Improv is a key part of comedy and theater, but one jewelry chain has taken that acting skill and is bringing it into its sales training, in part to help its salespeople think on their feet and be their true selves with their clients.
Sissy’s Log Cabin is known for its customer service, and William M. Jones IV says part of his job at the jewelry store chain is building a training program that continues that tradition. Jones is founder Sissy Jones’ grandson, a third-generation jeweler and vice president of operations for the Arkansas-based business.
Once a month, a local actor comes into the central Little Rock store and does improv training with a small group of staff members, Jones says, focusing on relationship building, genuine conversational skills, and helping associates feel comfortable with clients in every situation.
Jones says he believes improv training boosts a salesperson’s skill base in terms of blending product knowledge with customer communication.
“The key thing is we’re not training our people to go out and act in front of our customers. What we’re doing is working on skills to be more honest and put ourselves out there. This is about adding more tools to your toolbox,” Jones says.
The idea to bring in an improv actor started as Jones thought about how business leaders and executives would use improv training to help with speeches, pitching events, and overall communication. He sought out an improv actor he knew locally; she is a film and theater actor and her husband is a film director in the area.
The overall goal is to help store associates feel “comfortable and confident” in any store situation, he says. Jones says he believes every interaction with a customer from the moment they walk in the door should be considered, and that’s why he focuses so closely on the training process from start to finish.
“It’s about learning to trust yourself,” Jones says. “Improv puts you in a situation where even when you feel really stuck, you have to work through it. It gives you the tools that when you feel like you’ve been put on the spot, you can keep your confidence and get past it.”
Jones says he enjoys coming up with unique training programs, including the Sissy’s Log Cabin University, a series of online courses that helps new and established associates learn the basics of the company’s culture, sales techniques, and advanced skills.
He also likes doing videos that educate and entertain customers, bringing a touch of Sissy’s Log Cabin to YouTube or Facebook. His favorite costar on some of his Facebook Live events, especially during the pandemic, was his grandmother, Sissy, who’d tell her own stories while customers who were listening could ask questions.
“I know of ladies who could drive on average an hour and half to come to one of our stores and meet my grandmother,” Jones says. “If they go to that trouble to be here, we need to answer their questions, spend time with them, and make it a great experience.”
Top: Sissy’s Log Cabin puts significant emphasis on employee training, including bringing in an improv actor to work with its sales team and associates. Here, Robert Dooms and Alejandra Romero go over some customer-experience training (photos courtesy of Sissy’s Log Cabin).@jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine