Training your brand reps – why, when, and how?
June 21, 2019
Everyone knows that training a new employee is important. After all, however experienced your new hire is, you can’t expect them to automatically absorb all the rules and customs of your business just by entering the premises.
But training is far more than the few hours (or days) the new employee spends with learning the ins and outs of your business’ operations. In fact, training is an ongoing process that even veteran employees should regularly participate in.
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Employee training: why is it important?
Gone are the days when employees were required to do the same thing over and over without any promise of development. In today’s increasingly competitive job market, employers who want the best talent need to think of ways to attract and retain workers.
Professional training for employees and development opportunities are excellent ways to make any job offer more compelling. After all, according to a recent study, 18% of job seekers rank professional development as a priority when considering a job offer.
Corresponding to that, LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report found that “43% of talent developers expect a budget increase in 2019.” This means that your competitors are most likely offering development opportunities and training for employees. If you want to retain your workers and give your clients the best possible service, you should do that too.
What kind of training to offer for employees depends on – obviously – the nature of your business. It’s important that you have a solid training strategy in effect that incorporates your company’s training goals, frequency, subject matters, and feedback channels.
Training brand ambassadors
As you can see, training is very important for all employees. However, when it comes to brand ambassadors, you’ll have to introduce a special kind of employee training.
Brand representatives or ambassadors are employees of your business whose main goal is to raise brand awareness and increase sales. In order to do this, brand ambassadors have to possess deep knowledge of your business.
But that’s not enough. On top of that, your brand reps need to have a very special skill set that allows them to build trust with prospective clients.
Employee training for business knowledge
When your brand ambassadors reach out to a potential client, they need to be able to answer any questions. How your service or product works, how you guarantee quality, how your customer support operates, and so on.
Your brand reps need to be familiar with all of your processes if they want to earn the trust of clients. But this means that you need to teach them first.
Organize regular trainings on all relevant aspects of your business’ operations so your brand reps can gain insight into the processes. They don’t need in-depth knowledge, but they have to be familiar enough to answer the most common questions with confidence.
Training for employees in soft skills
On the other hand, brand ambassadors need to have a wide array of soft skills before they can approach clients. A brand rep needs to be polite, eager to help, positive, enthusiastic about your products or services, and persistent without seeming aggressive.
While these soft skills need to be present in a person before becoming a brand ambassador, they can and should be further enhanced through training. Personality tests, for example, are a great way for people to learn about themselves and become aware of unconscious habits.
In addition, knowledge about psychology can help a brand rep better understand the client’s needs and motivation.
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How to train employees as brand ambassadors
That’s great, but what if you lack the budget to employ brand ambassadors? Or, alternatively, you may want all of your employees in customer-facing roles to be knowledgeable and enthusiastic about your business.
Luckily, there’s a solution: you can train “regular” employees as brand ambassadors. All you need is some time set aside for specific training exercises. Don’t think that these are a waste of time.
In fact, a survey has shown that companies with more engaged employees have up to 3.9 times higher earnings per share than companies with less enthusiastic employees. Plus, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, 41% of customers place higher trust in the opinion of a company’s employees than its PR people, CEO, or founder.
This all points toward one thing: when it comes to representing your brand, your employees have a surprisingly high value. Let’s not waste that.
Branding exercises for employees
If you want all your employees to become more aware of and enthusiastic about your brand, you can introduce several fun and thought-provoking exercises into their regular training.
Brand as a person
Ask your employees to think of your brand as a person. Is it young or old? Male or female? What are its favorite clothes, food, movies, or sport?
When you’re ready, you can take the game to the next level. Imagine your customers as a person, too. Figure out their personality traits and how they relate to your brand. Are they relatives? Friends? Roommates?
This exercise, while it’s serious fun, helps your employees better understand the brand and find the deeper connections between your business and its customers.
Think of adjectives to describe your brand. For example, let’s say it’s reliable, flexible, and attentive. Now think of related adjectives that you don’t want your brand to be. It’s reliable but not rigid. Flexible but not reckless. Attentive but not overly compliant.
This exercise will help narrow down your brand in your employees’ imagination.
Tell your story
Ask your employees to come up with a traditional story for the brand as a person. Who’s the main character? Who’s the villain? What’s the brand trying to accomplish? What kind of obstacles are there on the way?
Just like the previous exercises, this task will help humanize the brand and bring it closer to your employees.
If your business employs specific brand ambassadors, it’s important that you provide them with all the necessary training. They can’t excel at their job without real knowledge about your business’ processes, products or services, values, and culture.
If you lack the funding for brand reps, don’t worry. Your most powerful brand ambassadors are your employees. Recognize their value and organize regular branding exercises for your employees to maximize their enthusiasm and engagement with your brand.