So, you’ve decided to hire a partner to create custom training for your company. Custom training is great, because it allows for training to be tailored to your specific needs and can eliminate many of the challenges that come with using off-the-shelf options.

Deciding to go with custom training, however, is the easy part. Choosing a training partner can be more complicated. Rest assured, you can make the process easier by asking a few questions when talking to potential training partners.

1. Does the vendor have a proven track record for success?

Any potential training partner should be able to talk about client successes. A proven track record points to expertise in the industry. Let’s say, for example, you’re looking for new product positioning training for your sales team. The vendor should be able to share stories, case studies and concrete examples of similar training. They might be willing to let you speak to these clients about their work. Positive stories from satisfied clients help affirm this vendor is a good partner.

2. Does the vendor have a proven methodology for creating custom training content?

When you decide to work with someone, the creative process should be collaborative. You’ll provide input, and your partner should have proven systems in place to involve you in the process. Clarify ahead of time what they’ll want you to do as a client, and make sure they can articulate their process well.

A great methodology for creating custom training will have two distinguishing factors:

  • Involving the learner in the process: A good partner will do a lot of discovery to get to know your audience.
  • Adjusting the content to fit your culture: You’ll want content that represents your company and looks like it could have been made in house.

3. Does the vendor have an expert team?

Look for a team of curriculum design strategists who can offer insights on tackling your training needs. They should have access to creative writers, designers, animators and a video production crew. Modern learning companies will also have a team of web developers to create interactive learning content that is available online and mobile-friendly. Don’t forget project management; a great partner will drive the process forward, meet deadlines, keep everyone organized and stay within budget.

Make sure whoever you’re considering is willing to share the profiles of team members. When you have a crew of training experts on your side, you have a team who can understand your culture. It’s more than just checking a box; you’ll have something truly unique.

4. Does the vendor have multiple modalities to support blended learning?

A truly great training partner will have a toolkit of modalities to deliver your content. They’ll be able to suggest the right modality for you based on the subject matter and importance of the training. Your partner should feel comfortable pushing back and giving their own ideas for how to deliver your training. They’ll have an excellent understanding of modern learning principles and drive best-in-class retention and consumption of materials.

People prefer to learn in different ways, whether visual, kinesthetic or auditory. Your partner should be able to create training with a blend of styles to reach all your learners. They’ll be able to assess your training needs and suggest the best modality. For example, live-action video can be great for demonstrating new behaviors, while a mix of screencast and animation may work best for learning a new system or software.

5. Will the vendor partner help you understand the total cost of ownership?

Before you decide on a training partner, discuss not only the initial fees but also who will be responsible for maintaining and updating your training over time. If your partner will be the one who updates your content in the future, what type of commitment will that entail? Remember, some companies charge a yearly fee to maintain the training. On the flip side, it is a huge bonus if you can own the content. The upfront cost may seem a little high at first, but remember that you won’t be paying a yearly updating fee.

The key to understanding the cost of custom training is understanding the cost per learner. You can use a simple formula to determine this cost.

Custom Training: ($200,000)/(3 years x 250 people) = $267 per person

Let’s say the figure you’re given for a new custom sales training program is $200,000. You determine that 250 people will complete this training each year, and the average shelf life for custom training is three years. When you divide $200,000 by the number of learners who will complete the training in three years (750), the cost per learner around $267 dollars. In comparison, ATD estimated in 2016 that the average cost of sales training per learner was $1,459.

When you consider the content’s shelf life, the number of learners who will use the training over a long period of time and the cost per learner, that price may not seem so shocking. Make sure you discuss these details with your potential partner so you’re getting the best value and results.

6. Do you like the people you’re dealing with?

Last, but certainly not least, trust your gut. You should find a team with whom you can work well and who are genuine enough to earn your trust. Make sure they value their relationship with you rather than just trying to finish the job and move on to the next client. Find someone who can challenge you, work with you and push back when necessary – who feels like an extension of your own team.

Remember, when you choose a partner to create training content, you’re choosing a company with whom you could potentially work for months or years. Choose someone who will put you and your training needs first. Once you’ve established a relationship with an excellent training partner, you will easily be able to work with them on future projects as well.