Episode 1: The Daunting Task of Training New Hires
Training can be a challenge for many organizations. Some business leaders are stuck in the mindset of, “what if I spend all this time and money training them and they leave?” to which we respond with, “what if you don’t and they stay?” The reality is that training can be a very affordable and straight forward process once given clear direction. Harry will discuss some of the misconceptions of investing in training and the power that a trained salesperson or manager has over an untrained one.
*Disclaimer: This transcription was automatically generated so we would like to apologize for any misspellings or grammatical errors in advance
In today’s podcast, we’re going to suggest the almost daunting task of training new hires and how putting together a seamless training program or training process can actually open up your recruiting ability to hires that have less of the hard skills that you’re looking for or have experience within your industry and a lot more of the soft skills that are harder to train on that can really improve or support your day to business operations. So the power of training and how training on those hard skills can elevate your team because now it’s opening up a whole new realm of possibilities on your recruiting side.
Justin: Harry, Good morning. today I was hoping that we could touch on A relevant topic for a lot of retailers which is training, but more importantly why some retailers believe that it’s this daunting impossible task when actually it can be made pretty simple and would love to hear your thoughts over the last thirty five years of what businesses can do To make training a simple an effective process and get away from this idea of all training is done on the job.
Harry: Well, hey they’re Justin, how are you?
Harry: Well you’re in my wheel house with the world of training here. Well first of all let’s not let’s not put training in the box as either simple or complex and that these are choices. Certainly medical school’s a little complex. You know taking tickets to a ride, you know if you’re the guy that takes tickets to a ride to Disneyland it may not being nearly as complex. So, you first of all we have to look at the outcome. Training is related to the outcome so what is it that my people need to do? What is their job? And I assume we’re talking about retail. I mean, what the heck, it is my thing but it doesn’t really matter whether it’s retail, bid to bid or bid to anything. So the idea some people don’t really get that there’s an end to training. now what I mean by that is there’s a conclusion so if we just think about going to medical school or going to law school or even becoming a CPA and there’s a point at which the verb training reverts to a noun, you’re trained! I mean, it’s over. Now that doesn’t mean, of course it doesn’t mean that there’s no continuation of one’s education and training. I mean, I’ve always said that training is only out for the, school is only out for the amateur not a pro so let’s learning could be a lifelong endeavor for sure and particularly if you want to get great at something. But there is a point where you can be active and do what it is that the company wants you to do. So the first thing that we have to say is what is the end point? What does this guy or girl or whatever, how do they behave? What is it that if I were to look at them in action I would say yeah, you’re doing pretty well! That’s really cool! Now one of the interesting things is as it relates to salesmanship and management in all those categories, there’re so many misunderstandings. Training is only there to get you the data and the ability to use that data. It has nothing to do with how well you use it. So if we were to just use a lob shot, let’s use a lob shot with an attorney for an example. You go to law school and you, you know you get your degree and you’re now a lawyer and you’re all by yourself and there’s no supervision and you get a case and you go to court, you know the stat is how many cases do you win as a percentage? You know I bet 85% for my clients or I bet 20% for my clients. What I’m saying is that the success you have as a sales person in utilizing the data found in training is to be found in sales management as a subject not training. So training is there to get you the data, your ability to use it, to recall it and sales management or senior management when it comes to being a store manager or district manager or regional I mean that has nothing to do with the data itself. Alright, so firstly get rid of the notion that training results in great salespeople. It doesn’t. It only results in people having the data. So we have our endpoint, we know that we want this guy, we know what and how and the wear and the way to the knowledge that we’d like him to have and it’s really a matter of breaking it down into simple little processes that we Reveal. Now we know that some people have great data about salesmanship, customer service, management I know the Freedman group does, pretty proud of that!!! So the information’s available.
Justin: Question! Why do some guys shy, I mean you talk about attorneys and doctors right? Well an attorney has to pass the bar to practice but I’ve noticed
Harry: A doctor has to pass the medical boards
Justin: exactly yet for whatever reason there’s like this notion of shying away from testing your team just to get them to the halfway point you know the outcome still needs to be achieved but just to get into that what we call the minimal level of competence there’s this resistance I’ve found to just testing your people.
Harry: You know it’s interesting. If what, one of the things that I love to do is to always look at things from ten thousand feet you know or a hundred thousand feet and I have this little expression that I like to use which is if you get out of the washing machine you might be able to take a look at it. you as you know I’m a big believer in a minimum level of competence and that is just really knowing the information stage and it has a little bit to do with thinking about getting your driver’s license and I talk about this all the time and we take this sixteen year old kid depending on what state, you can be eighteen and we say look we want you to be able to recall and know what some of the basic laws are. You know when you put your turn signal on and how many feet you stop here and there and all this other kind of stuff. It’s always a Terrifying thought, me taking a driver’s exam today but in any event the kids do it right. they take this test, it’s written and then the second part of the test is they get in the car with an examiner who I have always believed is one of the bravest souls on the planet and off they go and either they pass or they don’t pass you know. the reality is nobody’s going to tell you that a sixteen year old kid is a great driver but they do have a minimum level of competence that they’ve demonstrated to be able to get the license and all I’m saying is, if your entire business revolves to some degree not completely but to some degree on the competence of your sales staff, wouldn’t it be interesting to know if they can do some of the basic things? So testing should just be a matter of course but that ten thousand foot you, Is a little bit different and that is and there’s some basis of reality on it. So if you’re not good at recruiting, if you’re not good it attracting people to come to work for you, then you’re scared to death to test. Think about that. I mean yeah, even if I close one of my eyes, I don’t have to feel bad about how terrible my staff is. And that’s a whole other subject which we should attack sometime, the whole idea of recruiting.
Harry: It’s the most miserable thing in the world today. I just got back from a trip to Russia actually where I was trying to solve the you know the hacking problem. Actually I was just talking to a couple retailers there that had a whole bunch of stores and you know in Russia interestingly enough they have no recruiting problem. I got tons of people that want to go to work but that’s not the case in the United States. We have a lot of trouble attracting people to retail for any number of reasons and some of them are misunderstood but in fact the end result is recruiting. So how does recruiting and training you know have to do with these minimal levels of competence and all that? It really intertwined heavily. Think about this, to the degree that you’re able to train someone is the degree to which you can hire someone without the skills and maybe in English I’m saying if you have a terrible training program you have to find people that have been in the industry or have some experience in selling at retail. This is wild! This is wild! A lot of times you are hiring the rejects from other stores or people that couldn’t make it because I have always questioned why do people leave if they’re successful? You know so think about all that in the mix, in this conversation.
Justin: Yes. so what you’re saying is with the proper training process your candidate pool just on the hiring front widens immensely and now you could be Hiring for you know personalities on the soft skills because you know for a fact you’re training on all the hard skills and you’re confident in your training so that they can actually execute when they’re finished.
Harry: That’s exactly right. So think about cause and effect. I mean in 1969, we took three guys and we put them in a bunch of metal, put some dynamite under their butt…
wow, I’m getting a phone call right in the middle of the podcast.
Justin: Do you want to take that or should we…
Harry: No I don’t know (00:10:29).
So we took these Street guys and we put them in a bunch of metal put some dynamite under their butt and sent them to the moon and they came back and my God they lived! Can you imagine that! This is remarkable to me and I was not there was just a (00:10:53) and some cheese or something up there but now we had three guys, two of them walked, One guy sat in the taxi and then they came back and this was one of my explosive moments in seminars and I say, my God if we can send three guys to the moon they come back and live, I swear to God I could teach one of your guys to sell a sofa. I mean there are some technical products out there but I think we over do this thing so much so we either overreach with so much training and so much technical data that the guy goes nuts or we don’t do enough. There is a happy medium somewhere in there, competence.
Justin: So tell us Henry, what can a small retailer do? How do they start? What can they implement to help with their lack of if you want to call it training process as it stands today?
Harry: OK Well I love the question and of course let’s just make it real simple. Number one, does somebody in this Retailers organization know what they want it to look like, sound like and be like? Do they know what that is? And at what level do they want to do it? So there’s all sorts of basic stuff. There’s the guy that satisfied that a guy goes up and says can I help you and points and you know remotely enthusiastic about the whole thing. That’s all right I mean you know there’s a lot of big organizations that specialize in that. If you think about this for just a moment there are organizations that can’t even get people to go greet customer’s right, let alone (00:12:33) car. So where do you want to be, at what level of professionalism would you like your people to attain? So always start with the endgame in mind. Number two divide the training up into three distinct areas. One is product knowledge, one is salesmanship and customer service and three is operations. So those three things need to be attacked separately although within some sort of harmony and training should be over the course of time, it should be mixed up. We didn’t go to school if you think about it and take eight hours of biology we took a little English, a little geography, a little history. We mixed it up a little bit and I think the training should follow that kind of a track. So when you have the three once again and when you apply the standard, we say how much of this stuff do you want to know.
So let’s take some simple things like product knowledge. Well if you’re in a jewelry business you could say well it takes you know a hundred tons of ore to find a diamond. After certain you know size or quality and I used to know these numbers, I don’t know them anymore. The reason I don’t know them any more is because I don’t care. So you could say, you could get that detail. you could say how many pounds of, how many tons of ore To get a diamond and then you can talk about the process, this rough and it’s called Rough this stone that’s just (00:14:09) get out has to go somewhere to be cut and polished and all that and then it’s got to be graded and you know eventually it makes its way into the hands of a retailer. Now this salesperson I mean how much of that do they need to know do they need to know actually where those diamond mines are? Whether it’s South Africa or Russia or Australia? I mean do they need to know that? So those are examples, they’re kind of wild. now they probably don’t need much of that but there is a point in time where a salesperson in a jewelry business relationship the diamonds might want to know some of the details about you know the forces From a product knowledge standpoint and that cool. It’s easy to learn. You don’t have to go to the Gemological Institute to do all that. We do it for you. We tell you what the specs are and your enthusiasm in customer service and salesmanship will take it to another level. So we have to decide at what level do we want our product knowledge and what is the need OK. So the second thing is salesmanship. Well we know that salesmanship can be everything from, can I help you at the low end of the stick giving customer some attention all the way up to utilizing techniques and strategies for opening the sale, how we make the approach landing areas a hundred eighty get past all techniques that are created to make opening the sales just a little bit easier and a little bit more person to person. And finally operations; At what level does a salesperson need to operate from the POS system all the way to a special ordering for customers, to handling complex transactions? So once we decide what level of training we want OK then we break that down just too logical steps and say OK what are the things that this guy needs to learn first So that he can get on the floor sooner? We what we certainly want them up and productive. we don’t have In retail the time to train them for thirty days before they get on the floor and it’s impractical and it doesn’t make sense so they should do a little bit of classroom training, a little practical training, a little bit more classroom you know back and forth a little bit to get to the level of competence that you want.
Justin: Awesome! I found that on the three categories you mentioned the one thing that is consistent amongst the three is that the person being trained is going to develop a very strong level of confidence right and without confidence they’re going to sit there and they’re going to shy or they’re not going to be able to answer questions they are going to feel stumped and at the end that turns them into a you know more like a wet towel than a sales person so what good are you right now.
Harry: Well, Justin I have some very strong beliefs on all that. Confidence is earned never learned. So and the way you earn confidence is by having transactions. We put a lot of pressure on sales people to sell dollars and its way out of order the whole idea is how many times can you get to the cash register? If you believe you can get to the cash register often and consistently at that point you gain the confidence to take liberties by adding on logical items that make sense and selling more expensive merchandise, that takes confidence and confidence is a result of transactions. So we got to get this newbie to the register quite often and then we can build from there with no pressures no pressures on the average sale no pressures on the gross sales at the end of the day. It’s solely maybe for the first sixty days is solely a matter of counting transactions which is really kind of interesting. I was recently listening to a podcast, A woman named Debbie Millman who’s very well known in the design world, very successful And she was talking about the difference between confidence and courage and it was magnificent and I feel so bad that I hadn’t thought of it before but I guess that’s the benefit of listening to other people that have been down the road a few times. So when we’re talking about training and salespeople and confidence which we just talked about a little bit confidence is an earned attribute of people after you know successful Actions and repetition of success. As I was saying get the people to the cash register often and they start to earn this confidence that enables them to do great things. What she’d brought up was certainly at the beginning, it’s all about courage and I just can’t argue with that at all it’s such a great way of saying it you have to have the courage to greet customers without knowing you’re so great at it, the courage to make demonstrations without all the product knowledge you think you might need or want To close the sale takes so much courage and I think a lot of our training has to be about the courage that you need to get out there and to succeed to fail to do all sorts of things. So that’s kind of a new discovery for me and I love it very much.
Justin: Learning something everyday Right?
Harry: Well you can learn something that, but it takes courage to use it. Right.
Justin: I love that!
Harry: So training is a big burden only as it relates to the goals that you have as a management team and what results that you want. We know that people at a high level of training certainly have an average sale that ranges anywhere from twenty to forty five percent greater than a non assisted sale and somewhat in between for a semi assistance sale. Some companies just have no interest in that. Wal-Mart has absolutely no interest in one to one selling whatsoever and the reason that they don’t have an interest in it is because they’ve taken the money that would normally be used for one to one selling and reduced the prices of their mentor and increase the amount of inventory. So and their pricing structure. So you know that you can find it at Wal-Mart, you know is that they are going to have sharp prices and that’s the that’s what you do you know online is all about price and selection not about engagement. So if you choose engagement and you choose a high level of engagement then you have to be willing to pay the price to have your people perform at a high level.
Justin: Awesome. Well thanks Henry, appreciate the insight on training and of course we at the freeman group know a little bit about training
Harry: You know Justin there is one other thing that I think that I’d like to bring up for you to close out. If you had training as a budget item a line item on your financial statement, then you’d feel a lot more comfortable using it. If you had for example a four percent advertising percentage You know budget item four percent when you don’t have a training budget every dollar you spend seems to have to be found from somewhere in your budget and often times when things go a little bit sideways we don’t have you know the budget dollars to do the training and so my recommendation is that you have a training budget and you absolutely spend it and for those of you who are curious about how much that should be, ha ha, We think about two percent of your gross sales should be spent on training.
Justin: Fantastic. Thank you Henry for joining us today and we’ll be talking.
Harry: I hope so.
You’ve been listening to retail revisiting. If our conversation today inspired you please be sure to rate us on iTunes or shares with your friends. You can see a full list of all our episodes at www.thefriedmangroup.com. And for more information on how the Friedman Group can transform your business, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A special thanks to Harry J. Freidman for sharing his thirty five years of unbelievable experience for all of us to hear.