More Training Leads to More Sales
Resurgence of dealer education improves close rates and communicationsMarch 13, 2013 By Nancy Klosek
To make matters worse, most vendors cut back their dealer training budgets during recessions. But that trend is changing as more vendors realize that dealer training increases revenues and profits for both parties.
“Manufacturers making resources available to do that, who take it seriously, are the ones winning in the share race,” said Jack Halperin, the senior vice president of dealer channel sales at Almo. The distributor runs several Expo events each year with training at their core, and plans to increase training during the Expos this year.
The need for training is especially acute on the appliance side, as suppliers introduce new front-load laundry, dishwashing and refrigeration technologies—with models featuring LCD screens and Internet connectivity—to these historically staid categories.
“They’re very interested in making sure the dealers have a pretty clear idea of how to convey features, advantages and benefits,” Halperin said. “Because that’s how these independent dealers compete with big boxes—by providing a second-to-none shopping experience based on product and technology knowledge.”
BSH, marketer of the Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau brands, plans its training on that assumption. It opened a 17,000-square-foot Experience and Design Center in Irvine, Calif., where more than 600 dealers received hands-on training designed to highlight product innovations. The programs range from primary and experiential training to a Masters Program that delves into the engineering behind the Thermador line of luxury appliances, and a Chef Program, tailored to professionals.
“In product categories where we have concentrated our education resources, we’ve seen a phenomenal growth without any negative impact to sales in our other categories,” said Damon Trout, senior national product training specialist for BSH. “We’ve been able to measure significantly greater sales increases for our dealers who actively participate in our training programs when compared with dealers in the same market who are less active.”
Comprehensive dealer training has also helped to close higher-ticket sales in CE. Resurgence in consumer interest for audio jumpstarted the sales of headphones, but targeted training has helped even more. “Headphones had been around for a hundred years, but there’s been a huge growth in the last two years because they brought innovation and technology back to that category,” Halperin said. “Manufacturers have spent time and resources in educating the consumer, not just about design but also about sound quality, and we spend time in our Expos on headphones as well.”