Five Retention Devices … for sales training and customer service training

Retention devices …just five of many…

There are many excellent devices for retention of sales training. There’s probably at least eight or ten different devices you can use for sales training retention, or really any kind of training retention. I think that this is one of the aspects that is severely lacking in most training programs of most types . In my experiences in sales training we do very few retention exercises with people. Many times the sales trainer gives some quick advice, shows a video, or gives trainees something to read, or gives out a checklist and says, “now go do this” and there you are. That is not sufficient in order to train people to use the correct phrases and use the correct process. You’ve got to do retention exercises to make the training work.

Actors who perform in movies and plays don’t just look at a script once or twice and then go do the work. They study and practice and mull over the words and mull over the phrases and the meanings of the phrases and the motivations behind the meanings of the phrases. It’s a long, difficult, involved process to get someone to the point where they look very natural and very much in character doing the script to a play or movie.

It is the same thing with sales training. In order to be very natural and spontaneous and conversational while maintaining your empathetic connection with the people you are talking with, you need a lot of practice. Many times in sales training we try to get people to perform some whole big involved process. We give them a 14-point checklist and 17 paragraphs and 13 more reasons to buy… and tell them to learn this and do it all on every sale. That is very difficult and might even be impossible for people to perform. They’re trying to learn one whole big thing and very quickly digest it. Then we expect them to do it thoroughly in every interaction, when every customer or every prospect they deal with is a different person in a different situation in a different frame of mind with different experiences and different ways of thinking and different ways of expressing themselves. You just can’t apply a strict template to everything. That doesn’t work.

One of the things I claim to be good at is dog training. One of the things that’s really fun to see is when a dog will retrieve an object over a jump. The exercise starts with the dog sitting next to the handler. The handler tosses the retrieval object over a wall or jump. The dog jumps over the jump, grabs the retrieval object, jumps back over the jump, runs over to the Handler and sits in front of the handler and nicely presents the retrieval object to the Handler. It looks really neat and it’s really smooth. When you see it done well, it it looks like some lovely choreography and a whole lot of fun.

In fact there are about 12 different components that go into that one exercise. People who try to train a dog to retrieve an object over a jump and think that that is one exercise and one process usually end up confusing the dog, killing the dogs motivation, and getting angry with the dog. The dog usually ends up doing all sorts of silly avoidance or submission behavior and you can end end up with a dog that won’t ever jump anything, will refuse to retrieve, and hates coming close to the Handler. This is the kind of thing that we see often and sales training where sales people are afraid to perform and don’t want to get near their bosses. Instead of continuing this bone headed way of approaching sales training, we should be breaking down our sales process into the most basic components and training those components until the components are good. Then we can simply put the components together in whichever manner suits a particular selling situation.

There are several benefits to training component pieces. One of those benefits is that if you’re teaching your dog to do the retrieve over the jump and something falls apart in the training and it no longer works right ,you just have to isolate the one component that broke and fix that component. Then you can put it all back together again. You don’t have to start from scratch and try and do the whole thing all over again. You just fix the one component piece. The same thing happens in sales training. If you listen to one of your sales agents’ phone calls or or watch a video of them on a presentation and something goes wrong, all you have to do is isolate that one point, that one phrase, that one decision point, and fix that . You don’t have to approach the whole thing as an entire entity.

It is also true that in many cases there’s only one or two phrases that will make or break a sale. If someone’s following my five rules of selling and if someone is being empathetic and if someone understands and has confidence in their offering, really they just have to have a conversation and use the right two or three or four phrases at the right time to make enough sales. It doesn’t have to be a whole long involved process that they have to learn by rote. Yes, many services and products come with compliance issues That need to be handled in a certain way consistently. That’s easy to handle. All you have to do is at the right time say something like, “Now let me just cover some compliance issues for you.” Go to the script and say, “Okay, I have to read this in a particular way to make sure I cover all the compliance items. One, you agree to this and that, and two, we agree to that and this.” Any compliance type language is easy to deal with. You can just go to a prepared script for that. Customers will understand that you need this piece of the process done in an exact manner.

Almost all of the sales process and the turns of events that happen around decision points, and hesitancies, and resistance, and the need for assurance can be solved with a few good phrases. The trick is to find the good phrases, field test them until you get them pretty close to perfect, and then help people learn those and retain those. Help people personally field test them and tweak them to their own liking, to their own personality, to their own manner of speaking, and then get their retention levels way up there.

Here are the devices for training retention.
Device number one is reading. You need to read the phrase or the piece of scripting and read it over and over again. All of these retention devices help to ingrain or engrave into your brain and into your head computer, almost in 3D, what this phrase is, when to use it, how to store it, and how to phrase, Reading something is a powerful way to do all of that. Reading is a little bit like sorcery and probably the reason that the original people who invented written language and invented reading kept it from the masses as they developed it, was because they realized the amazing power of reading. They were afraid to share that power with people for a variety of reasons. Either they didn’t want to share power with them or they felt that lesser people didn’t have the fortitude or the mental strength or the spiritual wisdom to handle such an amazing wizardry sorcery skill such as the ability to read. Reading is like magic. When you can read the phrases to yourself that you need to master, it will really help you absorb them and digest them.

Let’s think for a minute about one positive confident sounding phrase that you can use in a selling situation: “Let’s get this started for you now.” This is a very general phrase that you can use to move the process along in just about any kind of selling situation. Read this, “Let’s get this started for you now.” Once more, “Let’s get this started for you now.” Okay you’ve read this a few times and you’ve absorbed it to some degree. Wonderful.


Device number two is to see it being done. Observation is a powerful tool. When you see someone performing a task in-person enough times you absorb that ability. What you need to do is to find a video of someone saying “let’s get this started for you now”. If you go to the Tron Jordheim Channel on on YouTube you’ll find me saying “let’s get this started for you now”. Find the video that says “let’s get this started for you now” and watch it a few times. To watch someone else doing something is really a powerful tool of observation. This is how many animals learn to do things ;they watch adult animals in their family do things.
They just pick it up …so I’ll let’s get this started for you now.

Another powerful retention device is to watch people do this live. There’s a difference between watching something live and watching something on video and this is the difference between Cinema and theater. When you see a particular show on stage it’s a very different experience than when you see that show say in a movie or on TV or on a small screen. It’s a very different experience. what you need to do now is to go find a friend who’s going to “say let’s get this started for you now” several times so you can watch them saying it. Go find a friend or family member and have them say it several times and see what it feels like to watch someone else do.

The next retention device is to practice. Practice and repetition or not the same thing. When you practice something you explore it, you listen to it, you craft it, you tweak it, until you get it just right. You’ll improve it a little bit each time until the activity really becomes a part of you. The best way to practice is often with a friend. Go find a friend or family member and say to each other a few times “let’s get this started for you now”. Practice out the rhythm of the words. Practice out where you going to place emphasis. Are you putting on the emphasis on “let’s” or “now” or “this”. How does that feel? How does it sound? Do this back and forth with each other for a while until you have found some comfort level.

The next retention device retention, device number 5, is to repeat things. Repetition is different than practice. When you have practice something to the point where you like how it’s feeling and sounding, then you can use repetition so just say to yourself 10 times. It’s just mindless training. “Let’s get this started for you now, let’s get this started for you now, let’s get this started for you now, let’s get this started for you now”. Keep repeating it and it will become ingrained in your head.