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Enterprise LMS, Asentia was launched this month by ICS.  Asentia is a cloud-based, mobile-responsive enterprise solution that combines social eLearning, classroom, and virtual learning within a state of the art interface, giving companies and organizations a user-friendly platform to streamline training initiatives.

"The way that training is delivered is constantly changing and Asentia was created to facilitate eLearning using new technologies. We are dedicated to our customer's success and our suite of LMS solutions helps our clients to offer training in any capacity, on any device, and deliver measurable results," said Ed Gipple, President of ICS Learning Group.

With Asentia's learning automation and reporting features paired with a mobile-responsive design, system administrators can quickly and easily implement logic-based rulesets to assign user permissions, course enrollments, learning path assignments, deadline reminders and group permissions.  All progress can be tracked and measured with Asentia's intelligent reporting features and its naturally mobile design provides an uninterrupted user experience to access training materials on any device of their choosing.
Published in New Products

 

The collaboration is marked with continuous acquisition, with this latest one poised to create stronger competition to Cisco and Microsoft.

LogMeIn's previous lineup of products—including LogMeIn Rescue, BoldChat, LastPass and join me—will now include GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, GoToTraining and OpenVoice. The combined business will have more than $1 billion in revenue, almost 3,000 employees and more than 2 million customers worldwide.

“We believe that together we can better serve the needs of our customers, while expanding our reach and accelerating product innovation to bring you more choice, greater possibilities and better business outcomes," LogMeIn President and CEO Bill Wagner.

Learn more -- http://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2016/07/26/859040/0/en/LogMeIn-Announces-Merger-with-Citrix-s-GoTo-Family-of-Products-to-Create-Billion-Dollar-Industry-Leader.html

 

Published in Deals

Sales Enablement Superstars Reveal Their Secrets

What would you do when you’re faced with training your sales team on 722 significant new releases in a year like Amazon Web Services? What do you do to motivate sales executives to forecast accurately? What would you do if you had nearly 500 global subsidiaries to sales manage like Ingersoll Rand?

The sales enablement gurus from Amazon Web Services, Publicis.Sapient and Ingersoll Rand reveal their secrets to these questions. And, it all starts with changing the sales and learning culture.

AMAZON WEB SERVICES INNOVATES AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT

As the fastest-growing Enterprise IT Company in history — having grown to $10 billion in 10 years and still growing at an annual rate of 64 percent year-over-year — Amazon Web Services continues to accelerate the pace of its innovation. After starting with one storage service, today Amazon Web Services offers more than 70 services including compute, storage, databases, analytics, mobile and enterprise applications. The organization announced 722 significant new features and services in 2015, which is 40 percent more than what was introduced in 2014. And, just recently, Salesforce named Amazon Web Services its “preferred public cloud infrastructure provider,” and announced that its investing $400 million on Amazon Web Services during the next four years. Amazon Web Services’ growth has happened organically, and it’s placed an emphasis on innovating — rather than dictating — a company culture that contributes to its customerobsessed nature.

Known for its “Amazonian” style of doing things, Amazon Web Services has a rigorous dedication to its culture, best exemplified in its 14 Leadership Principles. One can easily see how it would require an immersive learning culture to deliver on its standards by just looking at a few of these principles: >> Customer obsession

>> Ownership

>> Invent and simplify

>> Hire and develop the best talent

>> Insist on the highest standards

>> Learn and be curious

While these are the traits expected and even demanded from its leaders, Amazon Web Services holds all of its employees to such exacting standards. So, when the company needed a way to standardize its primary leadership principle, customer obsession, it took a thorough approach to learning that was both broad and deep.

CUSTOMER OBSESSION

Amazon’s primary leadership principle of customer obsession is the major driving force in the company. “One of the things that Jeff Bezos has set out to be as a company is the most customer-obsessed company on the earth,” says Mike Clayville, Vice President of Global Sales. “That’s his goal. It’s written on our walls. It’s embedded in our leadership principles and it’s lived every day at every level of the organization.”

“What it means here at Amazon Web Services, and in particular in our organization that deals directly with customers, is that it translates to our team being problem solvers with the customer,” Clayville continues. “When we are working with a customer to help them understand how he or she can gain business abilities through using the cloud or how he or she can reduce cost if that’s his or her goal in using the cloud, what we enable them to do is leverage that technology in the best way possible and we do that by sitting at the table with them. On the same side of the table, understanding the issues that are in front of them and helping them solve the problem.”

As the company quickly grew, leaders knew they needed a way to unify by implementing a common methodology and language to further extend the customer-obsessed mindset across its global sales force. Through collaborating with CloudCoaching International, and through deep discovery and design, a global program called Outcome Based Account Management was developed and deployed for sellers across Amazon Web Services. This program provides language, process, behavior and methodology that even further increases customer intimacy and focus on both business and personal customer outcomes.

OUTCOME BASED ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT

It was critical that the learning solution match the Amazon Web Services culture. So, a customized version of the Customer Outcome Selling course was developed to line up with the methodology and language of Amazon. This Amazonian selling approach is called Outcome-Based Account Management (OBAM).

OBAM is the process, tools, competencies, and dialogue architecture for initiating and solidifying Amazon Web Services’ customer-obsessed relationships, fixated on the journey of transforming the sellercustomer engagement into a lifelong strategic relationship.

“We’re not trying to sell you parts and pieces or technology. What we’re trying to help you do is get the business outcomes,” says Clayville when defining OBAM. “Our job is to sit down and help. We really talk about it as the four E’s: explore, engage, empathize and enable. Those four E’s are ingrained in the behaviors of our teams that are really supporting this notion of problem solving, identifying business outcomes, creating a path for those business outcomes to be achieved and then helping the customer achieve those business outcomes.”

THE RESULTS

The development of this program has spanned three years and is currently on its third release. The immersive program thrives on a blend of pre-call, pre-work, a live one-day collaborative training day session, three post-workshop coaching calls, and an on-demand OBAM playbook.

The program has been delivered globally to around 1,000 people in all geographies, including Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, and North and South America. In every location, the program is being met with great success, achieving a global average score of 4.2 or higher out of five from participants.

Amazon Web Services’ deep commitment to a culture of continuous learning and skill development enables innovation and customer obsession.

PUBLICIS.SAPIENT MERGES CULTURES

Sapient is a marketing and digital services agency that helps marketers transform their business to go digital, and the culture of Sapient goes back to its roots. Culture is always at the forefront at Sapient.

“The most important thing in your business is not what you’re going to sell but what you value,” says Bill Kanarick, Chief Marketing Officer of global services company Sapient, who helped steered the company since it startup days. Culture was so integral that when the company reached 49 employees, Sapient dedicated two of them to keeping its culture intact.

As Sapient continued to grow and expand, its dedication to culture has never wavered. And, learning is clearly a deeply held value at the core of many of its founding principles.

Sapient believes in the need to cultivate openness to create the conditions for curiosity and change. As such, the company is committed to exchanging information, feedback and ideas which engages employees, piquing their curiosity. Sapient understands that learning is continuous, no matter an individual’s role in the organization. Sapient embraces a culture so:

>>Individuals let go of what is no longer working.

>>Individuals welcome healthy conflict in the service of more robust thinking and better outcomes.

>>Individuals leave behind hierarchy for hierarchy’s sake and enable a meritocracy of ideas that gives each person a valued and respected voice based on the quality of his or her thinking.

>>Individuals understand the critical role of failure to teach and can recover quickly and come out better for it.

THE CHALLENGE: INCREASE VISIBILITY

In order to deliver at the speed and agility of the digital marketplace Publicis. Sapient required a world-class business platform, and selected Salesforce. It also selected Salesforce to help promote better collaboration and visibility into the pipeline.

Because Sapient’s culture is highly creative and opt-in, it doesn’t mandate training on its new CRM. Knowing that its team would benefit from Salesforce, the organization decided that it needed a solution to drive adoption, quick onboarding, and a clear path to competency for all Salesforce users. To get the team’s buy-in, it needed to create a highly engaging experience that would pull the users in. It also needed the training to be in a highly scalable format that clearly shows each employee what’s in it for each of them individually.

THE SOLUTION: SALESFORCE ON-BOARDING

Enter the new Salesforce On-Boarding and Adoption Program developed in partnership with CloudCoaching International. This program addresses the challenges of global diversity and opt-in culture by creating an engaging, informative and creatively executed end user Salesforce on-boarding and adoption strategy.

To sustain learning and encourage selfpaced, incremental growth, the program focused on three main areas: strategy, implementation and fine tuning. The design of this effective strategy included a comprehensive blend of executive coaching, leadership coaching, virtual workshops, open office hours, video communications, self-paced e-learning, and corporate communications and change management.

This unique blend appeals to all learning types and, because it’s delivered over time, it maximizes retention and effectiveness. Additionally, the e-learning series is delivered via an interface by an engaging video host that takes end users through an informative and enjoyable learning journey that introduces the new company sales philosophy and methodology, step-by-step Salesforce process demonstrations, knowledge checks and even a little singing.

So far the deployment has impacted more than 1,200 users across North America, the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. Based on the success of the initial program, Publicis.Sapient, which is composed of Sapient as well as digital agencies Razorfish and DigitasLBi, will continue to use and evolve this approach to drive end-user adoption and consumption with its Salesforce platform.

THE RESULTS

Sapient has seen measurable results since it began the implementation. It has a 50-percent increase in early-stage entry, improving the accuracy of its forecasting and pipeline. It also has 75 percent engagement in Salesforce, showing that the team is opting in and making use of the company’s major investment.

“As an extremely creative, opt-in culture, we needed a highly engaging solution to captivate the imagination and clearly show our end users the benefits of using the system,” says Seth Bartlett, Global Chief Operating Officer at SapientNitro. 

INGERSOLL RAND INSPIRES PROGRESS

Ingersoll Rand is a $12 billion global diversified industrial firm that provides a wide range of innovative products, including complete air compressor systems, air conditioning systems, tools, ARO pumps, material handling systems and more. It continues to lead the way in the market through an impressive portfolio of market-leading brands, which include Club Car, Thermo King and Trane.

Ingersoll Rand strives to lead the way in solutions that make everyday living healthier, more energy efficient, more comfortable and more productive. To constantly inspire progress, innovate positive solutions, and unleash the potential in employees, along with the customers, Ingersoll Rand relies on a culture of learning.

Ingersoll Rand is focused on driving learning and growth across its corporate culture. In 2003, it established Ingersoll Rand University to support the development of leaders and staff through strategic competencies and a single pervasive culture.

THE CHALLENGE: 484 GLOBAL SUBSIDIARIES AND ONE STANDARD

While Ingersoll Rand made learning a predominant feature of its culture, like so many other companies, it needed help establishing a consistent methodology and process for its sales management teams. Because of an inconsistent sales management process and pipeline tools varying between business units, Ingersoll Rand’s sales management team was struggling to set standard practices. Sales representatives focused on driving sales excellence but found themselves impeded by a fragmented sales management culture.

“On the surface, those of us who are not in this latest generation of the workforce tend to think about selling and sales in much the same way it has traditionally been seen for many generations,” says Melissa Nelson Tate, Enterprise Director of Sales Excellence. “If we take a step back and look at how buying behavior has changed, we see a different playing field. Buyers have all the information they need at their fingertips. Think about how you buy for yourself today either personally or in your position. Technology has added an incredible dimension to buying and that dimension compounds the work of the seller, for developing sales people and accelerating their learning curve has become more important than ever.”

She explains that sales leaders have to be ready to put on their coaching caps to harness the potential and to realize the performance available to their team. “It’s a much, much different space to operate in today than it has been for the last several decades,” she says.

STANDARDIZING THE SALES PROCESS

Ingersoll Rand selected the Pathways to Growth Sales Management System (PTG), which is a series of nine sales management disciplines, authored by Tony Robbins and Walter Rogers. Ingersoll Rand’s Sales Excellence Division, Ingersoll Rand University and Baker Communications collaborated to customize PTG to meet Ingersoll Rand’s specific requirements. The collaboration resulted in a single global sales management standard: IRSMX. This standard serves as the template for each business unit to customize in order to meet its business unit requirements, without altering the integrity of the overall system. In fact, the company took its commitment to the program so seriously and believes so heavily in its effectiveness that it mandated IRSMX be used across the entire company.

As the system was being implemented globally, BCI suggested that Ingersoll Rand consider using Salesforce as the system of record to enable IRSMX. With support from BCI, Ingersoll Rand selected the CRM leader to standardize the ISRMX process and reporting in order to support the global initiative. IRSMX is now further accelerated with the use of Salesforce as it rolls out globally.

The implementation spanned multiple geographical, cultural, and business unit environments, requiring customized content and coaching to address the worldwide business unit and diversity. All together, this project will impact more than 7,000 sellers and managers across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and Asia.

“Such a complex implementation goal requires the design of the learning strategy be creative and impactful for all of our diverse learners,” says Tara Cargle Ashcraft, Strategic Capability Learning Manager installing Sales Excellence. “Our blended approach is both traditional and innovative; it includes assessment, e-learning, face to face classroom learning, experimental field work, and a 12-week virtual coaching cycle to support adoption, reinforce learning, and practice application of content. Our sales teams are supported throughout the launch of the sales management system. It’s not a one and done. The commitment of our leaders to coach through the change is the secret sauce.”

Due to the scale of the project and Ingersoll Rand’s desire to accelerate adoption of IRSMX across various business units, global delivery was accomplished through a joint effort between BCI Master Coaches and BCI-certified Ingersoll Rand business unit Coaches, with both groups leading IRSMX workshops and IRSMX coaching cycles. Ingersoll Rand continues to leverage BCI Master Coaches for IRSMX delivery and on-demand support, including coaching, content changes, and specialized delivery needs. 

THE RESULTS

Ingersoll Rand’s desire to make IRSMX a part of all its business units’ operations has led to faster-than-expected adoption of the methodology and substantial business results, while ensuring a high level of pipeline health, forecast accuracy, and regular one-on-one coaching sessions between sales managers and sales representatives. It also found that the switch to Salesforce has been an incalculable benefit as the company uses it to track, communicate and report on the health of the business.

Through the determination and desire shown by Ingersoll Rand’s Sales Excellence division to make the IRSMX method a part of its core sales management culture, it will succeed in reaching the end goal of rolling out IRSMX to every sales manager.

“Through the areas of strong sales leadership that we have in Ingersoll Rand, we have consistently seen improvement in engagement scores where teams have a focus on strong and improved sales leadership and coaching practices,” says Nelson Tate. Sales professionals describe their time with management and as a team as important to each member’s success.

An unexpected result is that sales leaders have a better work life balance. “[Sales leaders] have seen that they can more proactively, strategically, effectively lead their teams to greater performance by actually putting in less direct hours in a day. Of course, all of this improves retention and we know how costly it is to have poor performers. Those are some of the softer results we’re seeing,” Nelson Tate says.

“On the quantitative side, we definitely are seeing cleaner pipelines, better forecast accuracy, improved win rates,” she says. “We’re getting bigger pipelines, better deals at the table and winning more of those deals, which, of course, drive revenue improvement and then translate to market share gains.”

BY KEREN STANLEY AND CLAIRE JOHNSON

Published in Top Stories

The Silo Organizational Structure: An office where no one communicates, everyone hordes their knowledge and best practices, and where no one works together to enhance the client experience. While some organizations are structured purposefully as silos to enhance competition rather than collaboration, in many organizations, a silo culture can develop unintentionally and gradually, until it becomes an environment where individual teams think and act unilaterally, working against one another, inhibiting a company’s ability to achieve its goals. This lack of collaboration in the silo structure impedes productivity, erodes employee satisfaction, and ultimately causes clients to question whether a company champions a united front.

Eliminating a culture of silos is not an easy undertaking. However, with the right tools, support from the top down, and a strong strategy, silos can be dismantled and a culture of collaboration and learning can take hold. When you break down silos, you enable individual teams to function independently, while working together as one cohesive team.

OVERCOMING SILOS As a global provider of supply-chain services with a footprint of more than 400 stocking locations operating in 90 countries, we at Choice Logistics are expected to meet clients’ time-sensitive service level agreements. It’s essential that we collaborate internally and with vendors and clients to ensure alignment of goals and expectations. We must manage and move parts all over the world and must communicate and collaborate effectively to achieve the required results. We’re relentless in our efforts to help clients achieve success, since they rely on us to act as a partner, part of their team, when servicing their client base. Working cohesively is essential to our success; collaboration is key.

Indeed, two of our core values are collaboration and educating one another. We believe our success is dependent upon the collective knowledge and growth of our employees. We strive to build an environment where employees can reach their highest potential, and work with them to identify and support individual and collective growth. Last year, we recognized that not all departments were working from a common set of goals, nor were they fully informed about the business, clients, and operations. Silos were beginning to take hold and, without a unified focus, our organization was unable to provide the best client experience. While functional departments are necessary to centralize team efforts, we needed a strategy and the right technology to help break down these silos and improve collaboration and learning across the organization.

THE STRATEGY

In 2015, we made a concerted effort to eliminate silos, using a people, process, and technology approach. There were many goals with this program, but the overarching one was to break down silos by restructuring the organization to improve client focus and employee engagement; by evaluating current processes to eliminate inefficiencies and redundancies; and by utilizing Salesforce to support these efforts and to improve visibility and collaboration across the organization.

Strategy 1: People

Organizational Restructuring: We reorganized our teams as a more clientcentric model. Although we continued to be function-focused, by making crossfunctional information more readily available, teams became better equipped to share and collaborate on the best solution for the client. With Salesforce, teams also have more centralized information at their fingertips. The end result has been a better client experience. Constant and Consistent Communication: To support employees during this change, and as an extension to the company’s open door policy, executives hosted dedicated open office hours. These forums provided a safe, individualized environment for employees to share their concerns and provide the executive team the opportunity to remove any obstacles that may be impeding employees’ abilities to perform. We also hosted a variety of focus groups, organized by function, to open up the lines of communication and help employees understand the change, and feel part of the process.

We hosted quarterly town hall meetings to keep employees updated on the state of the company. We used common marketing strategies to gain buy-in, reinforce our message, and keep employees informed. We continue to use this forum as an additional opportunity to reiterate strategies, progress, and future goals.

Strategy 2: Training

Employees, through structured training and organic learning, continue to break down silos by using Chatter, Chatter Groups, and other functional processes within the Salesforce platform. Additionally, we refocused our monthly People, Process, Technology training series to facilitate knowledge sharing around core departmental goals and functions, and how they are aligned in support of the company’s overall goals.

Strategy 3: Process

We chose Salesforce as the tool to support our processes. Though we already had a few licenses for our sales team, we expanded the number of licenses to include all operational and client-facing team members. We began by introducing employees to the account information, so they could gain a deeper knowledge of clients and their business.We then expanded by moving the internal task management system, a custom-built SharePoint tool, into Salesforce to improve user adoption.

The rollout, and continued development of the company’s Salesforce platform, comes with constant communication and training, helping employees understand how to maximize the tool, and constant reinforcement of the importance of collaboration. As employees become more aware of the capabilities within Salesforce and the processes it has already built into the platform, they are providing new ideas to expand its use.

By integrating processes into a unified platform, we were able to reinforce teamwork and support the behavioral change needed to move from a culture of silos to a culture of collaboration and learning. Employees have become more invested in Salesforce, and are embracing this transformation.

Strategy 4: Technology

Choice Logistics began the process of eliminating silos with Salesforce. Though traditionally thought of as a CRM, Choice Logistics envisioned a platform where all departments could operate together on a daily basis, despite their particular focus in the overall process. We continue to customize objects and move operational processes into Salesforce to support our goals. Two examples of growth within the platform are value-added meetings and internal meetings. Value-added meetings are records of meetings with clients or vendors where value is brought to the relationship; issues and opportunities are identified and next steps are planned and actioned. Internal Meetings are where we record functional or cross-functional meetings. Both of these meeting types are distributed to key stakeholders, and are also visible across the organization. This helps to further eliminate silos and pave the way for collaboration. The more employees know about what is happening with our clients, the more they are able to improve the client experience.

RESULTS

The results of our Salesforce implementation are far reaching. Breaking down silos in a service organization not only improves internal operations, communication, and collaboration, it also improves working relationships with clients and vendors, and their overall satisfaction. It has also positively affected employee engagement and employee satisfaction overall. A few key highlights are:

>> Enhanced collaboration

>> A 33-percent improvement to our Net Promoter Score

>> Improved employee satisfaction

>> More timely and complete client deliverables

>> Better access to information

>> Enhanced learning environment

As we continue to build on this collaborative learning culture, more employees are identifying operational processes to integrate into Salesforce. Visibility into what the organization, departments, and individuals are doing is improving collaboration and learning. We’re now in the process of migrating our current learning management system into Salesforce, utilizing Redwing and Appinium, to further centralize our efforts and enhance our ability to provide just-in-time learning to our teams, improve their overall learning experience, and gather real-time data to help make informed decisions and track progress.

“Since we are in the service business, our success is largely dependent upon the strength of our people, and the Salesforce platform has introduced a new world of communication, training, and cross functional collaboration to our workforce,” says Anne Yarmark, EVP Human Resources & Administration, Choice Logistics. “All relevant client data is shared and captured instantly so there is internal visibility on all client initiatives across all functions. Since its inception, Salesforce has given us a customizable tool to enhance the overall client and employee experience because it has helped us to execute at a higher level. The platform has increased our productivity through efficient and effective process management, instantaneous information sharing, and core communication governance. Ultimately, the Salesforce platform has given us innovative and exciting paths to training and for preparing our workforce to be successful.”

Using Salesforce has helped us create a more collaborative approach and boost its already robust learning culture. In this more team-centric environment, employees are sharing not only information, but knowledge and experiences — key components in the company’s core values of collaboration and educating one another. With the right strategy, continued communication, and Salesforce as a tool, employees are now better enabled to function independently within their teams while coming together as a cohesive unit to support corporate goals and provide the best possible client experience.

— Kate Kearney is Director of Organizational Development & Training at Choice Logistics, Inc. Choice Logistics is a six-time Learning! 100 organization.

Published in Top Stories

If knowledge is power, then organizations who are able to effectively and quickly tap into it and distribute it to its employees are already a leg up on the competition. Organizations that are able to distribute the power to affiliates beyond its employee base may have an even greater competitive advantage.

In the context of learning, extended enterprise is learning offered to non-employees such as customers, partners and other affiliates. Aberdeen Group defines it as “learning specifically for customers and/or partners, beyond just internal stakeholders like employees and management.” It can include training, knowledge, certification or performance support to a “beyond-the-wall” group of constituents.

Many may use the terms or variations of terms “extended enterprise” or “extended enterprise learning” while some, such as Moodle use “multi-tenancy” interchangeably. The concept is the same in that multiple affiliates both inside and outside of the organization’s wall can access one learning management system (LMS) instance as separate tenants.

OPPORTUNITY IS IN THE MINDSET SHIFT

The impact of learning is powerful, it closes skills gaps and it’s a way to keep up with ever-changing technology. If executed correctly, not only will organizations keep up with the pace of change, but they can use to be an agent change agent. What happens when you shift the mindset away from training employees to building a strategic and unified global network with all company affiliates? There is an even greater potential with broad thinking and its more profitable potential; one that may earn a seat at the executive table. While the knowledge base of internal employees will increase, there is a genuine opportunity for organizations to save and make money simultaneously by extending learning beyond the walls.

Nearly a quarter of organizations cite that extended enterprise learning was one of their top goals according to an Extending Enterprise Learning: Educating the Channel to Improve Results, an Aberdeen Group study. Furthermore, “organizations with extended learning in place found a 17 percent greater year-over-year improvement in revenue per full-time equivalent [full-time employee].”

So, who is using extended enterprise learning?

Seventy-four percent of respondents offer learning to customers and 47 percent deliver extending learning to reseller/channel partners and supply chain partners, according to the 2016 Learning Platforms Study conducted by Elearning! Magazine. Some believe that if you’re not offering extended enterprise, you’re already behind your competitors.

Why aren’t all organizations taking advantage of this potentially lucrative extended enterprise learning?

Target audiences for an extended enterprise solution vary by industry but generally fall into the following categories: customers and prospects, channel partners and resellers, contingent workers and supply chain organizations. Organizations may extend learning for free or for a fee by utilizing an e-commerce component of the LMS, the latter being the heart of the solution. Additionally, certification, recertification, advanced training and accreditation programs are all potential areas for an added revenue stream or simply added value.

EXTENDING LEARNING TO CUSTOMERS AND PROSPECTS

Customers, end users and prospects fall into this category and the return on investment is a compelling argument in its favor. “Companies that extend learning to customers experienced an 800 percent greater year-over-year increase in revenue per full-time employee than companies that don’t extend learning to its customers,” according to Aberdeen Group. Online reference libraries, product trials, training and demonstrations, and online and instructor-led courses all contribute to a number of benefits.

Have you ever considered training as a lead source for your organization? This is especially helpful if your learning is relevant to the prospect and/or if your product is in fact, learning. Universities, content providers and continuing education organizations can all benefit by giving to receive. “As customers educate themselves they voluntarily absorb knowledge about products and services without costly active involvement from the sales force or channel,” reports Talent Learning’s CEO, John Leh.

The benefits of extending learning to customers and end users include:

>> Increased brand awareness

>> Increased product/service knowledge

>> Increased engagement

>> Accelerated sales cycle

>> Increased customer retention

>> Increased customer satisfaction

>> Increased customer experience

>> Improvement in relationships between customers/prospects and products

>> Reduced costs in customer and technical support

VENDOR AND CLIENT SUCCESS

Japan-based manufacturing company Mori Seiki, reveals the competitive advantage in offering extended learning to customers. Mori Seiki had a customer without a machine operator quit unexpectedly with contracts to fulfill. This customer couldn’t wait for a machine engineer to train an employee in-person to run it, so the owner and supervisor accessed online training. With their baseline knowledge of the machine and the information they obtained in the training, they were able to get back online with production with little down time. The deal was saved!

Cloud-banking company nCino, a 2016 Learning! 100 winner, extended learning beyond its walls to customers and channel partners. Doing so helped them save thousands of dollars from the reduction of printed training materials and now more efficiently disperses needed training.

EXTENDING LEARNING TO CHANNEL PARTNERS AND RESELLERS

There is data supporting the positive return of offering training to this group. According to Aberdeen Group, “Companies who extend learning to partners experienced nine times greater annual improvement in revenue per FTE than those who don’t.”

Imagine if your partners were involved in your new product launch. How would that reduce time, human resources and costs if the launch was executed concurrently through an LMS? With training offered at the same time as the internal organization, you’ll have an opportunity to increase speed to market.

Especially in situations in which channel partners bring home the most bacon, it’s imperative that a comprehensive, scalable solution is available to provide the information needed to continue selling. Security technology company McAfee delivers highly specialized training for 85,000 channel partners who need certifications before selling the respective products. This is important because these partners are responsible for 75 percent of the company’s revenue.

Extending learning to channel partners offer the following benefits:

>> Increased knowledge and collaboration

>> Improvement in relationships between companies and partners

>> Increased speed to market

EXTENDING LEARNING TO CONTINGENT WORKERS

This group comprises contractors, laborers, consultants, independent agents, and seasonal workers, etc.

The contingent workforce accounts for up to 30 percent of the staffing at some large enterprises, according to Bersin by Deloitte. And, it is on the upswing. If you aren’t supporting this group of workers now, you will be in the future.

Today the contingent workforce isn’t always treated like full time employees. Including them in an extended enterprise solution would help to bridge communication gaps, increase product knowledge and in some cases, help to instill in them the company culture and purpose. Extending learning to contingent staff benefits include:

>> Increased knowledge and collaboration

>> Decreased safety incidents

>> Expedited onboarding

>> Well-coordinated company-wide rollout

>> Increased speed to market

CONTINGENT WORKFORCE SUCCESS STORIES

Zumba Fitness needed a certification course launched to its Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN) members. The courses were deployed worldwide to thousands of users in multiple languages. Training is now available sooner and more cost-effectively to the instructors than before. Additionally, Zumba Fitness benefits from the added revenue stream.

“We see how well our instructors are responding to the platform and are engaging in the content. We are super excited to continue to build programs that will continue to inspire our instructors around the work,” says Joy Pouty, Director of Education, Programs and Training, Zumba.

Autodesk, CAD software publisher, provides teacher training to support its Autodesk Certified Instructor (ACI) Program created for anyone who teaches Autodesk software. There are 11 regional distributors across the globe managing their respective courses using an assortment of online and classroom-based training as well as user-generated content.

“We wanted a global approach because the ACI program is global, content is global and we manage this at the global level [with a system that] allows us to manage it in regional silos,” says Rickard Lautrup, Global Projects Manager at Engage Global Solutions, Autodesk.

EXTENDING LEARNING TO SUPPLY CHAIN ORGANIZATIONS

This group is made up of manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors, etc. This group understands dependencies and has a genuine interest in helping you succeed. You can quickly see how extending learning to this group has a domino effect on all sides of the supply chain.

SUPPLY CHAIN PARTNER SUCCESSES

Klein Tools, a leading manufacturer of professional hand tools and occupational protective equipment, offered training to its tradesmen in their respective professional fields. By using incentives and syndicating their courses with seven association universities, Klein Tools got the visibility, exposure, and participation they wanted. Partner benefits include:

>> Increased knowledge and collaboration

>> Increased process efficiencies

>> Increased communication of value proposition

WHERE EXTENDED ENTERPRISE IS HEADED

There are several indications that extended enterprise is here to stay, if not, grow. There are three key drivers that point to this conclusion.

1 Future LMS purchases are being based on it.

Nearly a third (29.4 percent) say an LMS purchase in the near future must have e-commerce to support for partner/customer training according to the 2016 Learning Platforms Study conducted by Elearning! Media Group.

2 There is an influx of vendors in the space.

We will be seeing more of extended enterprise according to Leh. “Lots of LMS companies are entering the market because the barrier of entry is a lot lower than it ever was before.”

3 Vendors themselves are seeing growth, making enhancements and re-positioning the solution.

While the solution has been around for a while, SumTotal now offers extended enterprise as part of the Talent Expansion® Suite the organization unveiled in early 2016.

Kristy Sadler, Chief Marketing Officer at Docebo says extended enterprise is an area where they are seeing incredible growth and opportunity.

Rory Cameron, Managing Director, Litmos by Callidus Cloud points to the company’s 32-percent increase in revenues in the second quarter of 2016 as evidence of the market’s growth.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Many vendors offer training solutions beyond the wall. Training companies are also aggregating content and selling it under umbrella brands like Upside Learning. As extended enterprise learning expands, human resources and learning leaders will be revenue generators as well as strategic business partners, earning a seat at the table.

If your company doesn’t have an extended enterprise initiative deployed, or an LMS to support it, this may be some extra incentive for implementing one. If you are in the majority of medium-to-large sized organizations that already have one, find out if your provider offers an extended enterprise solution. It may be well worth your time to consider your future training needs and determine whether or not your organization, affiliates and bottom line would benefit from an extended enterprise learning solution.

Published in Top Stories

Elearning! Magazine invited Jonathan Fear, Senior Director, Coupa Software Inc., to share his insights and advice on scaling training in a fast-paced service-dominate enterprise. In this interview, Jonathan shared his best practices and lessons learned.

Q:WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE LEARNING SPACE?

Most of the trends we see in the learning field are due to the mind shift that has happened in the way we learn and see our career progression. This is a result of innovations in cloud, mobile, social, and e-commerce areas. Technology has changed how we learn, where we learn and from whom we learn. Today, pull learning is more prevalent than push learning and learners want to consume just-in-time resources, learn from their peers, and leverage their social network to get to the best content quickly. These are the trends we see in response to this cultural shift:

>> Rise of stand-alone LMS platforms

>> Emphasis on learners’ experience and ease of use

>> Attention on expert content at a variety of price and quality points >> Significance of shorter, contextual learning content

>> Focus on deeper and broader quality support >> Importance of integration to existing platforms

Q:WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR ORGANIZATION’S UNIQUE LEARNING CHALLENGES?

We were looking for a solution that could support our partner community and also provide a platform for our own internal resources to ensure an equitable learning experience. We struggled with adoption on our previous platform and because of our fast growth we needed to find a strategic partner who could provide the thought leadership and value drivers to help us scale. We were also looking for a platform with a high level of easeof-use for both learners and administrators.

Q:WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE SEEKING A NEW LEARNING PLATFORM?

Coupa delivers measurable Value As A Service so we believe that when we are working with our customers, we have an obligation to create value; there is a partnership associated with that which includes a level of thought leadership to drive adoption. We were looking for a vendor that provides that same level of thought leadership and value add to help us fully adopt their learning platform.

In recent years, there has been a flood of learning vendors coming to the market, and we found that not all learning management system (LMS) vendors are equal. We selected Litmos, which offered deep domain expertise and thought-leadership in the learning space. We were also looking for a solution that is entirely cloud-based and agile to respond to customer needs and also innovate with each product release. We wanted a partner who is continually challenging themselves to always be better, just as we do. Ultimately, we felt that the partnership with Litmos allowed us work with a company that would grow with us and we were proud to support, and would support us equally as well.

Q:HOW DID YOU GET APPROVAL FOR AN ADDITIONAL LEARNING INVESTMENT?

Coupa lives by the motto of pre-approval for service initiatives, so there’s an approval process to which we must adhere. We had an existing platform in place, and the rationale is that it’s always easier to stick with the vendor you have currently. In order to make the shift we had to present the business case to our CFO. Since we have taken a holistic approach with our training, there were many aspects that helped us build our business case. Not only are we utilizing Litmos to train our internal employees, we are also using it for partner and customer training and certification.

We homed in on a few key points in each of these channels:

Internal Benefits: Having a well-trained internal staff means that they are able to begin adding value to the organization quickly, and ongoing effectiveness, engagement, and customer success is increased.

Partner Benefits: Certifying our partner base allows us to scale much more rapidly. One of the common mistakes with building a highly successful partner channel is not training them as if they are an extension of your team. Having a partner training and certification program truly allows us to put trust in our partners and see them as a serious asset to our business.

Customer Benefits: With so many software as a service (SaaS) solutions on the market these days, ensuring that your customer base is enabled through training is a huge competitive advantage. We focused on this in our business case as increasing adoption has a big effect on customer advocacy and ongoing usage.

The results are in: Growth has increased ten times; training and adoption increased by 300 percent; and the company has doubled in size.

Q:HOW ARE YOU CREATING CONTENT USED IN YOUR CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS?

Our current courses are a mix of externally built content in Storyline, and through native modules from within Litmos. We have found that building the actual content in Storyline works best, but we are also taking advantage of surveys, exams, and learning paths natively within Litmos. Learning paths have been extremely useful for us to create an experience that is truly fit for the learner. By using the native functionality within Litmos and combining features like surveys and learning paths, both our adoption and learner satisfaction rates have rapidly increased.

Q:HOW DO YOU MANAGE CHANGES TO THE CONTENT?

We are a VaaS-based organization and are very agile in the way that we do business. That means that there is continual change that we have to be able to support from a training and documentation perspective. So we have taken a modular approach in the way we build our courses. At Coupa, we believe there needs to be a single source of truth so that if something changes we can update it in one place and ensure that populates everywhere else. We’re able to pull out a single building block within the course and make our updates there. This requires us to be very organized in the structure of our account so we can easily find specific building blocks when changes happen.

Q:HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE DURING THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS?

The process of implementing Litmos was seamless. We were able to go live shortly after singing and invite users to the platform with ease.  We also successfully integrated Litmos and Salesforce;  their integration is offered through the Salesforce AppExchange and is a certified app.  Since the certification was already in place, it put our IT team at ease during implementation.  The Litmos integration is out of the box. We went through the necessary steps to get it started -- and we were off and running very quickly. Lastly, as I mentioned, during implementation Litmos provided us with the thought leadership required to think big and take our future plans into consideration knowing that we were on a high growth trajectory.

Q:HOW HAS THE INTEGRATION WITH SALESFORCE MADE YOUR PROGRAM MORE SUCCESSFUL?

Many of our teams here at Coupa practically live within Salesforce, so it was definitely a requirement to have a seamless integration in place. We’re taking advantage of numerous areas of the Litmos and Salesforce integration, but one that really stands out for me is reporting.

Reporting is absolutely critical if you’re going to scale your business. By having our training program integrated with Salesforce, we can determine within an account who has taken training and extend those types of insights to others within the organization. This allows for an extra level of visibility which is beneficial when understanding what training someone has taken or whether they are certified. For example, if you have your services or support teams working in Salesforce, they can clearly see if the person with whom they are working has completed all necessary training which allows for an all-around more efficient process.

Q:CAN YOU SHARE ANY LESSONS LEARNED? HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR SUCCESS?

Overall, we’re thrilled with the success that we’ve had with Litmos. Before we started using the solution, we struggled with motivating people to actually want to take training. This was probably a combination of a poor learner experience and unproven content. Now we’re seeing our training offerings scale quickly and our audiences are coming back time and again to learn as much as they can about Coupa. In fact, when another LMS is introduced for complaince training we often get asked "can't we put this in Litmos?". We’re also seeing a big focus on self-service compared to standard prescription because the learning system itself is more engaging. It’s been a paradigm shift from the old one-and-done training to a combined understanding from learners that this is the platform where learning will take place. Because of the rapid adoption of the learning platform, we’re now being approached by thought leaders and subject matters experts with content to share throughout the university. Due to the increased level of shared thought leadership among our partners, we’re seeing the added benefit of content curation along with the content that we are creating.

Q:WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO COLLEAGUES LOOKING TO ROLL OUT A CUSTOMER AND PARTNER CERTIFICATION PROGRAM?

We have learned a lot through our journey of building Coupa University. If I had to focus on one overall piece of advice, I would recommend an initial focus on building a program that has the vision to scale. Many factors fall into this process, but you certainly have to be willing to make the upfront investment and work with an LMS partner who can help guide you as you grow. A huge component in rolling out a solution that scales is having a well-organized implementation. All published training has a shelf life and we have used reference codes and categories within Litmos to help us understand who created it, when it was created, what version it is, and which areas the product training applies.

Q:WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE PLANS?

We absolutely plan to continue to stay at the cutting-edge with our training programs and take advantage of the new innovative functionality. Right now we are looking to extend our partner certification reporting and have that fully integrated with Salesforce like we have for our employees and customers. Moving forward, we hope to have a training checks and balances process in place which does an automated check to ensure that everyone assigned to an activity, whether a partner, internal employee, or customer, has been adequately trained prior to taking on the engagement. We’re confident that this is something we can achieve with Litmos as our LMS partner.

Published in Top Stories

Ignite eLearning training courses are enhancing safety, loss prevention, compliance, operational, and employee development programs for Impact Training Solutions. The Ignite eLearning service provides courses for clients without long-term contracts. Customers can also customize training programs by uploading their own content directly into Ignite, further streamlining the distribution of training materials and compliance management.

Ignite eLearning includes a wide range of courses for professional drivers, office personnel and technicians. As an option, Impact offers the only fully managed online training program in the transportation industry. Impact currently manages online training for more than 90 fleets. CarriersEdge will be powering the courses.

“With Ignite eLearning, we are building on the comprehensive services we offer our customers,” said Kelly Anderson, President, Impact Training Solutions.

“The CarriersEdge approach to interactive online training helps our clients improve their training and compliance programs by offering a better learning experience and content, including the information and techniques needed to help make our customers successful today and proactively prepared for tomorrow.”

—Learn more: http://impacttrans.com/

Published in New Products

Elearning! Media Group, the U.S.  trade magazine publisher of Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines announced their media partnership with the Federal Government Distance Learning Association’s (www.FGDLA.us)  Government Learning Technology Symposium (GLTS) in 2016. FGDLA is co-locating GLTS with Government Video EXPO. Registration to GLTS is free to federal government employees, contractors and professionals in the industry.

It has been a few years since our last GLTS and the time is right for us to return to the marketplace. Distance learning, in all its forms, is a thriving and innovative industry. The FGDLA is committed to delivering its federal government members access to a conference meeting their educational needs,” reports Alex Autry, President, FGDLA.

About GLTS

T​he 2016 GLTS will be held at the Washington D.C. Convention Center, Dec. 7-8, 2016. It is co-located with The GV EXPO, the East Coast’s largest technology event designed for video, broadcast and AV professionals. The GLTS includes two days of consecutive sessions featuring presentations on instructional design basics, 508 compliance, gaming, mobile learning, video and multimedia design for distance learning, cognitive science/learning theories, LMS integration, and much more. The FGDLA is also hosting its annual awards recognizing Federal Government agencies/ organizations excellence in distance learning.   Access the complete GLTS program at: https://static.secure.website/wscfus/4899501/3917302/fgdla-glts-program.pdf.

Registration Details

GLTS conference and GV Expo access if free to federal government employees, contractors and professionals in the industry. To secure your complimentary registration visit: https://www.compusystems.com/servlet/ar?evt_uid=687

GLTS History

In 1998, a group of Federal Agency representatives held the GLTS at Gallaudet University’s Kellogg Center, Washington, D.C.  Those representatives worked for agencies including Centers for Disease Control (CDC), The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US Air Force, and the Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Energy (DOE), and Veterans Affairs (VA). The Symposium was planned by representatives of the supporting Federal Government agencies, and conference logistics were coordinated by the Graduate School, USDA. Their purpose was to create a venue in the Washington D.C. metro area to network and share best practices concerning distance learning in the Federal Government.

The two-day symposium featured 36 presentations and was attended by over 250 people from 35 different federal agencies.  The Symposium published proceedings and made attendee lists available to all federal government participants.  The Symposium was a grass-roots effort rather than an officially sponsored Federal Government event. Due to the lack of sponsorship and financial resources, the last GLTS Symposium was held in 2001.

About Elearning! Media Group

Elearning! Media Group is owned by B2B Media Group LLC. Elearning! Media Group consists of twelve media products including: Elearning! Magazine and E-magazine, Government Elearning! E-Magazine, Elearning! Alert, SalesTec eNews,  2elearning.com, Elearning! Web Seminar Series, Enterprise Learning! Summit, Virtual Learning! Summit and Enterprise Learning! Conference. Elearning! Media Group serves the $225 billion learning and workplace technology market.  Suppliers and practitioners can follow us online at 2elearning.com; on Twitter: 2elearning or #ELSummit; via Facebook: Elearning!-Magazine or LinkedIn: Elearning! Magazine Network or Elearning! Summit. 

About FGDLA

FGDLA Info Sheet: https://static.secure.website/wscfus/4899501/3421285/fgdla-partner-info-sheet.pdf

Published in Latest News

 

How will Salesforce reach $10 billion sales? Will Twitter be a Salesforce product or sell to Disney? How will Einstein close more sales for you and me?

Discover the answers at Dreamforce October 4-6, Moscone Center. Join our editors at these seven Must Attend events:

 

1.       The Sales Executive Summit at Marriott Marquis.

Forty-four sales leaders from Amazon Web Services, LinkedIn and Twitter (to name a few) share their secrets to culture, development, leadership and technology integration. Pre-registration required. Tues, Oct 4th 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM at Marriott Marquis

2.       Tony Robbins Keynote

Get ready for a sales workout with Robbins. He will define, confound, and motivate sales performers. Can’t wait to get my fix. Tues, Oct 4th 4:30-6:30 PM at Moscone Ctr

3.       Shark Tank Meets Dreamforce at DreamPitch Competition.

Marc Cuban, Will.i.am and Chris Sacca judge the next great salesforce cloud app from creative idea-ologists. The winner can receive up to $200,000 in cash and prizes. Tues, Oct 4th, 1:00-2:00 PM Moscone West, Keynote Rm 3

4.       Marc Benioff Keynote

A must attend session for all Dreamers. Let’s see Einstein at work. What is the roadmap to $10 billion? Stay tuned here. Wed, Oct 5th 1:00 – 3:00 PM Moscone Ctr

5.       U2 concert for Dreamfest & Benefit for UCSF’s Children’s Hospitals.

Got a $1000 to donate, this is ‘the concert’ to attend. Wed Oct 5th Daly City Cow Palace

6.       Einstein is in the building.

This keynote reveals AI for Everyone and what it means. Thur Oct 6th 3:00-4:00 PM Moscone Ctr

7.       CloudExpo is the place for innovation, sales and technology.

Don’t miss the opportunity to view the creativity of this community in one place. Tues-Fri Oct 4-7th, hours vary. Moscone Ctr.

Not coming to Dreamforce?

You can still see the Keynotes via Salesforce LIVE at Dreamforce Streams. OR, you can attend your local Dreamforce Hangout.  

 

Published in Top Stories

Neuroscience Should Be Changing the Way You Design Sales Training

BY MARGIE MEACHAM

Suppose you had the chance to be present at the very moment of a world-changing discovery? Imagine sitting next to Marie Curie in her lab as she discovers the power of radioactivity or walking with Neil Armstrong on the moon. Maybe you are seeing the DNA double-helix for the first time with Watson, Crick, and Wilson. If you had the chance to be a part of one of these great moments of discovery, would you take it?

Right now, we all are embarking on a great adventure. We are discovering how the brain really works by watching it in the very act of cognition. We are expanding our understanding of how the human brain, a quivering bundle of more than 400 billion neurons, uses electrical charges to transmit and store sensations, feelings, decisions, fears, thoughts, and even our sense of self, on a constant and ever-changing basis. Someday soon, we’ll unlock the code that allows our brains to retrieve the sights, smells, and sounds of your seventh birthday as vividly as the first time you experienced it. And we’ll start to figure out what this wonderful, beautiful landscape of neurons, dendrites, and axons means to those of us who strive to help people learn.

For the past decade, advances in neuroscience have shed new light on how the brain learns. While this science is still in its infancy and there are more questions than answers right now, many teachers, instructional designers and trainers are implementing brain-aware techniques into their work as educators. Yet a quick review of the top 20 sales programs in 2016 offers pretty much the same solution selling approach that has been in vogue for decades. While the rest of the education and training profession is finding new ways to apply the expanding understanding of how brains work, sales trainers often seem stuck in the past. This would be fine if the selling techniques of the past were actually working, but new research shows that people often make a major purchase decision in spite of the sales person, rather than because of him or her. If you want to give your organization a competitive advantage, here are some practical applications of brain science you can use today to revitalize your sales training programs.

TEACH SALESPEOPLE HOW THE BRAIN MAKES DECISIONS

Think about a major purchase decision you made recently. You probably conducted careful research online, compared feature sets, searched for product reviews, sought out the opinion of friends and colleagues, and ultimately, made what you consider to be a logical decision. At least, that’s how you felt during the process. But you might be surprised to learn that the brain processes emotional and purchasing decisions in the same place — revealing that our emotions factor into any major purchase.

Recently, two different research teams at Duke University discovered that they were studying the same part of the brain to understand two brain functions that were previously thought to be completely unrelated: emotion and high-value purchasing decisions. The region that is getting all this attention is the vmPFC (ventromedial prefrontal cortex), which is located between the eyes in the front of the brain. By watching this region while people are making decisions, scientists have discovered that it’s most active when the subject is asking questions such like: “Is this product or service really worth the price I would have to pay to acquire it?” “Will I regret this decision later on?” “Is this really the very best choice I can make in this situation?”

In answering questions that appear to be about discoverable facts, the vmPFC considers some expected factors, such as the cost of one product compared to a similar product with similar features, expected financial benefits from the acquisition and use of the product, and so forth. But it also factors in some less quantifiable considerations, including status, emotional satisfaction, excitement, and small rewards such as snacks or prizes. This was quite surprising, because the scientists expected to see the cerebral cortex, the seat of our conscious thought, running the show. It turns out that the cerebral cortex doesn’t become involved in the decision until much later in theprocess. What’s considered the logical part of the brain starts coming up with reasonable sounding explanations for a purchase decision after it has been made at an unconscious level. In other words, by the time you can explain the pros and cons of two competing products to yourself or another person, your brain has already decided.

So, did you buy that expensive human capital management application because it would give you more hard data about the effectiveness of your leadership development program, or because it would make you feel smarter than your peers? The answer is most likely a bit of both. If sales people are too focused on making a logical case for their customer, they may miss significant opportunities where the buyer is responding emotionally to the perceived benefits of a particular choice. As a sales professional myself, I am imagining a few readers right now nodding their heads and thinking, “Ah, so that’s what happened to the sale I was sure I had sewn up.”

As early as 1994, Antonio Damasio made the case that emotions are a critical part of the brain’s decision-making process. Because emotions and logic are linked in our decision-making process, we must teach our sales people to allow time for buyers to process the emotional content related to their decisions. Remember that these emotions are happening at an unconscious level, so it may take some prodding to help the buyer bring these feelings up to the surface where they can be examined and discussed.

TEACH SALES PEOPLE THAT THERE REALLY IS POWER IN POSITIVE THINKING AS LONG AS IT’S GENUINE

Many sales training programs focus on the skill of influence. The reasoning is that if you can persuade the buyer to have the same enthusiasm for your product that you display, he or she will be buy it. An interesting study has studied the process of influence by observing brains trying to sell ideas to other people. One group was assigned the role of the intern. Group members were told to bring movie ideas to members of the other group, the producer, and convince these people to make movies from their ideas. Interns were assigned these ideas, which they were supposed to sell.

By viewing a live MRI scan during the experiment, scientists discovered that they could accurately predict whether or not a producer would buy an idea by looking at two responses in the brain: anticipated reward and what’s considered the salesperson effect. If the intern believed that her idea would be accepted, her brain anticipated this success and produced dopamine, delivering a positive feeling of success. She literally experienced her success in her mind before it happened. If the intern did not believe the idea would be accepted, it generally wasn’t. This is pretty much what common sense might tell us, right? We’ve all been told that positive thinking yields better results than negative thinking, and this research confirms that intuitive belief.

In addition to the reward-behavior predictor, scientists found that some people were just more convincing than others. When these people spoke about their ideas, the same area of the brain was stimulated in the intern’s brain and in the producer’s. In other words, the presenter was able to trigger the reward stimulus in another person’s brain. The scientists called this the salesperson’s effect.

It isn’t clear if this effect is the result of some sort of innate ability or brain structure, or something that can be developed over time. Further studies likely will answer those questions.

Soon it may be possible to hire salespeople by watching their MRIs as they attempt to sell something to another participant. We might be able to determine a leader’s communication skills by measuring the strength of his salesperson effect on team members’ brains. If we can discover the mechanism that is triggering this effect, we may be able to even train people to enhance this ability. What we do know is that when two people are communicating well, they are literally in sync, in that their brain waves produced by the electro-chemical communication between neurons is modulating at the same frequency. In a video from a neuroscience conference in Amsterdam, several pairs of people sit quietly and use the feedback coming from sensors that picked up their brain waves to synchronize, which is indicated by the color (or wavelength) begin produced by their brains.

Daniel Goleman, expanding on his initial work in emotional intelligence, has discovered that the brains of two people who trust each other have a remarkable symmetry — their brains are so in sync that they exhibit high levels of brain activity in the same parts of the brain at the same time. The same synchronicity has been found in couples dancing and musicians playing together. Many successful sales professionals have sensed this syncing of brain waves when things are going extremely well in the sales process.

TEACH SALES PEOPLE TO BUILD TRUST THROUGH GENUINE CONNECTIONS

Neuroscience suggests that the less we trust the salesperson, the riskier we believe the purchase decision and the less likely we are to act, regardless of the product’s benefits. Approach-avoidance conflict is a term used to describe a major decision that has both appealing and unappealing elements to it. Since most people inherently mistrust salespeople, nearly every major purchase decision falls into this category. How can we feel good about a deal we’ve just made with a perceived devil? Neuroscientist Paul Zak was one of the first to identify the neurotransmitter oxytocin as an indicator of a high degree of trust toward a stranger, as exhibited by heightened levels of oxytocin. Oxytocin and other “messenger molecules” are released in response to internal and external stimuli, flooding specific parts of the brain and triggering specific emotional reactions. Zak found that the more oxytocin is coursing through your brain, the more likely you are to trust people. It stands to reason that if we can stimulate oxytocin in the buyer’s brain, we can overcome the deeply ingrained tendency to distrust a sales representative. Here are a few behaviors that stimulate oxytocin and make us believe that an individual is trustworthy.

1

The Power of Touch

Being touched by another human being stimulates oxytocin and other transmitters and increases the feelings of trust toward that individual. Zak found that hugging, in particular, generates high degrees of trust in both participating brains. Handshaking can also improve the degree of trust between two individuals and make the prospect of striking a deal more likely.

2

Storytelling Builds Trust and Connection

Stories have a profound effect on the brain. Brain imaging studies have shown that when we are immersed in a story, our brains respond as though we are the protagonist of the narrative. Therefore, stories about others buying and using the product can help buyers see themselves making the purchase decision and generate positive emotions about the product and the salesperson.

3

You Can’t Fake Trustworthiness

Some sales training companies try to give sales representatives a list of behaviors which, if practiced, will increase their ability to generate trust and build relationships. If only it were that simple. In “The Selfish Gene,” Richard Dawkins explains that our brains are highly tuned survival machines, so at some point in our evolution it must have become necessary to detect lies in order to stay alive. Today, our brains are capable of detecting false statements or actions within milliseconds. We may not be able to express the reaction in words, but we know at “a gut level” (really a brain level) that some people are not genuine. Trustworthiness cannot be faked; your buyer’s brain will detect the falsehood every time. Turning again to my review of the top 20 sales training organizations, I see a familiar pattern. Their content seems to focus on external behaviors that will make salespeople appear more credible. Neuroscience tells us that we should focus instead on teaching sales professionals to be genuine, sincere, and trustworthy — a much bigger challenge with a much greater potential payoff.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

We’re still figuring out how to use the exciting information coming out of neuroscience, but we can start applying these and other insights now, to make our sales training – and all our training programs – more brain-aware. It’s a brave new world and learning professionals have the opportunity — and the responsibility — to continue to adapt as new information becomes available. Whether we realize it or not, we are observers to one of the greatest eras of discovery in the history of the human race. We’re living in the early days of the age of discovering our true selves, and it is going to change not only how we view the sales profession, but how we understand ourselves.

—Margie Meacham is the Chief Freedom Officer, Learningtogo. She helps people learn and improve performance by applying our evolving understanding of how the brain works, as revealed through neuroscience.

Published in Top Stories
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