How to Intentionally Use Training as a Business Development Strategy – Part I

One of the toughest decisions that most business owners struggle with is deciding whether to commit to training programs that are not associated to a capital investment.

Unfortunately, this resistance stems from the poor track record that many of these training programs have in producing measurable results. Although these concerns are often unspoken, it explains why many business owners are hesitant to commit to outside training solutions even though they know that it is desperately needed in their organizations.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the dealership environment, where in most cases they operate as microcosms that are cut off from traditional business associations and methodologies, where the solutions to some of their most pressing issues have already been discovered.

The fact is, what’s not being said, is that outside of the usual suspects for business failure or success the education levels, demographics and psychographics of the frontline employees within dealerships have played and will continue to play a significant role in their outcome because in most cases these individuals are homegrown and lack the knowledge from formal training that is usually derived from advanced degrees.

This explains why when traditional training programs are introduced into the dealership environment, without accounting for the pre-existing knowledge gaps, the results vary greatly. This fact can be attributed to the wild card effect, which in this case is the knowledge that the learner brings to the table that is void of the required content needed to correctly execute the activities being offered in the training program.

So as a result, these individuals will try to use their own experience, which is limited to interpret what they think they are being asked to do, instead of what is actually required, thus meeting with the aforementioned varied results.

It is critically important that you get this point because it will explain a lot. It will explain why there is such a high attrition rate for employees within the dealership environment; it will explain why, even in the presence of so much “training” that the salespeople will continue to fail to meet expectations; and it will also explain why there is such a slow adoption rate for new concepts, technologies and ideas that can help because the learner is ill-equipped to connect the dots in order to make the investment pay dividends.

An example of this can be seen when individuals who are hired to sell or engage in positions that involve customer relationship management activities, they may, on the surface, seem qualified or even over-qualified; however, when they are further evaluated through this new lens, what will often be seen is that they lack the necessary people skills to include how to listen effectively, ask qualifying questions and how to adapt to the different human personality traits in order to establish rapport, which are fundamental to the success of these roles.

So in essence, what you cannot define, you cannot reproduce; what you cannot reproduce, you cannot measure; what you cannot measure, you cannot control or manage and in this case, by not having the core skill sets defined and taught prior to skill based training, the definition of insanity will continue to apply.

The solution to this opportunity demands that a new approach to personnel development be implemented to fill these knowledge gaps as a strategic initiative to address the fundamental challenges that are quietly affecting the revenue streams of all the profit centers within the business. In other words, by identifying and defining the core skills, systems and processes that are shared between the different profit centers and providing them via an ongoing, reoccurring training process within the business so that the individual can master these skills, then and only then can technique and skill based training programs that require the use of these fundamentals for their correct execution begin to pay dividends.

So with that being said, business leaders must begin to take a new and more proactive approach to training by viewing it as a capital investment and as such, a strategic initiative. This approach will provide them with the opportunity to look at the entire business and the different roles and responsibilities that are within each profit center so as to determine the different layers of reoccurring training that will be needed to make the initiative sustainable.

Conversely, failure to do so will result with a continued feeling of frustration when faced with another expensive training program that has failed to meet expectations because their employees are ill-equipped to follow through on what is being taught. So in essence, ongoing personnel development cannot continue to be an afterthought that is in response to some form of economic pain such as slumping sales because this approach is just too expensive.

To be continued…Part II – The Layers, The Process for Setting up Training as a Strategic In-house Solution That is Sustainable.