In Ryan Deiss’ keynote address at the 2017 Traffic & Conversion Summit, he had a message for all businesses:
Pause for a moment and take stock of your business. Are YOU investing in your employees? How often do you organize training for your staff? And we’re not talking about new hires running through the old employee handbook or training on a new system or software. We’re talking about general industry training, channel updates and management approaches along with client interaction coaching. Does your agency train its staff on an ongoing basis in these areas?
If the answer is no — or perhaps a shaky yes — but you know you’re not training your team as much as you should, don’t feel bad. It’s a very common issue in agency land. After all, agency performance and revenue comes from the efficient use of your talented team’s time. Time is the day-to-day primary currency of your agency. So, the thought of stopping for training sessions can be daunting, let alone finding the right outside training or investing the time it takes to produce useful, detailed training materials. None the less, training is an essential part of your company’s success and if you manage it well, it can be worth the time spent. Here’s why:
Keeping Up To Date
In a fast-paced and ever-evolving industry like digital marketing, there is significant importance on staying up to date as things change. That said, many agencies and businesses have a stance that it is up to the employees to stay connected and aware of changes and emerging technology. While the approach to put emphasis on self-learning and pride in your industry does have its place, there are risks involved.
Even an employee who keeps up to date could be learning biased or controversial materials depending on where they’re looking. This can lead to a disconnect between the beliefs of the individual and that of the agency or brand they represent. Group training led by senior members of the agency (or even sending employees to off-site training or conferences) can help combat this by bringing a singular voice and thought process.
If you have many staff members being trained together, it is far more likely that all will arrive at the same conclusion when discussing industry changes and developments. In turn this means the agency has a more unified approach.
After all, you don’t want clients to receive conflicting views or advice from different individuals within the same agency. By training staff together, the agency is coached to share one view on any given topic.
Give Your Employees Extra Confidence
There is nothing like a refresh or a more advanced look at topics you are already familiar with to boost employee confidence in those areas, particularly when it comes to talking about them with authority in front of clients or at industry events.
Training doesn’t always require a new subject or a big industry change. Back up your current training approach with regular sessions that share successful internal and external case studies to validate your agency’s approach and strategy. Arming your employees with knowledge and data on a regular basis will also top up their confidence.
A Chance to Be Inspirational
The importance of delivering inspirational leadership is something we discussed in our recent post, Agency Owners: How to Boost Your Team’s Morale. The ability to lead by example is crucial to inspiring your staff. The best leaders are those able to talk passionately about what they do, what the agency stands for and even conduct training sessions that inform and motivate.
It’s one thing to be armed with all the latest data and have a fresh bill of confidence from a recent training session, but it is another thing entirely to be inspired by that session enough to really want to go out there and put that new information in to practice. Use your team training sessions as a chance to reinforce the great work being done by your agency and how it’s genuinely helping businesses to succeed and grow. Sometimes self-belief and belief in what you’re doing is almost more important than just knowing how to do it well. Get out there and inspire by example.
Produce Better Overall Work
If your work force is up to date and equipped with the best information and intelligence around a given area, they’re more likely to produce best-in-class work. Add to that the confidence to take that work to clients and a genuine inspiration to do a great job and guess what? They’ll more often than not do a better job than before. This means a better overall quality of work produced by your agency.
Better work means better results. Those results translate to happier clients who pay on time. This also creates better upsell potential. All this training isn’t just for show, it does genuinely pay off in real business and bottom line terms if it’s done right.
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Improve Your Agency’s Reputation
Better work isn’t just about upselling to your current clients, it’s also about improving your agency reputation and attracting new clients. Producing better work is an opportunity to show off, build better case studies, elicit more client recommendations and have a much bigger armory of outstanding results to share on demand.
Taken a step further and producing best in class or cutting edge work as a result of being up to date and at the forefront of any given digital channel also means you should be naturally in contention for industry awards and accolades. This is an area some agencies forget to consider or simply miss out on by not having enough genuinely outstanding work to showcase. Both morale and client confidence are both boosted by a shiny and full trophy cabinet.
Staff Progression and Retention
One of the things you’ll likely hear from your staff is a desire for professional development. If you’re in the unfortunate position of not having internal training processes in place, many employees will feel trapped and unable to move up. Time to learn and the resources to do so are just as important as providing a competitive salary.
Offering training helps to progress your staff and turn newcomers and agency veterans alike into better-rounded agency workers. Training can also unlock their potential and lead to existing staff members taking on more responsibility and a greater range of tasks than they do currently.
With the prospect of a brighter future and internal development program at their disposal, your valuable team members are less likely to look elsewhere when considering their future career prospects.
What Do You Think?
How do you feel about continuous staff training? Do you have any tips to share with our readers for approaches or resources that have worked well in your agency? We’d love to hear your thoughts.