Selling Training for Lube Pitchmen


Lubrizol Corp. has introduced an online learning site aimed at helping sales people do a better job of peddling lubricants. Named K2M, the program tries to speak to the hearts of sales people, by showing them how being more knowledgeable can help them close more deals.

Lubrizol hopes that it will also become a significant source of income.

Teaching about lubrication is nothing new for Lubrizol. The company, the worlds biggest supplier of lubricant additive packages,for well over a decade has provided customers training about lubricants and related equipment at its Customer Care Conference Center. The company continues to offer that free training, but officials said it also wanted to make a revenue stream out of the expertise it has accumulated in developing lubricant formulas.

We realized for a while that our customers, and potentially their customers, value this resource, but there was no way to make it available to all the people who might be interested, said Holly A. Fitzgerald, business development manager for K2M. This gives us a way to do that and also to help get out the message about the value of lubricants, which should help the market as a whole.

Lubrizol officially launched K2M (Knowledge 2 Market) two weeks ago at the annual meeting of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers in Toronto, although customers started signing up before then for one-month trial subscriptions.

The programs curriculum currently includes 20 courses, although Lubrizol says it will continue adding more. Titles range from Attributes of Diesel Engine Oil to Basics of Grease, Basics of Viscosity, EGR Engines and Operation of an Automatic Transmission.

Each course puts users in scenarios where they interact with hypothetical customers confronted with some kind of lubrication problem. In ATVs: Two-stroke vs. Four, the user visits the owner of a rural farm-supply store wondering how to respond to the growing number of customers seeking high-quality engine oils for all-terrain vehicles. Basics of Gear Operation introduces the user to the manager of a paper plant concerned about unusual noises coming from a gear box.

Users are asked a series of questions as they progress through the scenarios. Correct responses move the user a step closer toward solving the customers problem. Incorrect answers bring explanations and suggestions for the user to studymore about that particular topic. To drive home the importance of being knowledgeable, repeated wrong answers result in customers becoming increasingly annoyed.

Each account keeps track of how the user scores on the courses and on separate assessment tests so that progress may be monitored by the users supervisor. Besides courses, K2M gives users access to a searchable reference library, plus the ability to pose questions to experts by phone or e-mail.

Fitzgerald said Lubrizol plans to add new courses every quarter. Among those currently in development are courses on the API GF-4 specification for passenger car motor oils, gas compression engines and compatibility for hydraulic fluids. According toan article in the Aprilissue of Jobbers World, Lubrizol is selling annual subscriptions to K2M for $1,200 per user. One-month trial subscriptions cost $99.

Industry organizations such as STLE already offer courses on lubricants, but Lubrizol officials say K2M differs in its orientation to sales people.

The courses that STLE offers tend to be very technical and very deep, Fitzgerald said. Our big driver is to present the information to sales people in a way so that it can have an immediate impact on their job. Its really designed to be something that they can use to bone up on a particular topic right before they make a sales call.

STLE seems to agree that K2M is complementary to its own courses. It distributed a letter at the Toronto meeting endorsing Lubrizols program.

More information about K2M is available by calling 866-289-4853.

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