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Dealer Training Programs: ANew Trend

In India, the corporate training market was pegged at Rs 25 billion (by the end of
2004) and was growing at a rate of 30% annually. Though sales training was not a
new concept in Indian industry, the trend of extending sales training initiatives to
business partners was slowly catching up. The automobile companies were among the
first to inlplement dealership training programs. For example, when Maruti got the
highest rank in customer satisfaction in the JD Power Asia Pacific India customer
satisfaction index (CSt) study in 2000, it launched 'Project Hat Trick' in consultation
with NIS Sparta, a leading training and consulting organization. The project aimed at
creating excitement among the service staff (of the dealers) and also imparting the
knowledge and know-how required to satisfy the customer. As part of the project, the
service supervisors were trained on the aspect of customer delight and managers were
trained on leadership and business planning aspects. The service mechanics were
given training in the areas of self-empowerment and behavioral interventions. This
also belped to bring aboUl attitudinal changes in the dealer segment to meet the
demands of customers. Consequently, Maruti received the award for the next two
consecutive years.
Speaking on the issue of training in the automobile sector, Mr. Vijay Kohli, Vice-
President, NIS Sparta, said, "Training in this sector is also quite different from others
as here the customer expects sales executives to know the features, advantages, and
benefits of each and every part of your vehicle. Not only that, the customer also
expects the executives to know even the technical side and the product advantages
over others to make hislher decision."t
The program helped thc company to rctain the top position for the three consecut;ve
years starting from 2000. In 2002, it topped in four out of five factors of the customer
satisfaction index (CSI) and received highest score of 124 as against the industry
average of 118.

Consumer appliances manufacturers were also focusing on these areas in light of cut-
throatcompetition, increased customer expectations, and the increased complexity of
the product line. For example, Philips India Ltd. (Philips) a leading consumer
appliances company, launched a dealer training program in 2000 called 'Unique
Selling Program' (USP) aimed at creating awareness about its products among the
dealer sales personnel as well as. to enhance their soft-selling skills. The training
program consisted of the following elements - role play, presentations, hands-on
demos, and group working. The role players enabled the participants to comprehend
the features of the products thoroughly. The hands-on demos trained the participants
on conducting product demonstrations to the customers. In the group working module,
participants wcre allowed to team up with other members and conduct demos without
the help of the trainers. Through this program, Philips aspired to enhance the
salesperson's selling skills, communication skills, and sales closing techniques. The
company conducted 40 such training programs covering 25 cities across India. The
program was a success as it helped the 'cmnpany to improve its market share in big

"Training Helped Maruti Bag Customer Service Award," The Hindu Business Line,
January 9, 2003.