Just because a tool looks simple, has all the right buttons, has pretty pretty pictures, and is a single pane of glass, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to use. And if it’s easy to use but solves a complicated tech problem, will you be able to (in civilian-language) explain its purpose and use to your tech-challenged client in a way that they’ll feel comfortable throwing their money at it?
Maybe, maybe not. The key component to being able to successfully answer those questions is vendor training. I can hear your groans all the way over here y’all. “I don’t have time for training.” “I can figure it out on my own, thankyouverymuch.” “It’s too expensive.” “I have friends who use it, I’ll learn from them.” Let me pass you some cheese to go with that w(h)ine, ok?
Pay the money, do the training.
Look, the reality is that there is a cost to getting trained – even if the training itself is free. Often it can feel like it’s quite expensive to get trained. Because outside of the training itself, there are other costs to your business. Not just financial expenses, but other personal costs.
Time spent at training means dollars lost in client visits, longer hours returning client calls after training hours, playing catch up when you get back, travel expenses, hotels, food, lost family time, and all the stress that comes with recovering from those costs. It’s a lot, for sure.
Training has an impact on every facet of your work and personal life.
“How many times do I have to teach you: just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.” —Shuri
So why do it?
Because the benefits of training far outweigh the costs of training.
Bringing experience and knowledge to your clients sets you up for success. Your responsibility, from a business perspective, includes making sure that you have the right tools to help their company vision come to life. The more you know about those tools and the impact they have on users or on your productivity and security, the better you can support your user base.
The better your clients understand the impact of the tool on their day-to-day, the more likely they are to use it and use it properly. Being properly trained on your tools means you end up, once again, being the hero.
If I learned anything from years of working with customers, it’s that everyone learns differently and at a different pace. Own your learning style. And be adaptable enough to teach others in a way that speaks to their best learning style.
Some folks learn well from self-teaching – they absorb everything they read. I have always been jealous of my colleagues who could pick up a scripting book and by the end they were automating everything and the kitchen sink. That wasn’t me. I’m not very good at self-learning tech. I self-taught myself other technical things like cooking and knitting (if you don’t think there’s physics and algebra in there, think again my friends). But I reached a point where self-learning tech wasn’t happening…I had more specific questions than books or blogs could answer.
Then there are visual learners. You know those folks – they watch a video once and go on to build a fully functional robot. Nope, again, not me. These would get me farther than RTFM would get me, but still didn’t do the trick.
Hands-on learning – this is my style. I need to see it, hear it, and touch it for me to fully understand and retain. And, of course, I need to use it regularly after the training. Use it or lose it, as the saying goes. Proper training does all of this for us.
Sell Sell Sell
While you will likely be using your new <product/service> in your own business, in some cases, you’re going to need to sell this new product to your users. That might mean literally selling it – a transfer of money for product/service – or it might mean selling the idea or behavior change. Either way, you can’t really answer all the questions you’ll be asked if you are unprepared to deal with the performance of the new tool on the varying needs of your customer base.
Many vendors include some sales training in their technical training. It’s almost impossible not to do this. I always liked when a training session included an afternoon of demo training. Because one size fits many but not all, sales demo training gave me an opportunity to learn how to get buy-in for different scenarios. You’ll learn when (and how) to bring in the developer for assistance. And in some cases, you might get lucky enough to have a TAM or sales engineer in on the demo training.
Nobody knows everything (I know, shocking right?). For lots of situations, Googling an answer is fine. But, too often, answers on Google were insufficient or outdated or not backed by anything but anecdotal tales. For these times, you’ll want or need to be able to ask questions directly of the developer. And you’ll want to have this information in your head and in your notes so that when customers ask for relevant information, you’ll have the answer without having to go back to the developer.
That’s the payoff for in-person tech or demo training. You will have built a relationship with the developer. Think about it. Every customer is important to a developer, of course. But if you have a relationship with that developer – if you’ve met them, talked with them, broken bread with them – doesn’t it make sense that they’ll see you’re taking their product and product placement seriously? And wouldn’t they be more likely to spend extra time with you because they know you take product knowledge seriously? Obviously I can’t speak to all developers, but this was my experience when I was placing products at my clients’ office.
Training Impacts Your KPIs
You have problems to solve, businesses to build, and tickets to close. You (probably) don’t have the luxury of spending hours hunting down answers. Training will give you someone to talk with and colleagues to learn from. Both of these will help you get answers to questions faster than waiting around for an answer in a forum. Forums are great if you don’t have an emergency and if you have a good basis of product knowledge. But if you’re new, it’s just not the same as having the experts right there in front of you.
I love to learn. I love hands-on classroom learning. It’s one of the things I budgeted for in my MSP business. Sometimes it was vendor training, other times it was training at a conference. Give yourself a boost – get trained. Your customers will benefit from it. Not a partner yet? Join today and start growing your business with JumpCloud.