Podcast: Why Online Training Gives You the Edge

December 13, 2011

I caught up with Lisa Bordeaux from BlueVolt recently to talk about the importance of using online training. Everyone is looking for ROI. 

BlueVolt provides online training centers for manufacturers, distributors, buying groups and trade associations. They have delivered more than 1 million courses to date. They have been a strategic partner of ours for over 5 years and have helped several of our clients in this area.

Lisa explains the differences of why Manufacturers and Distributors use it and why their reasons are different. She also talks about the different ways to learn – Observations, Conferences, Classroom and Self-Study.

Here are a few highlights:

Training – It’s not on fire (easy to push out) – but in our customers’ experience – it’s one of the most significant things you can do for the bottom line. We have customers telling us certified people are outpacing their industry averages by 16-24% YOY. Not sure what other efforts have that impact.

Training – get it as close to the guy as possible – usually folks have 10 minutes in the afternoon to learn something – our buying group customers – say their member employees spent the ten minutes surfing a supplier site for product information – but by bringing it all in one place and putting the incentives on it, like we do – they spend the 10 minutes becoming better sellers – and that’s time well spent.

Enjoy. Listen here.


Why Online Training Gives You the Edge

November 7, 2011

I caught up with Lisa Bordeaux from BlueVolt recently to talk about the importance of using online training. Everyone is looking for ROI.

Lisa explains the differences of why Manufacturers and Distributors use it and why their reasons are different. She also talks about the different ways to learn – Observations, Conferences, Classroom and Self-Study

Listen to the Podcast:

Download the Podcast (MP3)


Free Online Training Webinar: Learn How You Can Launch a Course in Under a Week

November 18, 2010

Are you looking for a repeatable way to provide training to your customers so your sales people can focus on selling?

Explore options for online training, best practices, what not to do and how you can launch a course in under a week. The presenter, Lisa Bordeaux from Bluevolt, a leading online training source for suppliers, distributors and end users, will be our presenter.

Join us to learn more about how manufacturers are developing product training courses that educate people on their products and building product experts in the field.

Our research shows that Distributor sales people recommend products to customers 2-5 times per day. They recommend what they know and most of the products they sell they have never seen in application. Learn how others are bringing those products to life online and making it easier to educate and market to the channel with partners, buying groups, customers and others.

Details:

Tuesday, December 7th, 2-3 PM EST. Register here.

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New Product Launches: Don’t Overlook Your Distributor Partners

August 12, 2010

Many manufacturers are so focused on the features and benefits of their new product that they sometimes forget about educating and motivating their distributors to insure a successful launch.

Distribution is a key link in the launch and if your distribution isn’t on board or even understands what or where this product fits into your overall strategy, it’s going to be hard for them to sell. Let’s face it, especially in today’s economy, a distributor needs to understand why he should invest in inventory of this new widget.

Here are some tips to help make sure your distribution is on board:

  • Give them plenty of notice - They need to know 45-60 days in advance so they can get the new SKUs into the system, onto the promotion calendar and most importantly, get you that initial stocking order.
  • Incentivize the initial stocking order - Give them an additional discount on that first order or give them extended dating or waive your minimum order requirements. The key here is to make sure they have your product on the shelf so when the contractor comes in and asks for it, they have it.
  • Train/educate distributor sales force - It’s an important step in the process that’s often overlooked. Many manufacturers assume they understand the big picture, and most of the time, it’s not the case. With time and travel expenses being what they are, traditional things like lunch-and-learns may not be the best way to introduce the new product. You might want to use an online training tool like BlueVolt that can both train, verify and motivate the sales team.
  • SPIF sales – For at least the first 3 months, put some sort of incentive on the product to get the sales folks excited. Put yourself in their shoes. Most distributors carry anywhere from 15,000-25,000 different items. Which ones do you think they will be talking about? And oh by the way, don’t overlook those inside and CSRs. They have 5-7 times the number of contacts with customers everyday and can talk up new products and create add-on sales (do you want fries with that?)
  • Make key end user calls - This seems like a no-brainer, and while you the manufacturer might be making those calls, you don’t always include the distributor in them. Chances are that key potential for you is already a key customer for the distributor. He can make sure you get in front of the right people and brings a relationship to the table.

These are some simple ways to insure your new product launch is successful.

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Distributor Survey Shows Online Training from Manufacturers Helps Them to Recommend and Sell More Products

May 19, 2010

If you’re a manufacturer who sells through a distribution channel, you need to think about training. A recent survey by BlueVolt indicates that distributors who are trained online recommend and sell more.

It makes sense – most distributors stock over 20,000 items and it’s impossible for them to know about each one of them. It stands to reason if they feel comfortable about a product, it makes it easy for them to recommend it.

Think beyond new product launches as well. Look at some of your core product that might be considered by the end user as a commodity. What better way to differentiate your product from the pack than by training the people who have influence over what users buy?

And what’s more interesting is that these folks are requesting online training mentioning manufacturers by name. Talk about an opportunity! You need to think of training as a selling tool, not a marketing expense.

About the study:
BlueVolt, starting in the fall of 2009, sent out a survey to employees of distributors who took online training within the major buying groups and associations. Among the industries covered were Electrical, Plumbing, HVAC, PVC, Construction, Industrial and Flooring. Job titles included sales (inside and out), counter people and CSRs, to name a few. A total of 1291 surveys were sent out and 1210 were returned for a 94% return rate. The respondents were given the opportunity beyond just answering the questionnarie to identify, by name, those manufacturers they wanted more training from.

Regarding increasing sales and improving customer service:
- 81% said that they sell more as a result of learning through BlueVolt
– 94% said their customers rely on them to recommend products or manufacturers
– 89% said that they service their customers better as a result of online training from BlueVolt
– 63% said they recommend products at least once a day
– 57% said they recommend products 2-5 plus times a day

If you like this post, please pass it on.

Here are other posts that might be of interest to you:

Use Online Training to Educate Tradesmen Part 1

Use Online Training to Educate Tradesmen Part 2


How to Use Content to Find Professional Tradesmen

May 21, 2009

TradesmenInsights.1You may have the best widget in town, readily available and priced to sell. You need to determine their hot buttons and what trips their trigger. But to get the tradesman interested, you need to:

Get their attention. Address the (WIIFM) “what’s in it for me” question. We need them to feel excited about your new widget and eager to learn how it can make their job easier and more profitable. Use “how to” videos, case studies and online training as ways to get them engaged. Raise questions.

Covert to a customer. Now that you have their attention, what do you do? You need to soft sell and persuade them that your solution is best for them. Build your case, establish the trust factor and then send them to a well-constructed landing page that gives them an offer they can’t refuse and a clear call to action.

Remember, content is king and it defines who you are. Sonia Simone has an interesting post, 49 ways to profit from content marketing, that should give you some guidelines to consider.

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