“Sorry, it’s not in the budget for next year.”
I hope that’s not your answer when someone asks you what you’re planning on budgeting for training next year. But if cash flow is tight, follow these ten tips for low-budget training ideas. Remember, training doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You usually get what you pay for when you invest in training, but if you don’t have the funds, then you don’t have the funds. Here are some options:
1. Facilitate a weekly book report in your office. Buy a sales book for each person in your office and have Friday luncheon group discussions. Have one person study each chapter and give a detailed book report on it. Have them prepare handouts with charts, graphs, and summary key points of the chapter. People learn something better once they teach it, so get all of your staff involved and rotate the instructor each week.
2. Have the rookies train the veterans. Rookies have no fear and no baggage from being beat up over and over again in this business, so their perspective is fresh and provocative. They will question old ways of doing things, and are not yet afraid to try new things. So have them lead training for your big billers. The old dogs might even learn a new trick or two.
3. Have your rookies call former clients who hate you. Have them do a “Marketing Analysis” or some other relationship-building exercise with a fancy sounding name. The objective is to find out why your ex-clients hate you and left you. You might even win them back. Worst case scenario is that you’ll know what not to do in the future.
4. Plan your annual curriculum in advance. Set monthly focus areas, with weekly specific training targets. For example, January might focus on cold calling. The first week targets phraseology, the second week targets call reluctance, the third targets getting through the gatekeeper, and the fourth targets rebuttals to objections on the initial call. You get the picture. That’s twelve main focus areas, with four or five specific training targets in each area. Congratulations. You have now created your own annual curriculum for your company. Not only are you building the revenue-generating capabilities of your staff, but you are also building team loyalty by contributing to the culture improvement of your organization.
5. Have each recruiter in your office write a 100-word paragraph on what it means to be teachable. The most treacherous part of this business is thinking that you know it all. Once you start walking out of seminars thinking you know everything, you begin your descent on that slippery slope to complacency.
6. Break down your recruiting and sales process into specific steps. Sure, you did it ten years ago. Do it again and look at it with a critical eye. Target every step in the process with these three questions: 1) Why do we do this? 2) What’s the benefit to the client? 3) How can we do it better?
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7. Have a contest for the convention for your state and national association conventions next year. If the training programs are compelling for these meetings, then pay for your staff to go there dependent upon their production goals.
8. Have contests for your staff to attend the celebrity trainer presentations, such as Brian Tracy’s and Jeffrey Gitomer’s. Find out when they are coming to your area, and set quarterly goals for your staff to attend at your expense.
9. Train the staff of your colleagues. Have your big billers train offices of your colleagues and friends in the industry, and vice versa. Recently I received a call from a board member of a major franchise organization to speak at an upcoming regional event. He admitted that there was too much inbreeding in their training culture, and that an outside breath of fresh air always breathes new life and energy into their large organization. Oftentimes we fall in love with our best material and it gets stale, not to mention the fact that it might not even be the most effective way to do something. Get a perspective from the outside and see things differently.
10. Have a client conduct training in your office. Call a really, really, really good client and have them give a thirty minute program called “What I Look for in a Recruiter” and have him or her train your staff.
Bonus tip: Your staff tires of hearing from you over and over again. We never listened to our parents as much as we listened to our favorite uncle, even though they were telling us the same thing. Find material that you didn’t produce that reinforces what you tell already tell your staff.