Case Study 6. " Ongoing Professional" Skills Training

You are the CEO of Worldwide E-Consultants, a services company specializing in all manner of IT computer services and consulting. You have 3,000 employees at seven different locations in six time zones.

Many of your employees, although not your key employees, were recruited primarily for their technical skills with the hopes that their professional skills would grow on the job. But you've noticed that many of the rough edges are not smoothing out just by working on the job. As a consequence, you're setting up a new policy that requires each employee to complete five days of "professional" training each year in such topics as:

- Negotiating

- Leadership

- Business Issues

- Teamwork

- Running meetings

What's at Stake?

The training case study here is similar to Case Study #5 in that it's important to your business, but it's not critical. You'd like to have everyone better trained in these professional areas. But your business will continue at roughly current levels in the short term if your employees don't improve their professional-type skills. Again, this case study falls into the category of a "strategically good thing to do" as long as it's not going to cost too much.

Student Motivation

Your employees will have good intentions, but they will also need a job requirement like completing five days of this training every year. That five-day requirement is the key to the student motivation. What happens to the employees who meet the requirement? What happens to those who don't?

Note: Stop a moment and think of your own e-learning solution before reading on.

You don't have to create your own e-learning courseware if you can buy it from industry vendors.

Solution Factors

As in Case Study #5, a good solution approach here is to offer self-directed, on-demand training to these students. The students can take the e-learning courses on their own at their convenience. You should try to buy this standard training from industry vendors instead of creating it yourself.

If you are currently sending employees to classroom courses for this sort of training, on-demand e-learning will result in an immediate savings in travel costs. A critical element of the solution must also include a tracking mechanism for students who complete e-learning courses. They need to get credit on their human resources record for completing the courses.

To help with student motivation, you could set up the e-learning solution so that you have a threaded discussion Web page for students taking the same course at roughly the same time. Students can leave messages at the page for others to respond to. In addition, you can involve a mentor or instructor in these message-based discussions.

And you should think of other rewards for faithful students.

Case Study 7. New Salesperson Training in " How to Sell"

You are the sales manager of Really Kool Hardware Products, and you hire at least fifty to sixty salespersons each year who need training in the basics of "how to sell." This is not just training in "how to sell your company's products" but training in basic sales techniques. These new employees are generally college graduates in computer science with sales potential but no sales experience and no demonstrable sales skills.

What Are the Stakes?

Your company's revenues depend on getting these new salespeople fully up to speed and out selling. A new-hire salesperson can't drive revenue for your company until he knows the minimum about selling. It's also important to find as early as possible those who aren't cut out for a career in sales.

Student Motivation

The new salespersons are very motivated to do this training because they know their job depends on it. If they don't learn how to be a salesperson, they won't have a job.

Note: Stop a moment and think of your own e-learning solution before reading on.

Solution Factors

You could construct a four-part sales e-learning class like this: Part 1: Knowledge of Sales Basics. This is self-directed, on-demand training delivered via the Web, with tracking and a quiz for each course module. This is useful for information transfer, but it doesn't do much for sales skills. And you're going to need a skilled salesperson who knows how to do it, not just a person who is knowledgeable about sales theory.

Part 2: Sales Case Studies. An interim step for gaining sales skills is a series of collaborative sessions with other new persons at different locations all over the company. In virtual teams, and with an experienced instructor to guide them, the new salespersons will take up sales case studies, figure out answers as a team, and present the responses online to the instructor. All of this will happen over the Internet.

Part 3: Face-to-Face Sessions. The next step is for the sales students to participate in face-to-face sessions with an instructor in order to learn the one-on-one sales techniques. (If such face-to-face sessions are impossible to organize, this can be conducted over the Internet as well, but it needs to be either one-on-one sessions or very small teams of students.)

Part 4: Ongoing Mentoring. The final step is for an experienced salesperson to be assigned to each salesperson to act as a mentor for a couple of months. This mentoring can occur via e-mail, via instant messaging, or by phone.

Instead of having the student display his new sales skills face to face, you could have the student videotape himself and send several of those for instructor critique. With a low-cost PC camera, it might even be done over the Web.

Key to making this work is keeping the focus on the skills taught in Parts 2 and 3, instead of on the knowledge covered in Part 1. Selling is a skill, and it is not enough to "know about" sales theory and product facts. It's one thing to know all about the physics of swinging a baseball bat, but it's another thing altogether to hit home runs off major league pitching.

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