Those of you who stay up and watch TV into the wee hours of the night (like I do) are likely familiar with 30-day diets, no-stick pans and fix-your-life infomercials. The heavyweight of them all is the magical skin cream delivered directly from the heavenly gods right to your door the next day.

Would you ever buy one of these miracle products? If you did decide to dip into one of these beautiful elixirs, how would you choose? With all the big promises, all the tantalizing tinctures and all the different vendors out there ready to deliver eternal youth, how could you sort through all the options and finally click “buy”?

Stop saying to yourself, “I’d never buy that stuff,” and humor me for a moment. If you had to choose one of those wrinkle-reducers, how would you make your selection? What information would you look for to determine which worked the best? Would it be the shape and color of the bottle or tube? Would it be the spokesperson who was applying it and telling you it was the best? Would it be the price?

These are all good considerations, but the No. 1 criterion you would likely hone in on is the result. Can the company show you — with real evidence — that using its product will actually result in smoother skin? How does the advertiser show that evidence? With the good ol’ “before and after” photos. What did Jane’s face look like before she slapped on the celestial cream, and what does Jane’s face look like now?

“Before and After” Training

Let’s bring this scenario into the training industry. How do we sort through all the training options and pick the one that we think will be the most effective? How do we scrub, screen and scrutinize all our options to finally select the right one?

Shouldn’t we look for the clear, tangible and observable evidence that training improved something for participants? Shouldn’t we look beyond the pretty packaging and spokespeople and go right to the hard data that matters — the before and after snapshots?

Think about all the training organizations out there. How many have some solid and readily available pre- and post-training data to show that their training actually worked? The simple answer is, “Very few and not enough!”

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that training is in the same category as face cream. I am saying that we can learn something from the 3 a.m. marketers, who at least know that our skeptical brains want to see hard evidence that something will work before we buy it.

A Little Improvement

These advertisers have figured out that the most important thing for us as buyers is to see with our own eyes, and the very least we need to make us satisfied customers is a little improvement.

Imagine if all the training vendors out there took a page from this playbook and measured their products or services with the same “before and after” evidence of improvement. Imagine that they did it comprehensibly and credibly. Imagine how quickly we’d be able to discern the good training from the bad training.

When it comes to sorting through all our training options, the vendors that should win every time are the ones that measure and show their clients and customers that training really can make a difference. Just like face creams, the ones that will appeal to us the most are the ones that compare and contrast the “before” and “after” — the ones that can revitalize us, smooth out our performance and make us look better.

So, can training really get rid of wrinkles? Who knows? But you’d better show me it does something!