Have you ever watched a monkey peel a banana? They actually peel them from the bottom up. That's right, they squeeze the black knot located at the bottom of the banana, causing the exterior cover to split. That little pinch makes the process just about effortless without ever damaging the fruit.

Compare that to the traditional human approach, which typically involves twisting and turning the stem at the top, requiring much more effort. And the result is often a half-smashed banana.

So why do most people choose to peel the banana the hard way? In a word, training. No one taught them differently. Most people will simply imitate whatever they see or hear going on around them, unless advised otherwise.

Fruits of Our Labors

That's why it pays to invest in training the people who market for you. The less time and money spent on training, the more it costs you in the long run. Well-trained marketers can produce amazing results that outperform most other lead sources. Those with poor training or no training can cause unnecessary expense and headaches that drag your marketing department down and diminish profits.

Most company owners accept the idea that sales recruits need to move through a training program before running leads. Why not marketers? After all, they're selling the appointment. That training program for marketers should have an outline that begins with basics (a tour of your office facility), includes various meetings with relevant staff, and proceeds from there. You'll also want to provide training materials and scripting in written, audio, and video form.

Project Ongoing

So your new hire has completed his or her initial training and shadowed existing employees. Now comes the most important part of the process, and one that's often missing or given short shrift. I'm talking about ongoing, i.e., continuous, training; training that doesn't stop.

Developing and including a format for ongoing training will have a huge impact on the continued success of individual marketers and the entire department. A monthly training calendar is a great place to start. Organizing a structured routine helps make training part of your company culture. Establishing and monitoring performance goals at regularly scheduled plan-and-review sessions also helps keep staff members on course.

Ultimately, keeping training fresh can be a challenge. Vary your topics from, say, company to product to competitor knowledge, presentation, technique, and motivation. Sometimes even relevant industry news topics help employees see the big picture and the importance of what they do. Minus this training, marketers may simply come to feel they're working a mindless part-time job.

Make It a System

The key is to have a plan or systematic approach. Ronald Reheard of F&I Training shared this method for S.M.A.R.T.E.R. training in Agent Entrepreneur:

Specific ? Provide specific daily training assignments.M
Measurable ? Track training activity not just performance.
Affordable ?Training makes it easy to measure your ROI.
Real world ? It's not about what worked yesterday, it's about what works today.
Tenable ? Determine what it will take, realistically, to sustain your ongoing training program long-term.
Embraced ? How will marketers see it, as something to improve skills or as punishment?
Rewarding ? It always comes down to: What's in it for me? There have to be consequences, both positive and negative, for doing/not doing the training.

Train for Excellence

This type of clearly planned strategy for ongoing training will help ensure that new talent adopts your consultative approach to marketing without defaulting to their comfort zone at the first sign of rejection. It is not natural to be excellent!

Unfortunately, we can't earn money simply by peeling a banana. Maybe if we could we'd all learn the best way to do it. However, we can earn substantially through our canvassers, telemarketers, and show and event staff, so doesn't it make sense to train them in the most effective means possible?

—Sales and marketing consultant Tony Hoty has been a home improvement company salesperson and owner. Visit his website or reach him at tony@tonyhoty.com or 888.447.3969.