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Moving beyond the classroom — talk that leads to action

The learning organization of the last century focused on the classroom. That was challenge enough.

Today, the canvas of the learning organization expands to include the classroom and the world of work. With humility about the influence of scheduled training events, learning leaders now are asked to deliver experiences, resources and relationships on demand, where and when needed.

While this shift is good in many ways, it is no slam dunk.

Let’s look in on a conversation between Erun, a global learning leader and a workplace learning professional, Meg. Meg has been asked by the VP of Sales to “develop a dynamic, digital training program to help sales guys and gals do a better job at being trusted advisors.” Erun says, “At least they came to us. You remember that last year they just went out and hired a vendor to do workshops on The Trusted Advisor? This is an opportunity to turn that investment into something meaningful.”

Meg:           True….but….

Erun:          But what?

Meg:           Well, he said dynamic and digital. I’m a bit stumped on what to do.

Erun:          Let’s not worry about the digital aspect now. Instead, let’s focus on the trusted advisor goals. Let’s look at what we know about sellers’ performance as trusted advisors since the workshop. Did our sales people “get” the trusted advisor approach? What do they do that reflects the approach? What do they skip? Those who are doing it…. Why? And those who are not… What is getting in the way?

Meg:           Whew, I asked those questions. Sales leaders said they get the relationship part. Most do it well. Where they fall down is in offering high value advice to potential clients. I asked why and the execs said that it was new for sellers, that most sellers admit that they weren’t sure what advice to offer. I also called some reps, randomly chosen, and asked their views. Most said they didn’t know how to stay up to date on their customers’ priorities. They weren’t confident at serving as advisors. One executive said four reps mentioned feeling isolated and wondering if somewhere somebody has articles and presentations that might be useful to them.

 Erun:          All right. I am beginning to see how we might proceed. What about you? What are you thinking?

Meg:           We have to give them more access to sellers who are successful advisors. The execs pointed to a few and we need to feature their habits and successes, so they can see what it looks like here– and see that it is indeed possible. I also want to start providing sellers with updates and articles about our customers, their needs, with links to our services and products. We can take the 6-8 most likely concerns mentioned by customers and create streams on our social network devoted to them. We’ll also use RSS to sign them up for constant updates and encourage conversations around these topics on the network. They can’t do the advisor thing if they don’t know enough to contribute to their customers’ thinking on pressing matters.

Erun:          Exactly. And I’d also schedule a handful of webinars on those high value topics. Include top notch thinking on these matters with strategic pointers to our technologies.

Meg:           What do you think about this? I’d like to post a series of challenges for sellers to tackle. I’ll create typical customers and ask our sellers to identify opportunities to serve a trusted advisor. Once the opportunity is identified, we’ll ask them to dig into their new sources to construct responses. We can offer feedback, ask them to comment on each other’s efforts and provide some incentives for their efforts.

Erun:          Love it. Remember, they wanted a digital approach— now they’re getting it, for the right reasons.

That’s one example of a systematic response to a request for movement beyond the classroom.

How would you handle this opportunity?

A few years ago, a learning executive called for advice regarding a mandate he had just received from an executive in his company. It went something like this: We must, in one year, have moved 80% of our courses online. Have you got some ideas about the right vendor for us? After offering a few comforting words, I got down to business.

This link presents recommended approaches. While registration is required, I am hopeful that you will find the content worth just a little bit of hassle.


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