Back to School – for all of us

back to sales

You know what back to school means… school zones are here again. Better add an extra 15 minutes to your commute and don’t get caught in that student pickup line (unless, of course, you are picking up your kid – in that case, here’s an audiobook for you!) While classes are starting, maybe you’re bringing in a new class of employees to your organization. Or you’re thinking about professional development opportunities for your current team. Maybe even a refresh on training for yourself. When was the last time you evaluated your training process when new people were onboarded? Or trained after they are in their roles? How are you analyzing your own skills assessment and areas you want to improve? What does ongoing training look like for you and your company?

Having well-trained team members has a direct impact on the customer experience
Just take a look at online reviews or send email surveys and follow-ups to test this and gather concrete data. That way, you know what needs to change and can make a plan to do something about it – like ongoing skills development.

Think about how skills development affects your customer experience. Do your customers have the same experience with each person they work with? Or does everyone sort of have “their own way of doing things”? Inconsistent encounters with a team can look like different processes between associates, discrepancies in product knowledge, or enforcement of company policies. For example, one barista always gives me a discount when I bring my own cup, while another associate tells me their store doesn’t offer that promotion. These inconsistencies can harm your brand – it reduces customer trust and, overall, looks sloppy.

Bye-bye boring
Many jobs have ongoing training, and while some of those are perfunctory, regulatory, and refreshers, they are all important to remind everyone of the brand’s mission, vision, and values. And just because it’s sometimes about embracing the essentials doesn’t mean it has to be boring! Interactive content, videos and multimedia, or even gamifying training can be an engaging way to communicate what’s old as new. We’ve all been through the boring, monotone video series (insert the talking teacher from the Peanuts cartoon). No one wants to sit through that. Make it fun, and you will see increased productivity and sales. Tigo, a major cable service provider, saw a 66% increase in sales after implementing more easily digestible training for their field sales team. Since their team is remote, there was not a central meeting location, so they shifted to a more strategic digital training format. They replaced the old, printed materials, which were often lost and led to inconsistencies and misinterpretation. Through this online learning, the team is now more knowledgeable and able to answer customer questions better, thus improving their satisfaction and sales. We could all use that!

Fall’s focus
Why wait? Fall is a great time to refocus on training and talent development for all of us. Solopreneurs and entrepreneurs know that learning is an all-season sport and constantly seek more information. Managers and leaders, you can invest in your own development, but this is also a wonderful time to show your teams how much you value, appreciate, and want to invest in them. But, for all the team members out there, don’t wait for someone else to offer you training. Invest in yourself and take action by enrolling before your company signs you up. Consider asking your manager about a professional development budget. They may offer reimbursement for books, lessons, and trainings. 

Here are some benefits of self-led training:

  • Shows leadership that you’re a self-starter. 
  • Improves problem-solving skills. 
  • Strengthens resume and LinkedIn profile. 
  • Career advancement opportunities from learning a new skill.

Solopreneurs, individual contributors, managers, and teams can all benefit from elevating their skills. So, while the competition is trying to cram in work before their fiscal year ends, you can gain an edge by investing in learning to improve the customer experience and employee satisfaction, ultimately bringing in more business.

Need some things to get you started? How about…

  1. Assessing the skills gap for yourself or with fellow team members: take self-assessments, review those customer surveys and discover where you could level up your game. 
  2. Map the customer journey in your organization. From the first point of contact (which is likely not with a human – a Google search > website > social media, etc.) …what is the route they take? Are you wowing them at every chance you get, or are they on autopilot? Then hold a team meeting to revamp your plan and refresh and renew.
  3. Look to the future. It is no surprise that we at OLC believe that Every Job Is a Sales Job, no matter what your job title is. How are you building your sales culture? Does everyone in your company know they are a walking commercial? How are you, as a team member, promoting your company/yourself? You can help bring in new business, which means stability and job security for you. Look at the classes offered at Orange Leaf Academy to sharpen your sales skills.

Never stop learning
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – at OLC, we are lifelong learners. Whether that means improving our skills or learning a new skill to enhance our qualifications, it’s never too late to enroll in a class, pick up a book, or network with experienced professionals. We love seeing a talent development plan in motion. It helps keep everyone more focused, motivated, and engaged. When we recognize a company that appreciates growth as an employee, the output is reflective of the input. As an employee or solopreneur, we encourage you to develop your own retraining and learning plan. Working this into your business model can help you discover a whole new sense of accomplishment by growing your skillset. By taking the leap into learning, you’re opening the door to so much more earning potential and can become a more well-rounded contributor and/or business owner. You can essentially become a positive spokesperson for the business and can take pride in valuing your growth and development.

We encourage you to check out some of our Orange Leaf resources to get started on your journey this Fall to help you refresh and retrain. We can’t wait to hear your success stories.