Innovation headlines BlueVolt’s seventh-annual LEAP Ahead Conference for channel sales companies

Manufacturing and distribution industry pros unlock strategies for educating workers

Portland, Ore. – July 5, 2018 – From June 19-20, 2018, BlueVolt held its LEAP Ahead conference focused on inspiring innovation in business learning for distributors and manufacturing companies. BlueVolt President Douglas Gastich set the tone for the seventh-annual LEAP conference with words from writer William Gibson who said, “The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.”


Gastich underscored how sales representatives, warehouse workers and clerks are not a captive audience; they can easily turn off training that doesn’t quickly meet their needs. According to Gastich, educating distributors to sell effectively takes innovative tools that show the value of a manufacturer’s newest products. Gastich highlighted how embracing high-tech, high-touch learning builds brand awareness and boosts sales for distributors.


Conference keynoter Dirk Beveridge, founder of the UnleashWD Innovation Summit and author of a series of best-selling books on sales strategies for distributors, delivered a speech titled “Winning in the Age of Rapid Change,” which challenged attendees to imagine a new distribution-manufacturer relationship. Changing customer requirements, intensified competition from the likes of Amazon, and commoditization, said Beveridge, will force the distribution industry to adopt innovative models to succeed. Beveridge noted distributors are most profitable when selling a manufacturer’s newest products to end users. But this, he said, takes distributors who want to learn not only about a manufacturer’s products but also a suite of solutions for customers. Solution selling, said Beveridge, will “lead distributors’ customers (ranging from skilled trades to builders) to a better future for which these customers are willing and able to reward distributors.”


Dr. Jennifer Murphy, a cognitive psychologist and CEO of Quantum Improvements Consulting showed attendees how to use data and free, publicly available tools, tactics and templates for designing innovative learning and measuring its effects. She served up case studies featuring a decade’s worth of experience measuring the effects of innovative technologies for improving military marksmanship and gunnery. “We can all use data to predict learning outcomes and evaluate training effectiveness,” said Murphy. “Most of our problems can be solved with data, things like attitude surveys, knowledge tests, time on task. The more information we have about the learning process the more efficient we can be; the more innovative we can be.”


Dr. Arthur Kohn, a Fulbright professor of cognitive science and president of AKLearning, spoke about the critical role teaching, and preparing the mind to learn, plays in educating sales people and customers. He challenged attendees to distill learning into “two minutes of training within five minutes of need to an audience of one.” He admitted it wasn’t always possible, but encouraged attendees to focus their educational content for behavioral change. “Teach as little as possible,” said Kohn. His less-is-more mantra resonated with an audience wanting to develop memorable education that spurs action.


Educational speaker and corporate coach Mark Griffiths, a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development, led attendees from small-group discussion to a blitz of statistics, news clips and case studies for how technology enhances learning and, in turn, motivates employees to become career-long learners, which boosts recruitment, retention and profits.


Day two of the conference featured workshops on: marketing online universities; creating engaging online courses; analyzing and reporting on learning; and strategies and tips for educating channel partners. For information about the conference or to download presentations, click here.


About BlueVolt Founded in 2002, BlueVolt is a Portland-based eLearning solutions company that increases sales, builds brand affinity and enhances employee productivity for channel-oriented organizations. Along with its learning management system, the company offers a range of client-focused services, including course and curriculum development, strategic support, channel-training innovations, and software integrations that make learning a strategic asset. BlueVolt serves channel-based industries that recognize training as a business strategy, including organizations in the skilled trades and SaaS providers.

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