I have been a retail trainer for over 25 years and probably trained in excess of 10,000 people personally in those years. I look back with huge embarrassment on my first two years as a trainer, as I really didn’t know what I was doing, let alone be effective. It was a classic case of you don’t know what you don’t know and I was truly guilty of that.
Having not been a teacher or even thinking it would be good to do a train the trainer course before becoming a training manager, I dished up some horrible training content. I did my best to make it interactive and fun but when the content and training process is bad, nothing can save it.
Lucky for me, I met a fabulous training mentor, Craig, 24 years ago, who literally changed my life and I ended up choosing a full-time training role as a career move. I haven’t looked back since.
What I learned back then is still with me today on why some training works and other training doesn’t – here are my top four tips:
1) Make all content relevant, so participants can easily work out how they can apply what they learned in their workplace. If participants have to spend time working out how to apply the content in their workplace, you’ve lost them. That’s the biggest issue with books and videos, the reader/viewer has to work out how to best apply the information and examples provided.
We work really hard before we provide any training for our clients on learning their service and sales processes. This usually involves spending time in stores talking to store managers and observing customer interactions which enable us to tailor the training to their exact requirements.
2) Training has to be fun and interactive. Powerpoint has often spelled the death of many training courses. Most retailers we train spend so little time sitting down during their working day, how can we then expect them to learn by just watching a series of slides? This was one of my major learning points as a new trainer, you have to get participants involved in the learning process.
We use fun activities to reinforce key learning points. Participants love them and they have a huge impact. People learn best when they are involved and having fun.
3) Senior management has to buy in and be involved. This sends such a powerful message to store managers and their teams if senior management is involved. They also get to see what their teams are learning and understand some of the challenges their team will face back in the store.
Every time we have senior management involvement, the uptake of the training is much higher and this converts to better buy in at the frontline.
4) Training is just the start, the real work happens when participants leave. As training is all about getting participants to change various behaviours, learning is the first step. When participants return to their store and put in place what they have learned, that’s when training has been successful. However, training needs to be followed up back in the store and this follows up needs to continue on an ongoing basis.
Because of point 3) above, we insist that at the very least Area/Regional managers are fully involved in the training process. They need to attend the training and we spend time with them afterward, back in stores, helping them to follow up with their managers. By providing additional training to these key people, this ensures store managers and their team are supported in making positive changes on an ongoing basis.
I hope these four points help to better improve your training processes as I’m passionate that the right training will help to make a massive difference to our valuable customers. And that’s what retail is all about.
Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.