Success Story: CEG BGS Helped Automated Dynamics Achieve Ambitious Sales Goal by Securing WDI Grant for Sandler Training
Automated Dynamics is the designer and manufacturer of advanced composite structures and high performance automation equipment for the automotive, defense, oil field, and other commercial/industrial markets. In 2014, the Niskayuna, N.Y.-based company set out to increase sales by more than 20 percent, or $1.2 million.
To achieve this goal, Automated Dynamics — with help from the Center for Economic Growth’s Business Growth Solutions (BGS) unit — put several of its sales representatives and one newly hired executive through sales and/or leadership training programs provided by Winning Process LLC, doing business as Sandler Training of Albany.
The company had previously sent sales representatives through Sandler’s introductory and reinforcement training programs. These employees are usually engineers with little to no prior sales experience. However, Automated Dynamics in 2014 spent $19,800 on Sandler training modules for four employees using a Workforce Development Institute (WDI) grant that BGS helped secure.
“I’ve seen a major benefit for them….Without Sandler Training, there’s no way they could be this effective,” Automated Dynamics Vice President of Sales and Marketing Ralph Marcario said of his sales representatives who received training through Sandler.
Marcario, who joined Automated Dynamics that year, also went through Sandler’s sales leadership and introductory sales training courses. Although he already had more than two decades of professional experience with advanced materials, he underwent the former to better understand the type of skills and strategies with which Sandler was equipping his sales representatives. He said the training has enabled them to better translate their immense technical knowledge into quality customer service and develop and close business.
“It’s shortened their learning curve, no question about that.”
In fact, Lorraine Ferguson, an associate with Sandler Training in Albany, said the biggest barriers that such workers with expansive tech knowledge face when attempting to tackle sales has much to do with their attitude towards selling and behavior around prospective customers. The training regimens that Automated Dynamics put its sales and marketing representatives through armed them with not only the sales techniques and strategies but also the self-confidence and relationship building know-how to further enable them to identify and seize solid opportunities.
“That’s what we call the icing on the cake,” said Ferguson.
While Marcario had previously received leadership training at GE Silicones, he found Sandler’s to be invaluable, especially for the diversity of perspectives it provided. The leadership courses he attended had 10 to 20 students who came from the insurance, hotel, human resources and other industries.
“There’s a lot of best-practice sharing that I found to be just as valuable as the class work itself,” he said.
A survey by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) found that the 2014 Sandler training helped Automated Dynamics increase sales by $1.2 million and retain $5.6 million in revenues. On top of the $19,800 in workforce training, the company increased investment in information systems by $10,000 and in new products and processes by $1.6 million, resulting in a net economic impact of $8.4 million. It helped the company create one new job and retain 34 positions.
The positive impacts of this and other training initiatives has continued, with Marcario reporting that Automated Dynamics set a sales record of nearly $10 million in 2016. BGS regularly helps manufactures obtain funding for workforce training from either the WDI or National Grid’s Manufacturing Productivity Program, which is a reimbursement-based grant for incumbent worker training.