Getting More from Your Distributor

With hands-on product demos and the latest training, distributors offer more than merchandise


Like Graybar, many distributors are planning to expand their training offerings in 2008. For instance, Northern Video Systems has a national IP Roadshow running throughout this year to different cities and ADI branches are incorporating A/V Branch Demo Rooms with solutions including home theater, whole house audio and control and automation products. “With these Demo Rooms,” said ADI's Masten , “dealers have a first-hand opportunity to see, touch and use products before presenting them to customers.”

 

Are dealers taking advantage?

Just because quality training is being offered by a distributor doesn't mean dealers or integrators will participate. Many other factors are involved, such as whether enough people even know about the training, if it fits into their schedule and if they can claim official credits through continuing education units ( CEUs ) or otherwise.

“Although some dealers take advantage of training, not all do,” said Stephanie Richter, marketing director, Windy City Wire, Bolingbrook , Ill. “Lack of awareness or time could be the reason. This is why it is important to get the word out as well as schedule a training period with plenty of time to plan.”

“In the rapid pace of the security industry most dealers/integrators find it very hard to schedule a couple of hours to have technicians out of the field,” said John Hyatt, systems manager, Tri-Ed Distribution. “In certain states where CEUs are required, training is mandatory. Consequently, most training is done at the job site or through a brief product overview at a Tri-Ed branch or a dealer's office.” 

Graybar's Koebbe concurred that security dealers are so busy that it's easy for them to miss training opportunities. He also noted that there could be some healthy skepticism that the “training” would actually turn into more of a sales pitch than actual training. He thus offered the following advice, “In general, when a seminar qualifies for continuing education credits, it has been reviewed and certified as a true training opportunity.” 

Another reason that dealers don't take advantage of distributor training as often as they could is because many of them rely on manufacturers to provide their training, said Northern Video Systems' James. “And although [manufacturers] are a good source for training and demos, they are by no means the only source.”