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Stop Training on Products, Start Training on Systems

Stop Training on Products, Start Training on Systems

By Ashlei Williams

At one time, the Internet of Things might have sounded like something from Star Trek, but it’s now commonplace, the thread that ties all of our devices together. At its core, IoT is simply about the breadth of connectivity that the internet offers in today’s world of technology.

Though IoT once felt far-removed, it’s a concept that has become widespread in the mainstream space as companies like Nest began introducing smart home offerings. IoT makes everyday tasks more efficient in both residential and commercial spaces, through technologies including cloud integration, mobility, data analytics, security, etc.

IoT is now featured at many industry trade shows, presentations and trainings. Today, distributors not only have to understand how products work, but also how they work together with other products. Thus, as lightED continues our series on training, we found it fitting to throw IoT into the conversation.

Following is an interview with Catherine Bruce, Director of Marketing for Acuity Brands’ Electrical Distribution. As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of innovative lighting systems, Acuity’s insights on where the industry should be focusing its training efforts proved valuable.

What should distributors be asking their lighting partners about as it relates to training?
Distributors should be asking manufacturers for interactive product training and versions to train their distributor sellers and their contractor customers. Additionally, as it relates to training they should be asking contractors the big question of “how.” How do contractors prefer to receive training? Is it in person, at events, during live webinars, through short videos, or via on-demand mobile and online training?

Can you talk more about how distributors should be interacting with manufacturer partners like Acuity?
It should start with distributors and manufacturers joining together to create curricula for distributor sellers and contractors. The curricula should be engaging and teach not just how to install products and simple features and benefits, but also how to sell, install and maintain connected networks of lighting and controls. Contractors especially need to stay up to date on the latest products and technologies. As lighting has become digital, contractor’s customers need to understand the full value of a connected lighting and controls system – whether it’s reaping the value of energy efficiency or collecting and using data for revenue generation or productivity enhancements.

What is the biggest training need for distributors? 
The training should be centered on understanding new techniques for selling the full value of a connected lighting and controls system. Today, selling on product features, price and services is table stakes.

In terms of technology, where do you think distributors stand in terms of knowledge and ability to fully utilize new developments in the industry?
Distributors’ direct relationship with contractors is very beneficial in terms of them seeing and knowing about what’s new in the industry and on the market. Distributors can treat that unique position as a tool for making them more reliable and knowledgeable partners when it comes to knowing about and understanding new technological developments in the lighting.

For those distributors who need to better understand IoT, where and how should they start learning?
Acuity offers several options for learning about our IoT solutions. In Acuity Academy, distributors can find on-demand training or sign up for in-person sessions at one of our many locations around the country. All of our Lighting Centers feature the latest lighting, lighting controls and building controls solutions – and our instructors educate on how it is the ideal platform for the Internet of Things. Furthermore, our sales teams are able to work with our Lighting Centers and product development teams to create a custom, special visitor experience for distributors and their customers.

Overall, what could the future impacts be if distributors don’t take action to gain the knowledge needed to compete in the next decade? 
Contractors and customers are looking for new technologies. They are looking to partner with distributors that can provide the knowledge and services to lead them along the way. If distributors don’t gain the knowledge needed to compete in the next decade, they could miss out on participating in projects.

Ashlei Williams has been writing for business, philanthropic, minority and academic audiences for a decade. She earned her master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School and bachelor’s in English from Spelman College. In 2016, she started GJC Publicity LLC, focusing editorial, marketing, advertising and creative writing. She resides in Seattle, Washington, where she spends her spare time tutoring with Best In Class Education, in the gym, and checking out the fine arts scene. Get in touch with her via phone 253-693-8711, email ashlei@gjcpublicity.com, or web www.gjcpublicity.com.


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