Ducati U: New program steps up sales training

By Neil Pascale
Aiming to create a more dynamic sales force, Ducati North America is developing a multi-step training course for its dealer network for 2009.
The training will start online then transition into an on-site, instructor-led course and eventually into riding.
“We have some seriously enthusiastic people in our dealer network,” said Jason Chinnock, Ducati North America’s sales director. “We recognize them, but we don’t develop them very well.”
That will begin to change with Ducati Academy, a start-up program that will have elements for all dealership staff but will be mostly geared, at least in its initial year, to the sales department.
Beginning in the first quarter of 2009, Ducati will place at least four training programs online, two of which will deal with new product, the Monster 1100 and the Streetfighter. The two other courses are aimed not only at sales staff but other dealership personnel as well. These courses will concentrate on retail merchandising techniques and the brand as a whole. The latter, Chinnock said, will focus on “our culture, our heritage, the fact that racing is incredibly important to us, the fact that we’re a small company but we’re always pursuing new technologies and that we have some characteristics that are very unique to who we are.”
Sales staff that completes the online courses will be eligible for an on-site training class that is tentatively scheduled for late April. That event will not only include instructor-led training, but also riding. The latter, Chinnock says, will prove crucial as Ducati introduces the Streetfighter, a new model family, to U.S. consumers a few weeks later in May.
“The technical specs anybody can memorize,” he said, “but to be able to explain to somebody what it’s like to be in that cockpit of the 1198 or a Streetfighter, that’s something you can’t put online.”
The on-site event, expected to be held over a day and a half, also will focus on accessories as Ducati has developed exclusive performance parts for the Streetfighter and its 155hp engine.
Chinnock noted the Ducati Academy training courses are voluntarily for dealers this year, “but I can assure you over the course of time it will be” mandatory. He says Ducati North America is looking at providing dealerships incentives to have Ducati Academy-trained staff on hand.
“We can be as consistent about our message as we want and control the events and our advertising and how we look to the public but when somebody walks into a dealership, it’s actually in their hands to manage from there,” he said. “Some of these guys (dealers) are really good at doing it, but it has not been because of us.”
Ducati Academy is meant to change that with the initial training courses offered next year.

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