In last month’s “The Art of Managing Canvassing” article I spoke of what you do with a canvasser whose proven they have the skill, attitude and work ethic to excel. First of all it’s fortunate you have such a person. The flip side of the coin is this type of person will become board if they don’t have a new goal, a new drive or a new destination to target.
These are typically type “A” personalities (probably a lot like yourself), they are motivated by the challenge and the advancement. Yes, they can keep pounding the pavement, capturing leads and making more money, but often it’s not the money that really drives these “go getters”.
The natural next step is to give them a title, that of “Field Trainer”. As you’ll see this little addition is a win-win for you and your star canvasser. They’ve mastered your system and proven they can consistently get leads so why not turn your new hires loose with them. The beauty of it is you don’t have to pay these performers any more to work with your new canvassers; they’re still out there getting leads and making commissions.
Often I’ll get asked, “What happens if I have all these field trainers and a few canvassers?” First of all, it won’t happen. Some of your top producers won’t want to train others, and that’s OK. Let them keep doing what they do. You’re looking for those people who have the skills to canvass successfully, but also are interested in helping others learn how to do it as well.
The field trainer position is the next level for a canvasser who wants to climb the ladder toward management. It’s their opportunity to mentor the new hires and less experienced or less successful canvassers. They can role play in the office with others, as well as walk with them while canvassing and give them immediate feedback on their techniques. All they have to do is lead by example.
Make Your Job Easier
From your perspective you’re looking for those people who understand the system and have demonstrated they can book leads. You simply move them into the next generation of their role in the company.
Where do you need help?
- Interviewing / Hiring
You’ve identified a canvasser who can canvass, you simply need to find out if they can transfer what they’ve mastered to others and get them producing.
There’s a lot of “churn and burn” in canvassing. You need a system that’s continually replenishing the herd of new canvassers, but this isn’t something you can successfully take on entirely yourself; and still get all your responsibilities satisfied.
Developing the “field trainer” position will create a new dynamic in your canvassing department and let you accomplish something you probably couldn’t. Think about it, field trainers have come from the streets; in fact they’re still out doing it every day. They’ll be able to connect with new canvassers much more quickly than you can and new hires will be able to identify with them more easily because the field trainer is “one of the guys”, not you… management. Besides, you know our employees often think, “What do they know, they’re not out canvassing. They don’t know how hard it is”. They think you just teach this stuff, but have never actually done it. Having “field trainers” in your mix gets you past this psychological obstacle.
Paring the new hires with the right field trainers will accelerate getting new hires from not producing to producing consistently. This isn’t to say that new hires are to work and walk only with a specific field trainer; that would be virtually impossible based on schedules (full-time vs. part-time, etc.). In fact, it’s beneficial to mix them up and give new people and field trainers a fresh look at people. The bottom line is that field trainers will become invested in their new hires; eager for them to succeed and willing to do what it takes to get them successful (at least the great field trainers will… and those are the people you’re on the lookout for. They’re the ones who’ll move to the next level of management).
Measuring Field Trainer Success
So how do you measure field trainer success? There’s no set formula. This isn’t a one size fits all strategy. You’ll have to monitor and measure your field trainer’s success based on how well their understudies are performing (and you have a matrix for that – refer to the April 2010 article in my Canvassing Insider newsletter).
I determine a field trainer has the skill, mindset and work ethic to be a successful manager when he or she can help 5 new hires hit the goal of the new hire matrix. If a field trainer really wants to accelerate their road to management they’ll start recruiting their friends.
In summary, creating the “field trainer” position can lighten your load, not eliminate, for training. This allows them to eventually assist you in the recruiting, interviewing & hiring, as well as some of the administrative duties; like mapping, map tracking, gathering supplies and results and numbers. It exposes them to responsibilities of managing. They’ve proven themselves as successful canvassers and this new role gives them something new to strive for, while at the same time keeps them in the field producing (for themselves and you), as well finding out if they have the ability to develop others. If they do, keep your eye on them to become full-fledged managers; plus, you don’t have to pay them any more money. If they don’t work out as a mentor to others, you haven’t lost a top producer in the field. A Win-Win.