SEMA Member News—March/April 2013
TORA and SEI Launch Product Training Center
The Truck and Off-Road Alliance (TORA) and the SEMA Education Institute (SEI) recently launched an innovative, online product-training program, the SEMA Product Training Center. This new joint program allows manufacturers to efficiently and effectively provide product training to hundreds or even thousands of resellers throughout the industry for what they might spend to reach only a handful using traditional means. TORA helped develop this web-based training solution to complement each manufacturer’s existing training while keeping costs down.
“This online training does not replace any existing training programs that a company might have,” said TORA Chairman George Lathouris of Keystone Automotive. “Rather, it augments those programs by making product knowledge available to thousands of resellers who might not ever have a chance to attend a live training session. After all, even the largest manufacturer can produce only so many training sessions a year. Conversely, smaller retail and installer shops can seldom spare the time and manpower to send someone out for training. The SEMA Product Training Center puts your product information in the hands of any reseller with an Internet connection. And it’s affordable. A 15-minute module is about the same price as a plane ticket for one of a manufacturer’s training staff to fly across the country to see a handful of people.”
While initially developed by TORA, the SEMA Product Training Center is available to all SEMA-member manufacturing companies. Manufacturers may purchase 15- or 30-minute online training modules that will be produced by eLearning consultant Ability Performance Solutions. The training modules will then be housed on SEI’s learning management system and promoted to the entire selling community. While manufacturers must be SEMA members in order to build training modules, resellers need not be SEMA members at present.
“This Product Training Center was always seen as a member benefit to the manufacturers,” said Lathouris. “It was designed to help manufacturers get product information out to the reselling community. As such, we want the manufacturers to be able to promote this to their reselling network, not just SEMA-member resellers.”
Each module is built from content supplied by the manufacturer. The manufacturer provides answers to a questionnaire from Ability Performance Solutions, and the answers are used to build the module. While each module is, of course, unique to a product or product line, the same basic format is used for each one. From the reseller perspective, participants know exactly what kind and type of information will be available, regardless of which manufacturer or product is being reviewed. This consistent template format is one benefit of the new Product Training Center.
Each module also includes tracking and testing. The manufacturer will know who is taking its course(s), and retailers will be able to track their employees’ progress on each product. While each module should take no more than 15–20 minutes to complete, progress can be interrupted if need be and resumed from the same point later.
New counter people or salespeople can utilize the modules to not only learn the basics about a product line, but also get familiar with the marketing materials and catalog information that are downloaded with the module. When a participant returns to the employer’s sales counter and is asked about a product, he or she will already be familiar with where to find the information, having been quizzed by the Product Training Center.
Ability Performance Solutions has a proven track record in the field of online training. Sales brochures or other existing content may be included in the module for download during the training, and the format of the exercises promotes cognitive learning instead of rote memorization.
“Manufacturers that keep customers informed continue to grow, and now a consistent and effective solution has been developed to help train salespeople economically,” said Lathouris. “By using this results-based format, the learning experience is consistent and effective for salespeople.”
The SEMA Product Training Center is designed to be easy to use and includes simple enrollment. For more information or to sign up for a training module, visit the SEMA Product Training Center.
Knowledge is power, and salespeople who understand how your products work mean more sales.