By George

Over the course of calendar year 2007, George’s Marine & Sports, based in Eganville, Ontario, Canada, had replaced and added new sales team members to both of its locations. And with the new bodies, the management team at George’s felt it was a great time to hire a professional sales trainer who could help the existing sales staff brush up their skills while providing valuable tips to new hires.

The company brought its sales force from both locations together for the training, while the parts and service staffs were available in the showrooms to service customers.

“Not only was it important for the sales staff to sharpen their skills,” explains president Jeff Wilcox, “but just as important for them to all work as a team.”

Consultant Kelley Robertson of The Robertson Training Group and author of “Stop, Ask, and Listen: Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers Into Buyers,” first completed an analysis of George’s stores and then developed a curriculum of sales training. The program included in-class training, a monthly conference with an update and refresher with Kelley and a 59-second weekly e-mail sales tip to keep the team on track and motivated.

But even after Kelley left, the training didn’t end. The company understands that retaining all information given in that, or any training session is next to impossible. So to help keep those “nuggets of gold,” Wilcox says, “the company’s sales managers conduct weekly role-playing sessions where the sales team has an opportunity to practice a technique in a non-threatening environment. The rest of the team, then, provides feedback and support for those in the role-play.

The timing of this training was critical, as it was scheduled just prior to the company’s first major boat show. And the results were a “proven success,” Wilcox says, as the company sold 45 boats at that show.

“Based on the informal feedback we receive from our customers,” he explains, “this approach to training has elevated our sales team several notches higher than our competitors.”

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