Archive for January 31, 2015

Treat Your Staff Like Angry Birds

 

 

angry birds

 

 

I know I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve renewed by obsession with Angry Birds recently. When the faze first took over, of course I was curious and played a bit, but then I forgot all about it.

 

Recently though, I’ve been a bit addicted. Not sure why, but it happens I guess. As I was playing the other night, I thought of how this game can be tied to managing your staff.

 

Think about it for a moment….

 

You have a task (to wipe out all of the green guys) to complete and are given staff (the birds) to help you accomplish this. As you get more into the game and move on to more advanced levels, you quickly learn that each type of bird has it’s own strength with regard to how they work best. As a player, you need to make the most of each bird’s capability to get the task done.

 

Kind of like your staff – each has a role to do, and every one comes with unique strengths and abilities. Your job, as a manager, is to learn what each employee’s strengths and weaknesses are, and how to make them the most effective for your team.

 

Sometimes, as in angry birds, it takes some time. You need to learn the best way to complete the task. The first time out may be exploratory; send off the birds in the way you think may be best and see what the effect is. Of course, on this first run you may be unfamiliar with a new bird (like a new hire), and send them out thinking they’d do one thing when they actually do something completely different. Lesson learned for next time.

 

It may take a try or two, but eventually you learn the best way to utilize your birds, in the order they are given to you, to complete the task as quickly and efficiently as possible to give you the most points for that level.

 

As is similar with managing employees, it may take some time to learn how each one will be most effective, and in turn most successful, as part of your team. Funny how a simple game app can bring that message home so easily.

 

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How Do You Measure The Effectiveness of Sales Training?

 

If you have recently undergone staff wide training, or implemented new company policies and procedures, you know that it can be tricky to determine the effectiveness of the training, as well as if the new procedures are playing out in the field as they should be.

 

Training of any kind, and certainly staff wide, can be costly. Many will utilize employee testing and even certification at the end of a training session to be sure important information was correctly retained and that staff have a good working knowledge of what is expected from them.

 

While mystery shopping is traditionally thought of as an ongoing tool to be used on a continual basis, many sales trainers are turning to this type of program to objectively measure the effectiveness of their training program.

 

It is very simple and can be easily deployed in a short time frame in order to quickly pinpoint what is working and what may need additional education/training. Here’s how it works:

 

1. Determine the current staff expectations with relation to customer service. Devise a mystery shopping baseline program from this information. Deploy a batch of shops across locations. It is best to conduct multiple shops at each location so that there is a variety of staff evaluated across different times of day and days of the week.

 

2. Once the baseline pilot is complete, take the data and review it carefully. Many programs offer back end reporting capabilities to make this process easier. You can pinpoint baseline strengths and areas for opportunity, as well as determine where to focus training efforts for the best success.

 

3. Once training is conducted, it is wise to keep to more traditional methods of measurement, including employee testing, to make sure that, at a minimum, staff understood policies, procedures, and expectations.

 

4. Allow for a short period of time to pass to allow for staff to become used to what they are expected to do. Waiting for a two week period is a good rule of thumb – it gets employees to the point where they can focus on adhering to training and start getting settled in their behaviors. This will give you a true sense of performance, and it will also ensure that you are not conducting measurement during the “honeymoon period.” This is the point where staff are most aware of their performance and tend to do their best since training has just ended and they realize that they may be evaluated. This is similar to the honeymoon period at the launch of any mystery shopping program – once staff are told this will be happening, they tend to be hyperaware and put their best foot forward for the immediate future.

 

5. After the “honeymoon period” the company then conducts another round of mystery shopping in a similar fashion to the baseline.

 

6. The final stage is analyzing the data collected from the second round, and then making general comparisons to the baseline. This will gauge effectiveness of training, and pinpoint areas (or even specific staff members) who may require additional assistance.

 

Sales training is not cheap; making sure you have the necessary tools to measure, monitor, and maintain quality staff performance is vital. Mystery shopping is one tool that can really make a difference with training programs!

Flash Sales: Are They Effective?

 

This past holiday season brought a lot of flash sales to customers – flash sales can be announced in advance or completely random, giving customers special discounts during a specific time frame. There are a few goals in this type of marketing:

 

1. Drive sales during a specific time frame. When announced, it can create word of mouth advertising, as customers may tell others, and gives the company a simpler way to track the effectiveness of a marketing strategy.

 

2. When unannounced and completely random, it can keep customers more closely tied to a company’s website or social sites where they are known to make such offers.

 

There are a couple of ways flash sales can be done, and I’ve seen them offered by a variety of businesses, including retail and gas stations.
Gas stations? Yes.

 

Gas prices have been falling across the nation, and in the Chicagoland area, we are celebrating the almost $2.00 per gallon prices. I recently became a loyalty card member for Thorton’s, as they tend to offer the lowest prices in the area and are convenient to me. What I didn’t know is that part of being a member included flash sales. Imagine my surprise when I randomly received an email that let me know that if I purchased gas the following day, I would receive an additional $0.10 per gallon. It’s happened once since that time, but I will admit I do look forward to those emails, never knowing when they will come.

 

In the retail world, there were many flash sales offered during the holiday shopping season. I personally received many of these emails offering high discounts over a short period of time. Depending on the sale and the retailer that is offering the sale, this could be a successful way of increasing sales.

 

Below are some tips for creating a successful flash sale:

 

1. Random vs pre-planned: the first time around, let customers know ahead of time that you will be hosting a flash sale. Give advance notice and build excitement. If you are sharing the flash sale on social sites, such as Instagram, let customers know that this is the first one, but you will randomly offer additional flash sales in the future. This way, if they cannot make the first one, they will be checking your social site more frequently in hopes of hitting a deal.

 

2. Keep the window short: keeping the flash sale to a two or three hour timeframe is a good idea; any longer and it may not be as effective as you’d like. The idea is to build excitement and offer great deals over a short period of time. The longer a flash sale is live, the weaker the participation. Studies show that the most activity comes within the first hour to hour and a half of a flash sale.

 

3. Keep in mind the time of day: historically, evenings have proven better to host flash sales. Weekends are no exception. By offering such sales in the evening, there is a chance for better participation.

 

4. Be very clear in the announcement: it’s the little things, such as identifying the times of the sale by time zone and creating a page for customers who visit outside of the designated time that indicates the flash sale is over, will go a long way in preventing issues and/or dissatisfied customers.

 

Flash sales can be a fun way to reward customers while increasing sales. It can also help gain traction on social sites if this is where you choose to host your flash sale. Careful planning and consideration are needed to ensure a seamless experience for the company and customers.