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Five things to know before creating your new training program.

Training helps professionals become better communicators, more effective managers, or more profitable salespeople. Training is the connection between your people, your products, and your customers that ensures a return on time and financial investment. Training is marketing. It is an extension of your brand. And it is critical to your success.

Ten Pound Hammer took on the project of asking dealers in the custom kitchen and bath industry about the issue of training. Here are five things we learned from our survey respondents that are crucial for a successful training program.

1. Assess the ROI of training programs.

The survey confirms that dealers feel more confident in brands that provide training, resulting in an increased tendency to recommend those brands. That equals sales. At the end of the day (or fiscal quarter), sales is the only metric that matters. Often, it needs to be measured over a long period of time and sales don’t instantly drop off when training efforts are cut.

2. Different objectives require different tools.

One of the clear findings from this survey is that there needs to be a variety of training approaches, platforms, and resources. Dealers need a specific training tool at each point along the product journey. They need a big-picture understanding to talk about the product and sell it to customers. They also need to know the design implications and have installation training. Any uncertainty due to lack of training or familiarity will lead to a general recommendation, rather than dealers specifically offering your product. Finally, dealers must have tools to help manage the ordering system.

3. Understand the need for an ongoing commitment.

The key to a successful training program is a long-term, intentional commitment. The significant danger is to create a program to support a big product launch, and then ignore training of any kind until the next big marketing event, essentially making your initial launch investment a waste of money.

4. Training is just one part of the dealer relationship.

When brands consider their relationship with the dealer channel, regardless of the vertical market, they must view it as a fragile relationship that needs constant attention. It’s all about building brand loyalty. But everything hinges on the brand’s ability to communicate effectively with dealers.

5. Remember, training is marketing.

Training is the communication of ideas designed to create some change in behavior. That is why it’s critical to approach training with the same discipline and long-term perspective used in any marketing campaign.

You can’t figure out where you need to go until you know where you are. Starting to determine next steps for your training brings to mind the old adage, “how do you eat an elephant?” Having eaten a few elephants, we’ve developed a few ways to get started. Click here to request a copy of our white paper on the relationship between sales and training.

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