In a couple nights I take the stage again at The Poison Frog Brewery with my guitar and harps to have a little fun. I’m playing at least once a month and having the time of my life. (I think the audience is enjoying it, too. Of course, the more you drink, the better I sound.) To keep the show fresh I try to learn a few new songs before every gig.
Some songs come easy and I pick them up right away. Others take a little time. In the back of my songbook I keep a few “works-in-progress” that I might try out toward the end of the night and see how well they work from the stage.
I was thinking about that while rehearsing last night. I have a few songs I love to play in the current set that spent a couple months in the back of the songbook. I just had to break those songs down into sizeable chunks to learn them a little bit at a time.
I learn new songs the same way I taught new skills—in sizeable chunks, one leading to another, where the whole was greater than the sum of their parts.
I was interviewing recently for a position as a Corporate Trainer and the interviewer asked me how I would facilitate teaching Trust. I told her that Trust cannot happen in a group until you first have built up Communication, Cooperation, and Caring. That is true in Team Building. It is also true in Sales.
As we have discussed, Relational Customers are looking for someone they can Trust. You garner Trust by first being able to build a relationship with the customer. You do that through communication, cooperation and caring.
I spent most of one year of staff training working primarily on Communication skills. We discussed how to approach a customer, how to create rapport, how to ask questions, and how to listen better to the answers. Each monthly meeting was a different topic on Communication.
I spent another year working more on Cooperation. We talked about how customers have needs, how our job was to discover those needs and fulfill them. We discussed how to solve problems the best way. We discussed how to meet the customer where she was at and let her guide the way as much as possible. Our job wasn’t to sell her as much as it was to serve her.
For Caring we talked about looking at the whole process through the customers eyes and making sure her needs were met first. We talked about empathy, what it was and how we show it. We talked about “completing the sale”—making sure the customer had everything she would possibly need to solve whatever problem she was solving—because if we didn’t do that, we would have failed meeting her needs. We talked about benefits of the product being more important than just the features.
Each meeting was a subset of the broader topic. Each broad topic was a stepping stone to the bigger picture of building Trust.
Trust takes time to build. You cannot just jump right in and get people to trust you. On the easy stuff, maybe (three chords and the truth), but to really develop the level of Trust that turns a customer into a lifelong fan it takes time, patience, practice, and prescribed steps to get there. It also only takes seconds for your untrained staff to destroy it.
I have two nights before my next gig. I’ll be practicing. I have two new songs that just got moved from the back of the songbook to the front, four more that were easy enough to learn quickly, and two new ones that are now in the back of the songbook. Should be a fun night.
PS If you didn’t get that this was a post about creating a comprehensive Training Program, go back and read this again. I planned every individual training around three things, my short-term goal (learn how to listen better), my long-term goal (build up communication skills), and my ultimate goal (learn how to build trust with our customers). Rome wasn’t built in a day. Break the harder stuff down into sizeable chunks and you’ll find the training sticks better.
PPS How do I get seasonal people up to speed if my overall training takes years? Good question. With my seasonal staff I simply work on eliminating the things that destroy trust like saying, “I don’t know,” instead of “Let me find out.” Eliminate the bad stuff now and then we can replace it with more of the good stuff going forward.