A successful tile salesperson should attend hands-on educational seminars offered by the NTCA, CTEF or others.

When I first entered the ceramic tile industry over twenty years ago, I did so with a small pamphlet of basic information I needed to know before I assisted my first customer. Looking back, I would venture to guess that most of my customers were more educated about how to install ceramic tile in their home than I was. The training I received was really not that bad. However, the company couldn’t afford for me to attend lengthy training programs. It was Learn On The Job 101.

Many companies today who sell ceramic tile in the wholesale or retail sectors do have quality training programs available to their employees. Many do not. More importantly, if you are in sales in the ceramic tile industry, you can go above and beyond the minimum requirements set forth by your employer. Whether you are paid salary, commissions, or a combination of the two, you will be more successful if you know more about the proper installation of the product you aim to sell. Here are some tips to consider if you take your career opportunity seriously.

Learn about the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association www.ctdahome.org

The CTDA is a great place to learn quickly about what skills are necessary to be successful in the tile industry. Ask for permission to purchase the Tile Training in a Box program. This is a wonderful tool for those serious about developing their career in our trade. Proper selection of ceramic tile and natural stone are covered, as are the basics of ceramic tile installation.

As you master the basics of the knowledge necessary to interact with your customers, consider studying for and taking the Certified Ceramic Tile Salesperson Certification course. This will add credibility to your resume’ and will show your employer and anyone in the industry that you are serious about developing your career in the tile industry.

Purchase the Tile Council of America Handbook at www.tileusa.com

Unfortunately, many individuals start selling ceramic tile without having this resource available to them. I was one of those people. Today, I tell everyone I meet new to the industry that this is the first book or CD they need to purchase. Quite simply, it contains all the industry-approved installation methods for ceramic tile. If your customer describes a situation requiring a tile installation over a system other than what is in this book, it is beyond your expertise. Learn the details in this book and you will be so much further than your competitors in a very short period of time.

Volunteer to help a customer and gain some hands-on experience

Ideally, ask a tile contractor with a reputation of integrity and quality if you can help on a project or observe some installations. Learning from a book is important, but watching what an installer faces every day in the field is even more invaluable. A book sometimes portrays situations that are unrealistic. When you visit jobsites, you gain insight into walls and floors that are out of square, uneven surfaces that must be prepared for tile, and more. It is this experience that will help you work with builders, architects, designers and homeowners in the future.

Attend the CTEF Understanding Ceramic Tile and Installation Course www.tileschool.org

Your employer may authorize this after you have been working for them for a while. It is an investment worth considering. This weeklong course will expose you to the basics of a ceramic tile installation. It will also equip you with numerous resources to fall back on when the situation calls for it. Again, you get hands-on experience to work with ceramic tile and allied products, making you so much more knowledgeable than your competition.

Attend NTCA Workshops and Seminars www.tile-assn.com or any seminar that is available in your area

The NTCA travels around the country providing educational seminars. These seminars provide you with non-proprietary, invaluable information on the proper installation of ceramic tile. At a minimum, attend all local educational sessions. Ask your vendors to provide training specifically related to their products. Study technical information for these products for all of the products you sell. Attend trade shows like Coverings www.coverings.com if your company will allow you to. The conference seminars at Coverings are worth the investment.

Visit industry blogs and websites like “Ask The Tile Man” at www.ceramic-tile.com and www.JohnBridge.com

Be a little careful here, and know that you are dealing with opinions at times when you enter forums. In other words, don’t take everyone’s word for gospel. But if you navigate your way through much of the content of the forums, you will begin to find regular visitors who take the time to answer many questions. It becomes apparent who the real experts are. More importantly, you can learn a lot of information by sharing your experiences with others in the industry that face similar ones every day.

If you begin your career in this fashion, you will familiarize yourself with the industry quickly. There is no substitute for experience. But research and self-study is the first step towards success.