and process a customer as they describe their vision for their dream room. A brief, focused meeting every morning will help alleviate lingering negative feelings, celebrate the positive and get the team primed for the day ahead.

“Positive feedback is a signal to the brain to do more of something. When we acknowledge, we highlight the behaviors we want to see more of, and at the same time, we build the other person’s confidence and certainty around what they are doing well.” – David Rock, founder of the Neuroleadership Institute

There are many ways to organize these meetings. One simple way is to first ask each team member individually to share one negative thing that stands out from yesterday (or their last shift). Once all have processed their individual bad juju, ask each member for a positive event from the day. Now you have replaced any negative feelings with positive ones. To kick off the day, ask each person for one task they want to accomplish today. Simple and quick. Now they all are leaning more positive and focused on the opportunity-rich day ahead.

These start-the-day meetings also offer managers quality insight into each member of their team, as well as what is happening in their department. Take the time to note who needs an individual attaboy, who deserves a big high-five for a good effort, or who might need help on a large project.

Everyone will start the day having vented and been applauded. Not a bad way to prepare your team to be at its creative best for the day ahead.

A version of this article was included in DPHA’s newsletter Connections.

Vendors, May We Please Improve Training

The quality of training in the showroom business is all over the place. Training is not like selling; they are two distinct talents.  A few companies create solid content but have not trained their trainers on how to train (say that fast three times). 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 looks forward to product knowledge training sessions.  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 pts. and no presentation should be longer than 30 minutes.  In a perfect environment our minds can only stay focused for a maximum of 20 minutes. So build a solid 20 minute presentation and leave 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 or 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, everyone is 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 help all stay attentive throughout.
  • Do share actual product samples…LOTS of samples.  It is proven that if people have product in their hands they will remain engaged.
  • If offering food, save it for AFTER the training.  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 sales people 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 that was trained by the brake manufacturer’s local salesperson?  Then why do you ask talented salespeople to educate the salespeople that sell your brand’s story to design and building professionals?  

If your training content and presentation are solid, you’ll always get the best product knowledge training time slot and the showrooms salespeople will gladly attend ready to learn.

A version of this article appeared in the February Issue of Supply House Times