Five Reasons Why Training for the Future Matters

The one critical factor that is often overlooked is training for future needs. Most dealers train for their immediate needs and don’t worry about future needs. This is a very short-sighted perspective.

The one critical factor that is often overlooked is training for future needs. Most dealers train for their immediate needs and don’t worry about future needs. This is a very short-sighted perspective. Training for future needs positions an organization to make better business decisions and scale for growth. With consistently evolving industry parameters, new digital technologies and a push for advanced business intelligence, training to meet today’s requirements is only part of the train game – future training is the goal.

Here’s 5 reasons to start future training – today.

Our Industry is Changing

One reason to train for the future is the constant change in our industry. Think back 20 years, and we were all selling analog copiers, stand-alone fax machines, and laser printers. We may even have been selling and servicing typewriters.

Those days are gone; in fact, most of those items we used to sell are extinct – sobering, but true.

If you look at industry news, you see that today’s progressive manufacturers are changing the focus of their companies. Industrial printing, network services, applications, artificial intelligence and robots are a few of the products that traditional copier manufacturers are moving into as the push for digital transformation sweeps our industry – and the world.

These companies are changing because they see that business as a whole is evolving – and they’re right.

Your Company is Changing

Just as your company has evolved from the analog days to the digital world, your company will need to continue its evolution moving forward. I recommend taking an in-depth look at what the manufacturers you work with are doing, and see how those changes fit in with your market.

As you identify some of the new opportunities for your company, you need to lead the change. I remember a discussion with a business owner in the early days of digital devices. I asked him for his email address so that I could update him on his training status and other service-related issues. His response was “Send it to one of the administrative personnel, I hate computers.” I thought what a dangerous attitude that was for his business.

Not surprisingly, I was right … his business failed.

New and Different Skills Needed

Once you have a vision of where your business needs to go, it is time to start assessing the operational, digital and strategic organizational skills needed to help achieve and sustain growth. Once you identify the needed skills, then it is time to start training to fill those needs. When looking at training remember that both your Sales and Service departments need to enhance their skills.

On the sales side, the sales representatives will need to thoroughly understand the new opportunities, how to identify the opportunity, and how to properly qualify the client, and how to draft winning proposals. The sales force needs to understand the capabilities of both the equipment and the software solutions they provide. Once they understand the capabilities and limitations of the products they offer, they will be much more effective in offering the right product to the right client and closing the sale.

On the service side, there will usually be product training needed and most probably new skills as well. When we look back at the transition to a digital environment, most dealers failed to address their technician’s digital skills and even today I find many technicians lack the skills that they need to fully perform essential tasks.

Be Prepared for Opportunities

Sad but true, often dealers who have not prepared well for these opportunities lose out on potential business. For example, most manufacturers have a requirement that a dealer have a trained technician before they can purchase a new product. If a dealer is not proactive, an opportunity arises and they can’t meet the delivery deadline – the deal is lost.

Another area to consider is the availability of demo versions of software that your vendor provides. It is possible with a small investment in computer hardware to have these applications available for both sales and service training. This allows the dealership to become proficient in installing and demonstrating the software. This needs to be done before marketing and ahead of finding a possible client.

Recently, I heard of a situation where a dealer found a significant hardware and application opportunity. When they tried to install the software, they didn’t have the needed skills and, as a result, lost the opportunity. By having both the hardware and software available in house, a dealer has the ability to confirm that what they are proposing will work and have it pre-configured so that when the client installation occurs, it works without issues.

Part of this preparation includes making time available for both the sales and service technicians to work with software. For service this would include installing the option on machines, configuring the options and troubleshooting any issues that arises. For sales representatives, it would include developing the ability to demonstrate the product to prospective clients and to train new customers on the basics of operating the system.

Preparation Leads to Success

There are always costs associated with training, and there will be times that you may prepare for a product or service that you do not sell. However, by choosing the products and services that fit your market, the benefits of advance preparation will far exceed the cost of the training involved. The cost you need to consider is the cost of missed opportunities because your staff lacked the needed skills or knowledge.

Ken Edmonds
About the Author
Ken Edmonds is currently employed as a District Service Manager for a major copier manufacturer. He has an extensive background in the imaging business, having owned a successful dealership, serving as service manager for multiple dealerships, and as a Document Solutions Specialist for Sharp Electronics. Additionally, he has more than 40 years of experience in the electronics and computer fields. He has attended the BTA Fix service manager training, the Pros Elite service manager training, and the Service Mangers Achieve Results training conducted by John Hay and John Hansen for Sharp Electronics. He additionally completed the University of Wisconsin training program for technical trainers.