Posts Tagged 'profits'

Training On The Job

The busier you are, the tougher to schedule pure ‘training time’.  For years, I’ve encouraged the use of ‘small bite’ training in the form of Monday morning meetings or, as they are known in landscaping, ‘tail gate’ sessions. 


To really change behavior, your training technique must be more than effective in the classroom; it must easy to use on the job.  Recently, working in the field with a new hire, I was reminded of the necessity to ‘teach not tell’.  As I attempted to explain what seemed like a simple task, I recognized the unmistakable stare of a new employee who had no experience and didn’t really get my message.  In a hurry, I repeated the message… “Just do it the way I told you to,” I repeated.  For the second time, the new person failed to properly perform the task.  While it might seem obvious, I realized that I had forgotten a cardinal training rule… “Teach don’t tell”.  I had not taken time to DEMONSTRATE the expected performance and relied on words to communicate.


Every now and again, I have to remind myself that we are visual learners.  Experts have shown that as much as 85% of our knowledge is gained visually, while only about seven or eight percent comes through the spoken word.  In sales training sessions, I have often taught learners that “words create pictures” and that communicating on the phone requires the effective use of language and speaking skills.  But there is no question that SHOWING BEATS TELLING every time.


Here is a simple process you can use to train effectively; I call it the “AC/DC” process. 

  1. ACTIVITY performed.  Assuming the trainee has received proper advance instruction, have the trainee perform the task or “activity”.
  1. CRITIQUE.  Observe the action, reinforce proper procedure, identify any changes needed.
  2. DEMONSTRATE.  Perform the proper procedure for the trainee.  Show, don’t just tell!
  1. CRITIQUE.  Again, observe and critique.  Be sure you reinforce proper procedures…explain and demonstrate any corrections indicated.


That’s it…AC/DC!  A training/coaching process that’s easy to remember, easy to use.


Just a note about the critique: It’s important to let the trainee know what he/she is doing right!  If you are talking only about what it wrong, the message is “you are a loser”.  Complimenting satisfactory performance is important to keep the message positive.  Remember, when a trainee feels they are making steady progress, they will be motivated to continue learning.  That, of course, is the objective.


Finally, readers may know by now that my view of the trainer’s responsibility is that we trainer’s are responsible to not only teach job skills but to help ensure that employees are willing and able to execute what they have learned…and do so consistently. In a later post, we’ll explore training techniques that will help get your crew through the busiest months of your business season.  But why wait?  Start thinking now about the need to plan and show your concern for the physical and emotional condition of your team members.










Selling in Tough Economic Times

I’ve been selling and training sales reps most of my adult life.  I’ve succeeded and I’ve failed. Importantly, I’ve learned.


In difficult economic times, when the media saturates the airwaves with warnings that the sky will surely fall, and doom and gloom are our future, selling gets even tougher.  That is, unless you understand HOW to sell in what buyers want. Good luck!


I’m old enough, been around long enough to have trained sales reps during the 1987 recession.  Then, as now, albeit with less media frenzy, the word was out…you can’t sell during a recession!  At my company, we forged ahead.  We fine tuned the process, worked real hard on fundamentals and focused on communicating to our prospects, what we had that made sense no matter the economic conditions.


Bottom line, there are some things people need in tough and good times; things they will buy anytime, all the time.  Food, booze and some sort of self-gratifying leisure fulfillment are all on the list.


Something else that makes good sense to the buying public is an investment in their number one asset, their home.  Having spent considerable time in the home services business, including the 87 recession, I learned how to sell right into the economic ‘bounce’ that follows every downturn.  We learned to sell value.


Hear me out; selling value is not a vague process. While the word, value, needs definition, when defined in terms of your product or service offering, and effectively communicated to logical prospective buyers, it sells!


In my training role, the job was clear…help define our company’s value proposition and teach our sales people to communicate it professionally and effectively.  Did I say sales people…my bad. I taught everyone on our staff why we were a great investment.  Unless you don’t care what your employees think about you and your business, and unless you believe they will never talk to a customer or prospect, better teach everyone how to communicate your unique benefits to the buying public.


This year, in my training/consulting work, it’s already started.  My phone is ringing now..and the caller will be in panic mode.  What I’ll hear is “How am I going to grow in this economy?”  Right behind the sales question will be “How am I going to keep my customers, to insure repeat business?”


The answer to both questions is to focus your sales and customer service process management, as well as your staff training on communicating value, your unique value to the customer. If you can, you’ll be fine. If not, it’s going to be a long, cold winter.  Let me know if you need some help.