Sales retention
The Learning 2015 Conference was jam-packed with thought-provoking sessions about the trends and future direction of corporate learning and development.

Here are 4 standout themes that resonated with us. Keep these in mind as you gear up your plans for 2016.

  1. Know the problem you’re trying to solve. Building a solid business case for learning is often a struggle, particularly when you’re dealing with so-called soft skills. In his step-by-step session, “How to Gather the Right Evidence to Convey the Business Value of Learning,” Regis Chasse of Capgemini University emphasized that the only way you can design learning that creates relevant value is by really understanding the sponsor’s business problems, why the current state needs to change and what success or improvement will look like.

As you implement measurement activities, he added, don’t get overly caught up in specific ROI figures. Business stakeholders are more concerned with whether or not business outcomes were achieved. (And keep in mind, “delivered training” is rarely the kind of outcome they’re looking for.)

  1. It takes more than training to enable behavior change. During the case-study-style session about an initiative at Xerox, “Enabling a Culture of Sales Practice & Manager Coaching,” presenters Ron Cowan, Liz Janssen and John Leutner reminded anyone who still believes training alone will create behavior change that they’re kidding themselves. We were nodding along enthusiastically as they talked about the fact that true behavior change requires on-the-job coaching, reinforcement and consistent role modeling of “best of” examples.

But it’s clearly an issue that many continue to grapple with. NCR’s Lori Adams asked attendees in her session, “Reinventing Sales Training,” for their biggest sales training challenges, and “lack of accountability and coaching after training” was one of the top issues. Reinforcement on the job, she said, is key to embedding behavior change.

  1. It’s up to you to get management involved. Both Chasse and the Xerox session touched on the key role of management in supporting and reinforcing learning implementations, and they made one thing very clear: it’s up to the learning professionals to be specific about how and what managers are expected to do.

In sales training in particular, it can be difficult to engage managers in this process, and yet, especially in the sales performance arena, managers play a vital role. The Xerox presentation pointed out that sales manager training and sales training are not the same thing. The manager is the coach—and needs specific skills and tools to do that job.

  1. L&D needs to own its more consultative role. A theme throughout these sessions was a general need on the part of L&D to take more of a leadership and proactive approach: You can’t wait until after-the-fact to start thinking about business outcomes or measurement. If management’s not involved, you’re the one that needs to do something about it. As more informal and social learning options become available, you need to figure out how to curate them to best serve the needs of your audiences.

In their session, “Less Formal, More Experiential: Aligning Strategy to the Modern Workplace,” Dave Haynes and Sierra Beal of Yahoo! challenged attendees to take the reigns rather than getting steamrolled over by new technology, redundant and irrelevant efforts, or stakeholder resistance to change.

In sum, learning leaders have to be clear on what they’re trying to achieve and then build that into their plans if they want to prove the value of what they do. Presenters and attendees alike agreed: L&D should be challenging the status quo of the learning landscape and continually pushing away from their focus on supplying learning to curating the best learning experiences to meet individual and organizational outcomes.

If you attended the conference, we’d love to hear what resonated with you. Send us a tweet @Sell_Integrity.

About the Author
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Will Milano

Vice President of Marketing

Will has driven brand and content marketing strategies for leading professional services companies for two decades including 13 years’ experience...

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