The company trains the representatives on the device, services, experiences, and in conversation skills.

R. Gopal is just 25 years of age, has studied up to class XII at the Ganapathipalayam Government School in Erode District and earns about Rs. 12,000 a month. He has his interests in smart phones and aspires to own a retail outlet selling handsets.

Those walking into the Samsung Smartphone Café at Fun Republic Mall, Coimbatore, will find Gopal, the store business associate, explaining the latest features in Samsung phones and the different products on display. After four years in mobile phone marketing, he can now handle the queries of the tech-savvy customers and demonstrate the feature updates in the products — thanks to the regular training programmes organised by Samsung.

In the last three years, he has attended nearly 30 training sessions, which focus on the features, demonstration and customer interaction. Apart from the day-long training, he also takes online tests once a month. When he finds time, he browses the internet to learn more about mobile phones and the latest in the market.

For Gopal and others who are employed at the retail outlets of mobile phone companies, training sessions have become part of the job. These sessions are organised for the new recruits and the existing employees regularly in different formats — online packages, role plays, classrooms, and hands on experience of the products. Some companies impart the training in the local language too.

V. Ramnath, Director-Sales for Nokia India, says mobile phones today are about experiences that go beyond the device. Hence, it is crucial to equip the sales representatives on the features and the technology of the product. “They are the consumers’ first point of contact with us, and, hence, should not just bring the device experience to life but also highlight Nokia’s brand essence,” he says. The company trains the representatives on the device, services, experiences, and in conversation skills.

When Nokia Lumia devices were launched in India, over 5,000 representatives from the top retail outlets were trained to have an in-depth understanding of the devices. The company adopts the role-play format in a big way in its training modules.

P. Rajasekar, South cluster head for Currents Technology Retail (the Apple premium reseller), says anyone who comes into Currents takes the web-based training on Apple products for almost two weeks with focus on the operating system, the hardware, features and communication skills. They also have a test before they step into the shop. After the induction programme, the employees at the retail outlet have to choose a topic every week and make a presentation on it.

When there are new products, they have to take up the web-based courses released by Apple. Some of them who work in a high footfall outlet may not find time to do the training. “That is one of the challenges in the continuous education sessions,” he says. “Most of the candidates are amazing when it comes to understanding and explaining the features of the phone but getting English-speaking candidates is another challenge,” he adds.