Chief training officer
Mitsubishi FUSO Academy (Japan)
‘Effective sales training is integral for success in business’
Chiyuki Nishio is a seasoned veteran with Mitsubishi FUSO. A mechanical engineer by profession, he joined the truck and bus maker in 1983 in Japan. In three decades of his diverse career within the company Nishio San has served in various departments. He spent four years in engineering, seven in production management, 15 in after sales service and his latest role is as sales trainer, which he began a year ago. Nishio San was in Oman recently to train sales advisors of General Automotive Company.
What made him move out from within the factory environment to a trainer’s job? The main reason he cites is: “I like to work with people, customers, engineers, colleagues, distributors and our approved dealers in various locations around the world.”
Nishio San’s geographical footprint for sales training workshops is global and includes Germany, Indonesia, Algeria, Japan, Oman, America and most ASEAN countries where Mitsubishi FUSO is active and also faces stiff competition. These markets represent over 100 retail centres for Mitsubishi FUSO.
Considering the diversity in the markets – they way they operate, language and cultural differences, Nishio San always finds it a new and exciting challenge while facing the audience. “No two markets are the same, no two audiences are the same and I have to find ways and means to communicate and in some cases, break the ice. The major advantage he has is that he trains the trainers in each assigned destination.
How does he do that? “It is important for me to first understand the general character of each market and the audience that I am involved in for training purposes. I can openly joke in America where people are open-minded and have good sense of humour. This approach, however, doesn’t work in Japan or in some Asian countries my audience can be conservative and more culturally sensitive,” he says.
For the success of any training programme, the active participation of students is very important. “I have to ensure that I have their attention. Drawing attention to the class or session can be a challenge and I believe that the learning sessions have to be enjoyable also. Hence our training sessions are broken into class room and field modules.”
Nishio San’s training sessions usually have a group size of 10-15 people. “This is good for me to observe them and get attention. The levels of reception from the audience can be mixed. One may find an extra attentive and eager participant on one hand and a totally disenchanted participant who probably has been asked to participate in the training session against his wishes!” In either case, the trainer has to ensure that the information shared or projects discussed during the workshop get equal importance and good feedback.
To ensure that the week long programme is a success, Nishio San has to ensure that its contents are being accepted by the participants in a competitive spirit. As a result, the trainer has devised several motivational methods including running a small competition within the group and rewarding the shining stars. After a day’s session is over, he hands an objective type questionnaire to the participants. “The results help me understand how much of the inputs discussed really have been absorbed and how much work has to be carried forward. Besides this, it also helps in creating some excitement within the group for the forthcoming sessions,” he says.
The training format is designed by specialists in the US and is modified according to markets. When asked the real need for such workshops, Nishio San says: “Usually, a sales person focuses only on pricing. We think sales can be influenced by a better understanding of the customer’s needs and with adequate knowledge and training the sales person can justify and convince the customer about the package he is purchasing. Sales successes are a result of combining knowledge and skills in a balanced way and effective sales training is integral for success in business.”