Developing the best salespeople should be top of mind for company leaders, and plenty of training options exist for distributors that can't afford to establish in-house programs. Industrial Supply Association Administrative Director Gary Cheeseman discussed one of the most affordable, accessible options for distribution professionals looking to improve their sales or leadership skills in The Critical Role of Employee Training.
Cheeseman runs ISA's The Learning Center, which offers online, on-demand courses in five areas: sales management, selling skills, leadership & management, operations & customer service and Microsoft Office. Each area contains 40 courses and costs as little as $100, with enrollees having a year to complete the course work. Cheeseman said the sales and leadership courses have been The Learning Center’s most popular choices as companies look to prepare the next generation for C-level positions.
“There’s a trend in industrial distribution of developing future leaders,” Cheeseman said. “Many of the top executives in the industry are getting close to retirement, so they want to develop the next leaders for their companies.”
Another option for distributors is enrolling in the University of Innovative Distribution, a concentrated educational program focused on the wholesale distribution industry. The organization rebranded from University of Industrial Distribution earlier this year to reflect its diversifying audience across the wholesale industry and also to attract a younger demographic.
The Learning Center and UID are just two examples of resources available to distributors who may not have the resources to build an in-house program, but that recognize the importance of continued training for their work forces.
“If I’m not the best salesperson now but I work to become the best salesperson by learning more, then I’m going to gain business,” says John Jacobsen, vice president of sales and marketing at DGI Supply. “If I don’t and someone else is doing it, then I probably will lose business. It’s one thing to have the product training, but having business acumen – knowing why and how a customer makes decisions – is as important as applying a tool in a production process.”
Read more about why companies must provide education and training opportunities for their work force in The Critical Role of Employee Training.