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Sales-agent training methods are not equally effective at educating agents, and among the least effective methods is "coffee-shop training," note industry observers. Coffee-shop training "is where an agent meets a sales manager in a coffee shop, and the sales manager slides a binder across the table and says, 'Read this,'" says Mark Dunn, owner of FieldGuide Enterprises LLC, a Hartland, Wis.-based consulting firm. The method is "training materials without the training," he says. Coffee-shop training "doesn't work," agrees Marc Beauchamp, CEO of Bankcard Boot Camp, a Houston-based provider of agent training. Beauchamp received his industry training in a coffee shop. After breakfast, the sales manager provided Beauchamp with sales leads and told him to start selling. Beauchamp attributes his subsequent industry success to "shear persistence" and to having a previous background in sales. "I know I made so many mistakes those first few months, that with proper training I would have closed much more business for myself as well as my ISO," he says. Despite the difficulty agents encounter with coffee-shop training, some ISOs continue to use the method. "I would hope [coffee-shop training] would be obsolete, but there are those organizations that do not provide any training at all" in the industry, he says.

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