Online Training is Plentiful and Inexpensive (Maybe Even Free)

We live in a changing world.  It seems like every day we hear about some new technology that has an effect on our business.  Either it's some new tool to help us operate more efficiently or it's some new advance in the products we sell that benefits our customers.  Either way, if we're not learning we're not just standing still.  We're actually falling behind.

Once upon a time, just a few years ago, the only way to learn about new developments in our industry was to attend industry trade shows and other events.  It was expensive and time-consuming.  Our sales reps might be able to give us the Reader's Digest version at your place of business, but if you wanted real in-depth training you had to go to where the products and the experts were.

Today, that's all changed.  The amount of training that's available on the web is amazing.  There's virtually nothing that can be learned that can't be learned over the Internet.  All you have to do is run a Google search to find it.

For example, this morning I sat in on an on-line sales training presentation on sewing products.  Using a product called WebEx, our Baby Lock Training Director, Doug Thompson was able to hold a two-way conversation with dealers and walk them through the steps necessary to troubleshoot and repair one of our hi-tech Baby Lock sewing machines.  Think about that.  In the past, the dealer would have had to spend the time and the money to come to St. Louis for the same training.  Because of the expense involved, the training would have to be intense, covering as much material as possible in a short amount of time. The high cost made it unlikely that a retailer would bring his entire staff to a training event, meaning only some would get the necessary training.

Software like WebEx and GoToMeetings, to name just two, allows the presenter to transmit video and graphics from his computer screen to yours.  It's even possible to download files for the presenter's computer.  It's truly amazing.  The software is inexpensive, making it possible for just about anyone, including you, to conduct on-line meetings.

The Baby Lock WebEx training is conducted in bite-size segments, with small groups of dealers.  It can be spread over time, giving the dealer a chance to absorb each segment before moving on to the next.  As the Irish would say, It's brilliant!  Everyone wins. 

This on-line training isn't restricted to just products and service.  Whatever aspect of your business you want to learn about is available somewhere.  If you want to learn about Microsoft software, they offer on-line instruction, as do other software manufacturers.  If you want to learn about sales, or marketing, or advertising, or any other skill you need to be successful, chances are someone has a seminar just waiting for you to attend.

Product-based seminars, like our Baby Lock sessions, are usually restricted to dealers.  Others, like Microsoft, often require you to register which puts you on the sponsor's mailing list.  But if you're interested in the topic, and the sponsor provides a product or service that's connected to that topic, receiving a few selling emails is a small price to pay.  My experience is that once you tell them you're not interested, they usually leave you alone. 

Here's the thing.  There's plenty of down time in most retail businesses, especially now with a weak economy and between selling seasons.  Taking an hour to improve your business skills, or letting your staff spend time in on-line training just makes good sense.  Continuing education is always a good investment.  When the education is free, how can you afford to pass it up?

Something else to think about:  Is there a way you could use on-line meetings to increase your

3 Responses

  1. Mike,

    I enjoyed the article! The Baby Lock Training team also conducts classes that can be attended by consumers. Our Sew@Home program allows owners of our software programs to take live classes too. All they have to do is buy the classes from their dealers. It’s a win/win for everyone!

  2. Linda,

    Thanks for pointing this out. You can learn to do just about anything on the web.

  3. I don’t think many people realize how important marketing is to getting their business noticed. It certainly seems like the new graduates from the local university sure didn’t understand what they were taught in class.:

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