Horizon launches interactive CD-ROM retailer product training

Horizon Fitness has taken a step to provide training to its retailers and staff by releasing a sales training program complete with a CD-ROM that store managers can use to teach salespeople basic product information and how to sell to customers.

Horizon Fitness has taken a step to provide training to its retailers and staff by releasing a sales training program complete with a CD-ROM that store managers can use to teach salespeople basic product information and how to sell to customers.

Horizon recognized the need for training for fitness retailers – both specialty and sporting goods -- and found a tool in the bike industry with a Trek Bike program that they liked and could emulate. So the DeForest, Wis.-based company hired the same agency to prepare its program.

The interactive CD-ROM will initially become a part of the on-site trainings that Horizon does at its specialty retailers and the regional trainings for larger sporting goods stores. Those are designed not only for newbies who need to understand the basics of a piece of equipment, such as motor size and how an elliptical works, but also for seasoned salespeople who need to know the specific benefits of Horizon products in dealing with customers.Â

After the training conduced by Horizon is complete, the CD-ROM is left with the store for its sales staff to use as a refresher and to train new employees.

“We saw a need in our industry, and that, coupled with what we saw in other industries, led to the development of this program,” said Mike Olson, director of marketing & business development at Horizon.Â

The company was surprised when planning the program, which focuses on treadmills and ellipticals, that even veteran sales people sometimes didn't actually know enough about how a piece works.

“Treadmills and ellipticals are our key products right now. We're not doing a lot of volume with bikes,” said Olson. Each of the three sections on the CD-ROM must be reviewed before the quiz can be accessed. To allow a manager to track a salesperson's progress, a chapter is marked when it's completed. All salespersons who get 100 percent correct on the quiz are eligible for a drawing to win one of several prizes from Horizon.

“This is going to be a really good program," said Scott Egbert, owner of Chicago Home Fitness and a Horizon customer, who will implement the training soon. "It's a positive step for the vendors to get their product out on the sales floor.”Â

Objectives included in the CD-ROM training, which will be updated as needed, include the best way to educate customers on treadmills and ellipticals, why Horizon Elite treadmills and ellipticals are on your sales floor, and why you should be confident in selling Horizon. It covers the company's Elite line of treadmills and ellipticals, sold at specialty and higher-end sporting goods, to expand the range of price points and attract customers who need more than they can find at discount and big box stores.

Both the treadmill and the elliptical sections start with sales basics, for example five questions the salesperson must ask to learn about the customer and his or her needs and goals. A section covers the inner workings of a piece because, the company says, by understanding the mechanics behind each component, the salesperson, and consequently the user, will understand why one treadmill is better for them than another. It then runs through the features and functions of each model in the Elite line.

At the end of each section, the CD reviews the key points that the salespeople will need to know to take the quiz. They can take the quiz as many times as necessary until they answer all the questions correctly.

“Sales training will continue to be a focus for Horizon,” said Olson. “Horizon is all about a total solution. That's what this CD-ROM piece is about as well, providing them retailers with the tools they need to get results and get return customers.”

SNEWS® View: one of the hottest topics at the GearTrends® Fitness Forum held at the 2005 Health & Fitness Business Show was the need for retailer sales training by manufacturers. And not just company specific but in general about product and, even more importantly, how to actually deal with a customer and conduct a sale. This tool is one step in that direction. No, a CD-ROM isn't going to get salespeople face-to-face experience and teach them how to talk to people, but it can lay the groundwork. And even that is much-needed.


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