Originally published in Twice Magazine
Christmas is coming, and I'm sure that once again a leading consumer advocacy magazine or television news show will take another shot at the extended warranty and extended service plans business. As someone who has spent more than 20 years training retailers on how to successfully sell extended service plans (ESPs), I'm always amazed that these outlets consistently display their prejudice and lack of knowledge toward the service contract industry as a whole.
Let me start by describing a training scenario most of us have likely experienced. You register for a retail sales training class or seminar, paid good money, and your expectations are high. After sitting through the session, you're completely blown away by the experience. The facilitator captures your imagination and makes you feel like he/she is speaking directly to you even though there are 200 people in the room.
The training content is specific, relevant, and spot on. When it's over, you can't believe you just sat through a 5-hour training session. It felt more like an hour. You never once nodded off or wanted to check your text messages. In fact, you have 20 pages of copious notes because you were trying to capture every thought and sales step.
You leave the training session charged up and thinking...wow, that was a seminar!
Now, full disclosure, one of the things my company specializes in is retail sales training and motivational seminars. In fact, over the last nearly 20 years, it's really what has built our reputation even though we do so much more. Our training is unique (to say the least) and it leaves an impression with an audience. We consistently hear from clients, "no one connects with an audience the way you do." The best compliment we can ever receive (and it's happened often) is when we train or meet with a company’s employees, and at the end of the session they can't believe we don't work for their company as in-house employees. That's when you know you've hit the mark!
Here's the thing...the success of our retail sales training programs never starts with the live performance! That's actually the last step. Here’s why...
Webster defines coaching as; "to instruct, direct, or prompt". After reading that, I started to wonder how most people who are coached on the sales floor would define it. Coaching; "The time of the day when my manager tells me everything I did wrong or forgot to do". That is not coaching for performance -- that's intimidation.
I have worked in and been around retail stores, call centers, return centers, and customer service in general, for over 20 years. I am always amazed at what some managers/leaders think coaching is. My company actually does coaching for performance seminars. In fact, when we first started, we didn't offer coaching as an option. However, after doing role plays in sales seminars that include a customer, sales person and a coach role play, we realized there was a big need for training centered around coaching that would result in improved performance.