As a former financial services executive, HR leader and now, B2B sales trainer, I’ve been involved with corporate training for the best part of two decades. During that time, I’ve been a participant myself, have purchased training for my teams and more recently, trained thousands of participants in large and mid-sized corporations.
Having both perspectives (client and training provider) has helped me gain a clear understanding of what to look for when selecting a training provider.
In particular, there are five key questions I recommend anyone selecting a training provider must answer, before deciding who to work with.
1. Do they understand our industry and “day-to-day reality?”
Many training providers are experts in a particular area and/or industry. The best ones know to stay within that industry. Unfortunately, many don’t, meaning they are perfectly happy to work with an automotive manufacturer today, and a telecommunications firm tomorrow. Same material, concepts and stories – only the people in the room are different.
One of participant’s major gripes about training is that “the trainer doesn’t know anything about our industry,” causing them to disengage from the content, and discredit the trainer and their expertise altogether.
When hiring a training provider, make sure they display a deep understanding of your industry, business model, challenges, strategy and the day-to-day reality in which participants operate.
2. Do they customize their content?
Unfortunately, I still see training that isn’t customized. Generic, one-size-fits-all case studies, or role plays from an entirely different industry are still common practices in classrooms across the globe.
Customization is key to effective learning unless participants have the ability to connect the learning to their day-to-day, and practice in a safe environment before going out into the real world. How can we expect them to perform any better after training has taken place?
When selecting, insist that any training provider you select customizes core elements of their training program like case studies, role plays, examples and terminology.
3. Do they provide a learning journey?
Learning is not an event. Most of what participants learn in a classroom is forgotten with days, if not weeks. According to ES Research, 97 percent of all sales training has no impact beyond 120 days.
To be effective, any training must have a solid pre- and post-training component. Pre-work requires participants to reflect on their own behavior and prepare for the classroom session. Post-training reinforcement helps participants to “lock down” the learning, ask follow-up questions and overcome the inevitable challenges that come with implementation.
4. Do they offer multi-channel, hybrid learning options?
Learning doesn’t happen in the classroom alone. Virtually everyone prefers different modes of learning. Effective learning needs to take a multi-channel, multi-modal approach.
Classroom sessions, “live” webinars, post-training reinforcement coaching, online learning modules, Q&A sessions, podcasts/audio and e-mail reinforcement need to be combined into a powerful learning journey.
5. Do they measure progress?
What’s the point of training if not to get better? Would a professional athlete or musician even dream of embarking on a training program without putting in place some kind of measurement process?
Top-ranked training providers don’t simply suggest you measure progress over time, they insist on it. They understand that the true value they deliver isn’t in how great their training is, it’s in how great the results are.
Next time you’re selecting a training provider, feel free to use this short list as a checklist. After all, it took me twenty years to build it, might as well take advantage of it.