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Budgetary concerns plague us all in times of economic uncertainty. We focus on the essential and drop what we can live without. Employee training always seems to fall within the expendable category during times of economic instability, but it is a critical component of business growth and should not be so easily put aside for more profitable times. Increased sales rarely come without a staff who can sell, and it’s a better investment to train and work with the staff you have than investing in a new team. Employees can steer you back to a more lucrative cycle of operation-if they have a goal and are trained properly.With training comes improved member satisfaction, increase sales, more productivity, higher profitability, less employee absenteeism and lower turnover.These results are gained when employees are engaged through training, whether the program is focused on educating staff on a new branch, using a new sales tool or teaching managers to become better sales coaches. Training has a domino effect. Enhance and guide the employee experience and everything else will fall into place. Giving direction and goals to employees increase productivity, which stimulates better member service, resulting in a more satisfied member, prompting increased sales and a higher profitability for the organization.Despite these benefits, we often find ourselves defending the need for training. Here are some ideas for gaining support for your next training initiative:Be specific about the sales targets you want to achieve. As the old adage goes, what gets measured gets done. Explain which products and services will experience a gain through training, and the percentage of increase that is expected. And most importantly, demonstrate how you will track the results of the training program, in whatever form that may be-new deposits, referrals, or cross sales. Establish employee accountability. The purpose of training is to improve employee sales performance. Set a specific goal and make sure both management and employees are aware of the program objective.Walk through exactly how training will drive new sales. Explain what the training will consist of, why it’s needed, and how it will help accomplish your goals. What skill set is your staff lacking? What is hindering them from making a connection with members or closing a sale? Clarify what employees need help with and illustrate the type of educational program that should be delivered. Detail what the program will cover, and how it will help employees achieve the established sales goal.State what sales mark you have to hit to reach an ROI. Often the minimum sales mark that must be met to receive a return on investment for training is much lower than one expects. The simplest way to illustrate what your sales team will need to achieve this mark is to calculate what the average value of a new deposit is for your institution, and how many new accounts need to be opened to gain a profit from training. For a $20,000 investment, you may only need to generate two new accounts per month for a period of 12 months to gain a return on your investment. It can be as simple as that.Express what will happen if you don’t do training. It’s important to take into consideration the opportunities the organization will miss if you decide to delay training. Training is a business retention tool for members and employees. The average cost of replacing an employee runs about 30% of the employee’s salary. And the loss of a member can be equal to, or more, of a financial setback. In addition, you will miss out on the sales lift. But with training comes a natural type of culture change. Employees have a clear purpose and are more secure in their jobs, and as a result are happier, more satisfied and confident with clients.Employee education shouldn’t fall to the wayside when times get tough. Boost employee morale and productivity to increase sales. Training is the best defense against a slow economy.

Peter Westerman

Credit Union Times

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