2016 ATD Conference summary: Day four
Staff Writer | Posted Wednesday, July 06, 2016 |
The following article was written by Tom Merritt, Principal at Latitude CG:
Latitude was in attendance at the 2016 Association for Talent Development (ATD) conference in beautiful downtown Denver. I'm excited to share a little bit about what I learned from the sessions I attended to provide some insight into what's going on in the Training Industry. Each week I will feature one action-packed day filled with my experiences while attending the four-day ATD Conference.
Day Four Observations
As I attended the final conference day I noticed showed much, much lower attendance than previous days. Each of the sessions I went to were very sparsely attended.
As ideas and information from all the sessions bounced around in my mind, I began to think I was starting to get a picture of where this industry was and is trying to go:
Session One: Bringing Data into Training
- Historically, training has focused on compliance and regulatory issues, intended to protect companies from the possibility of significant problems in these areas. In other words, training was focusing on avoiding or reducing risk, not improving performance.
- Now, business is demanding more from its training organizations, wanting to improve performance. Compliance and regulatory training can, in many ways, be handled by updating previous training or just making more materials available. The training industry is trying to re-think how to make itself more relevant to business performance.
This was conducted by the global program leader of SAP training.
Rather than a presentation on data (as I expected), this session ended up being more about discussing a slight modification to the ADDIE process for instructional design.
ADDIE is a buzzword in the industry which stands for:
Her primary focus was adding a “D” to the beginning of ADDIE, now representing it as “DADDIE”. The “D” represents “Define”, and this is where you bring in the business data to “define” what you want to impact with your training.
- Analyze – the task of understanding what it is you need to train
- Design – the task of bringing your analysis into the design of the training content
- Develop – implementing your training design into the training content
- Implement – deliver the training
- Evaluate – evaluate the effect or impact of the training
Although she didn’t go in to much detail SAP's data, she did have a couple of interesting things to say about it:
SAP has their own LMS which they market to anyone who has their ERP system and to the general training market as well.
- The business data (absenteeism, innovation, stress levels, etc.) were difficult to obtain. SAP is a German company, and European Union privacy laws and other regulations make it both an organizational and legal challenge to get that data.
- She admitted her analytics were not refined. She mentioned that sometimes the best you can do with data and analytics is just to get started in this area, do your best and improve the analytics / metrics / measurement as time goes on
Session Two: Winning with Senior Decision Makers
In this session, a panel of training leaders from well-known companies answered questions from a facilitator about how the selected organizations develop their sales organizations. The panel:
They had a lot to talk about. I captured some of the highlights, mostly just comments from each of the panel members:
- Current global sales training program manager from Xerox
- Former global sales training manager from Microsoft (now with Kony)
- Current global sales training manager from Medtronics
- Train your sales staff to keep up with all of your contacts; no one knows how the world will change in two years. Requirements and needs may make a client who at first had no need for your services/product be in great need of it in two years. And people buy from whom they know.
- During training, the people who learn the most are the ones who take old-fashioned pen and paper notes. There is something about the process of linking thoughts with the physical action of writing that embeds the information in student’s minds for better recall.
- There is no “one best way” to do sales. They all mentioned that they regularly talk to their sales leaders to try and extract the most effective practices, and share that through formalized training with the rest of the sales force, and then follow-up to make sure behaviors change.
- They make use of whiteboarding extensively; at strategic sales meetings, they brainstorm about their markets, approaches, activities, offerings, communications… and try to evaluate what impacts what the most.
- They are amazed at how poor most sales efforts are. Sales people contact clients with no knowledge of the client’s business, no familiarity with their business problems, no recommendations from anyone the client knows, and expect that the busy manager will be impressed by a list of features and functions, or previous projects, or ranking in the industry, or… whatever. It won’t happen. The best sales staff are those who prepare the best by studying the needs of the client and their current business problems and show how to address those… and connect through a personal reference known to the client.
- Marcel Eisma (Microsoft/Kony) - If you want to sell a software product, represent your client's brand in the product. This is the single most-important first step. Make sure the client sees their logo, their brands, and their information in the product.
- Xerox – programs that automate learning as much as possible to share best practices information will help a lot.
- Xerox used to have a global sales force focused on regions. They have completely revised this to focus on accounts. They are trying to connect the right people with specific accounts, rather than arbitrarily assigning geographical areas to sales staff.
- Xerox tracks information in Salesforce to determine if sales staff are following up properly with clients per their training.
- Marcel Eisma (Microsoft/Kony) said they looked for the following leadership qualities in their sales staff:
- Humility – anyone who comes off like they know everything or can do everything is almost immediately rejected by clients. If they can admit that they don’t know something (but will look it up rather than make it up), they are actually trusted more by customers.
- Vulnerability - He said “vulnerability is very powerful”. I interpreted that as the ability to willingly admit you are wrong, or admit someone else is right, is an important quality in sales leadership.
- Knowledgeable – sales leaders are always trying to learn more about their product so they can speak about it better, about the industry so they can discuss trends with clients, and about their client so they can better discuss how to meet the client’s needs.
- Medtronics: They don’t even have a formalized sales process. Instead, their view is that to do effective sales training, identify the characteristics of the best performers, extract it and operationalize it (through training and follow-up reinforcement).
Subscribe to our Connections Newsletter and receive all of the ATD Conference blog postings right to your inbox!