Soft skills in the agricultural machinery trade: The need for targeted further training to strengthen important employee competences

Like many other sectors, the agricultural machinery trade is facing major challenges: Rising costs, digitalisation and the omnipresent shortage of skilled workers are just a few examples that are forcing the trade to constantly professionalise itself further.

The targeted further training of employees plays a central role in keeping pace with constantly advancing technological developments and the growing demands for professionalisation and employee management. Further training in the agricultural machinery sector mainly focuses on technical or product-related training. These training courses are, of course, absolutely essential in order to keep pace with the latest developments and innovations. However, there is a clear need to catch up in the area of so-called “soft skills”, such as employee management, employee development or communication techniques for dealing with customers and employees.

The current situation in the agricultural machinery trade

Based on many years of co-operation with various manufacturers and numerous consulting projects in the agricultural machinery trade, the MSR Consulting Group – a medium-sized consulting company based in Cologne – has established that awareness of the need for such further training is not yet particularly pronounced, and if it is, there is often a lack of corresponding professional offers. Managers in particular, such as service, workshop, parts and sales managers, are becoming a decisive success factor within retail organisations, as they set the direction in their respective areas, motivate employees, promote teamwork, successfully manage change, drive the development of talent and thus make a significant contribution to employee retention. In addition, it is also beneficial that the workshop team is not only technically adept, but also has strong communication skills, so that it can not only interact more effectively with the customer, but also strengthen internal teamwork.

Relevant framework conditions for targeted soft skills training:

Specialised training providers can serve as sparring partners during implementation

Once the internal need has been identified and the decision has been made about targeted employee development in the area of soft skills, it is important to find the appropriate experts or providers of training or further education. Based on the experience of the MSR Consulting Group and the in-house Training Academy, it is important that learning in a team and the exchange with other participants is at the centre of every training course. In addition to face-to-face training and the interaction of participants on site, the transfer of content into everyday working life is a key element for sustainable training success. Each training session also includes a digital “follow-up meeting” with all training participants, in which experiences are shared and implementation challenges are discussed. The first module of the MSR Training Academy course took place in December 2023 with managers from various agricultural and construction machinery dealers. The main content of this training module “Managing and leading employees in after sales” focussed on the following topics:

The feedback from the participants has been consistently positive and has emphasised the need for such a training course for the industry. “We had already identified a corresponding need for training in our company some time ago and, thanks to the technical expertise and industry competence of the MSR Academy trainer, our expectations of such training were fully met,” says Georg Schedler, Service Manager Europe at Titan Machinery Austria GmbH.

More corporate success with targeted employee training programmes

Due to the different target groups in retail, it is also important to offer dedicated training programmes for these target groups that are consistently geared towards their everyday working lives. These include, for example, the master course for after sales managers or the training course for team leads (e.g. workshop or ET managers) in after sales.

The individual training programmes are made up of compulsory modules and optional training modules, which are supplemented by knowledge tests and transfer tasks for day-to-day operations. All training programmes are preceded by a digital meeting in which all participants get to know each other and submit a self-assessment in order to tailor the training content even more specifically to their requirements. For example, the master’s programme for “After Sales Managers” consists of the following modules:


The agricultural machinery trade faces the challenge of looking beyond the purely technical aspects and recognising soft skills as an equally important factor for business success. By providing holistic employee training that covers both technical and social expertise, companies can strengthen their competitiveness and operate successfully on the market in the long term.

This article was published in Agrartechnik issue 03/2024