Following yesterday’s post, How to break out of the “course is the solution to every problem” mindset: make courses the exception rather than the rule, this is the first of three case studies that shows how courses are not the solution to every learning or performance problem. These three case studies have been adapted from posts that first appeared on my blog in 2010.
The Sales Manager of a consumer electronics company was concerned about the length of time it was taking to create and deliver the online training courses for new products and new product updates. This was having a knock-on effect that meant that his sales people were not able to talk intelligently about these new products to their customers which often led to poor customer satisfaction results and also weak sales in the early days of a product launch. He approached the L&D department for help.
The traditional response to such a problem would have previously been that they could reduce the time taken to create and deliver the online courses by a number of weeks, by bringing the development work back in house and hiring a couple of instructional designers, and then purchasing the authoring software as well as all the multimedia production and editing kit that was necessary to create the course themselves. However, instead he suggested that Jenny, one of his team, convene a meeting of product managers and sales people to discuss the problem.
Jenny found out that they normally worked in complete isolation and very rarely had any communication with one another. She also found out product training took place after launch because that was just the way they had always done things. She asked the product managers if they would be happy for the sales team to find out more about the products before the launch date and answer questions on them, and they said they would be delighted. She made the suggestion that the product managers might like to “work out loud” on their Yammer (enterprise social networking platform) – this would involve writing regular posts about the new products, and would keep the sales team up to date with what was happening. Such updates might describe new functionality and even show images and mockups they had built, and of course answer any questions the sales team had about the products. This was agreed as a way forward and a pilot was set up on a couple of new products to try it out.
The result: at product launch, the sales team were well prepared to start talking to their customers about the new product. Sales in the early weeks of new product increased and customer satisfaction scores shot up too. The pilot was deemed a success, and the project was continued. A further advantage was that it brought the product development team and the sales team closer together and from then on they held away days to discuss new innovations and product design.
- Jenny was the catalyst in helping the teams understand how they could help each other
- She didn’t organise the solution for them, rather helped them identify one that suited them all, and then supported them as they put it into practice.
- Success was measured in performance terms (improved customer sats, increased sales) not learning terms (course completions, etc).
More Case Studies