The secret to every high performing team, from professional athletes to Navy SEALs, is their intense commitment to training. Your business's ability to achieve its full potential is directly proportional to its ability to develop talent.
For years, automotive managers have believed that the best form of training is shadowing and trial and error. Meaning, go find someone who knows how to sell cars and follow them around, do what they do, get out there and make mistakes. After you make enough mistakes, you’ll learn. There is some truth to that, after all, most of us in the automotive industry learned that way. It’s called survival of the fittest. However, this line of thinking limits you to a small percentage of people that are natural salespeople. The rest of them just burn through your customers by making these mistakes, they don’t make enough money, so they quit. The process starts all over again in search for the elusive superstar.
If we start thinking of Training and Development as a process that’s just as important as a sales process, we will immediately see results. Try to imagine selling a car without a proper meet and greet needs analysis or a product presentation, is it possible to still sell a car? Yes, however, you strongly increase your chances with proper training and development as opposed to shadowing followed by trial and error.
At our dealership, our sales process was developed to navigate the customer down a path to a sale and it was designed to fit the majority of our customers. However, each customer is unique and they require unique treatment. So on one level, you treat everyone the same, however, you adjust to fit their individual needs.
Training your team is no different. We must have a process for training and development for everyone based on your organizational needs, and still, leave room for flexibility to train the people with their unique needs in mind to help fill the gaps in their performance.
Part of this training and development process, you must create a weekly, monthly, or quarterly training calendar. Meaning, as an organization, everyone must be on the same page. All managers must be training the same thing at the same time. All too often I see managers just wing it. Meaning, most managers were good salespeople and so they can throw a training meeting together in a second, and most of the preparation happens on the way to the meeting, usually on a drive to the dealership. However, this approach to training is usually viewed as pieced together and not based on organizational needs. It’s just based on the gut of a manager. So, based on your organizational needs, you should be able to deploy curriculum to help you move the needle in the areas that you see the most room for growth and the whole organization needs to focus on it. If executed properly, it will help your leadership team deliver the same training on a consistent basis to the entire team. As you focus on the needs of the team, you must also be able to assign training based on individual needs. As a manager, if you notice someone struggling in any particular area, you should have the tools and content in place to help them.
As you are building your training calendar, whether you want to use your managers to deliver the training content or use one of many training platforms, I recommend that you break up your training curriculum into four factors.
3. Product Knowledge
You want to have a balance between all of the factors, to avoid the monotony of training and promote engagement from your people. Meaning, every week you should focus on one or two of the factors during your training and rotate through the rest the following weeks.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” As a manager, I want you to take the word “luck” out of the equation when trying to build a high performing team. Just like a teacher or a coach, put together a plan for training and development of your people based on your organization’s needs. Then consistently execute it.