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Ten Transformational Ideas from the CEdMA Spring Conference

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I recently had the privilege of attending our CEdMA Spring Conference hosted at CA Technologies in Santa Clara, California.   Not only did I have the opportunity to network with many of you face-to-face, but I captured several ideas that I strongly believe will help me build a better training business for my current company (Black Duck Software).  For me this is what CEdMA is all about.  A chance to learn from my peers and use that newfound knowledge and inspiration to drive changes that will ultimately increase my value to Black Duck and more importantly drive better financial results (from software sales) and higher customer satisfaction (to reduce churn and drive up-sell opportunities). 

Below I’ve summarized what I believe are ten transformational ideas for education leaders at technology companies to consider.    If you want more detail, be sure to login to www.cedma.org and visit the Goldmine where you can find copies of all of the conference presentation material for download.

If you missed our Spring Conference, I strongly encourage you sign up for our Fall Conference – stay tuned for details!

Finally, congratulations to our peers at Kronos for winning the CEdMA Impact Award 2016.  A press release with details is coming soon – keep an eye out for that!

Without further ado – here are the 10 transformational ideas gathered at our Spring Conference that I’d like to share:

  1. Sell Learning as a Subscription.  Blended all-you-can-eat programs work best.  Align with software sales model (particularly if you work for a SaaS company).  Add content regularly – every single month!  Make sure you offer a trial period so customers can get a taste.  Ungate some of the content and publish on YouTube to establish expertise and brand content to your learning offering (for example “Black Duck Academy”).  Get sellers on-board with selling as EARLY as possible – get on the agenda for new hire sales training!  Get global sales leader on-board – make sure they have a stake in the program’s success – see if they will offer a SPIFF to the seller who sells the most learning subscriptions or better yet add a kicker to the sellers comp plan.  Send a sales newsletter – make sure everyone knows who is selling training and advertise progress continually.
     
  2. If you are not on the executive dashboard you do not exist.  Do our executives really KNOW the value of education services to the company? Tie what you communicate to strategic goals of the department or the company. Here are some great tips gleaned from fellow members at the conference:

    • CUSTOMIZE your story based on who you are communicating to – what the VP of Sales cares about is very different from what the VP of Support needs to hear.
    • Talk about how you are accelerating time to value. 
    • Get your ROI calculator CERTIFIED by Forrester and use it in the customer success kickoff with clients during the onboarding process.
    • Humanize the numbers – talk to customers – bring back the customer perspective to the story (correlate back to numbers) – put it in terms that relate to customer success. 
    • What is your value prop conversation with the executive team?  Write it up – practice it with one of your execs. 

  3. Create a repeatable, scalable, and defensible curriculum planning process.  Leverage concepts and techniques from the Portfolio Management Discipline.  Consider getting certified by the Project Management Institute in Portfolio Management.   Many of the same principles involved with managing a product portfolio apply to managing a training portfolio.  Allows you to focus on strategically aligned offerings and get buy-in from all stakeholders by involving them in the portfolio planning process using surveys, interviews, and data.  Can be a low-tech process using a tool such as SmartSheet. 

  4. Integrate with all corporate tools (sales automation, marketing automation, etc.) and make sure all of your learning tools are integrated.  Reduce friction whenever possible using Single-Sign On (SSO) – for example should your employees need to have a separate login on to take advantage of your online learning?  Make sure all of the tools you acquire to support your training business use OPEN APIs – these days REST APIs are easier to leverage than in the past.   This puts learning data where it needs to be!  You want the sales team to be able to see which customers are consuming training and which are not.  Marketing automation is also important.  You need the ability to market new offerings to your learners, you need to periodically engage your learners, and for those selling training as a subscription you need to keep consumption of training high in order to earn a renewal.

  5. ALWAYS make Data-Driven Decisions.  This is extremely important for a training business.  You need to use data to show the IMPACT of training on customer and company success.  Gather data, interpret the data, create an action plan based on the data, THEN enact change.  Be careful – correlation is NOT causation.  If your company uses a business intelligence or an Analytics tool – use it.  Get help if you need it from finance or marketing as needed.  If your company doesn’t have an Analytics tool, then consider using online tools to get started – for example IBM Watson Analytics offers a free trial that might be sufficient.

  6. Create a Social Learning Environment!  For example, can you combine your Community, KnowledgeBase/FAQs, and Online Learning sites into a single unified customer facing offering using single-sign on?  From a customer-perspective social learning can happen in the community by interacting with other users of your product.  The KnowledgeBase/FAQs maintained by support are great learning assets and can help answer specific questions a customer has.  And, of course, our eLearning can provide just-in-time learning via micro-learning videos. 

  7. Consider attending the annual Learning Technologies conference in London.   The technologies available to drive your training business success are rapidly evolving – this conference is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the innovation made available by vendors year after year.  Keep up or fall behind! 

  8. The line between Education and (Technical) Marketing continues to blur.  Training is not viewed in the same manner as aggressive sales and marketing tactics are.  Take advantage of that by positioning the value of your company’s solutions to drive sales leads and increase partner leverage.  With careful planning, some education assets can be harvested to create shorter technical marketing videos that set up a problem and present the solution in a very compelling way without the details/how-to steps.  Examples include JDA Software – JDA Minutes, IBM Cloudant Learning Center, and select Black Duck Software YouTube videos.

  9. The primary driver for a Certification program is to validate partner skills.  That said brand recognition and customer satisfaction are also desired outcomes.  Product updates are the #1 driver for updating/revising exams.  It’s important to date stamp credentials so that those considering their currency/relevance have context.

  10. Other than Education Specific YouTube channels and Twitter feeds, most education teams find piggybacking off corporate social channels is the most effective way to reach their audience.  60% of training organizations have their own YouTube channel; 40% have their own twitter feed. 25% or less have LinkedIn, Facebook, or Certified Professional Communities.  A slight majority of training organizations ensure that they are included in the corporate social media strategy.  45% of training organizations drive their OWN social media strategy.

Best,
Pat

CEdMA President
president@cedma.org

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1/26/2017
Subscriptions SIG “Considerations for a move to Subscriptions”

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