No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Extending Training to External Stakeholders


Cross blogged from:

Learning & Development and the Training sector have seen exponential change over recent years. No longer does it exist to simply aid in the development of internal stakeholders, but now many organizations have ingeniously harnessed its potential in helping external stakeholders as well. These organizations, leaders in their own right, have realized that customized training and development initiatives here can be extremely rewarding and help increase revenue and profitability.

External stakeholders in the form of Network Dealerships or Channel Partners are an organization’s representatives who directly interact with customers with respect to product, sales, service or all three. You can easily imagine the importance product knowledge, sales acumen; customer service and sensitivity play in influencing buying behavior at this level.

It is hence imperative that their external stakeholders are aware and adept with

  • The Brand experience and promise:
    External stakeholders must extend the company’s brand experience right from the moment the customer notices the dealership and steps into the store till he exits the store. Recreating the brand experience at the external stakeholder’s end indicates the company’s seriousness about maintaining its high standards of commitment no matter where they are. Dealers must be well equipped to also deliver the brand promise that ensures the customer is happy with his choice. A lot of efforts need to be channelized here to get desired results. Only when the stakeholders understand and live the brand, do they propagate the same level of enthusiasm and commitment of the brand itself.
  • Best practices in Sales performance and Client Relationship building:
    All the feel-good brand experiences are of little consequence if the channel partner is unable to build a healthy client-dealer relationship, make a sale and repeat the cycle at regular intervals. Client relationship building and Sales performance are critical factors enabling the success of a dealership. Luckily these two factors can easily be incorporated into customized templates that can give great results while dealing with customers.
  • Latest products and developments:
    Companies regularly have new product launches and other developments. Dealerships are connected to organizations indirectly, yet they interact with customers and influence their buying decisions directly. If dealers have thorough knowledge of products and updates then customers too are better equipped in making informed decisions. This builds a level of trust with the dealer and hence with the company as well.
  • Answering customer queries and solving their grievances:
    It’s a well-known fact that customers are retained by exceptional customer service. A satisfied customer can refer ten other prospects, whereas a dissatisfied one ensures the world knows of his experience. This makes complaint and grievance handling a very important part of a channel partner’s job.

Needless to say, there are tried and tested methodologies and also a great number of training initiatives that may allow organizations to help their stakeholders. However in our experience, training external stakeholders requires a different perspective of looking at training. The challenges with training external stakeholders in India are very different and need to be addressed accordingly. The following is a generalist view of the challenges with external stakeholders in India -

  • Business Background:
    In India, it is observed that many dealers run the business as a family-owned one and employment of family members over generations is not uncommon. We can imagine that the comfort of such a business may impede an organization’s objectives. Not being directly associated with the organization keeps them aloof of the brand experience and promise they may need to emulate. There is also the fact that most of these dealerships are not exclusive to a single brand and sell competitor brands to maximize sales and profits.
  • Educational background:
    Many external stakeholders are reluctant to get exposed to more knowledge since there is a severe disparity in their levels of education. That’s why organizations find it difficult to persuade them to attend trainings. It is also a challenge to transfer knowledge in a way that caters to all levels.
  • Difference in culture and belief systems:
    Dealers or channel partners may be scattered across regions and may belong to different communities. So it is possible each of them have a different set of values and beliefs. This has an overall impact on learning outcomes covered in the training.

Now that we have identified the challenges, let’s see how we can tweak training interventions to address these challenges.  A great starting point for training development lies with critically analyzing the four phases of training -

  • Training needs analysis:
    While assessing the training need, communication between the organization, external stakeholders and training developer is crucial. A 360 degree view as well as identifying targeted pain areas tends to give a comprehensive understanding that may be built into the training intervention. This is the basis of content design that follows through into great execution. Organizations and training developers ought to be cautious as to not impose their perceptions but tackle problematic realities with empathy and subtlety.
  • Correct treatment of the content:
    After tracking and analyzing the assessment, the task before the organization is to address all the challenges by treating the content correctly.
    • Educational and professional level of the stakeholders:
      The program design should identify with stakeholders having different educational, functional and cultural backgrounds. Simplifying the technical nature of the concepts can transfer the message accurately to people of all levels in a way that can be recalled later.
    • Theme should cater to varied regions in case of a mass roll out:
      Different languages across regions should be taken into consideration. In that case translation of the program into regional languages takes precedence. Themes need to be chosen that can stay consistent irrespective of the region.
    • Methodologies should have a practical and balanced approach:
      It is crucial to keep in mind the practicality of any methodology before suggesting it. The designing stage might develop creative themes but it should be practical enough to be delivered at all regions. Also, a design should not prove more expensive than the expected return on investment.
  • Execution
    • Limited attention span:
      It’s a well-known fact that audiences from any field have limited attention spans. When training external stakeholders are considered, this fact becomes all the more evident. They are not directly connected to the organization. Hence, their interest and levels of participation may not be as high as expected. If the training is not able to hold their attention and proves to   communicate only in one direction, the results will be far from fruitful. Hence, motivational boosters at regular intervals in the form of fun-based activities are essential.
    • Timing of the delivery:
      The timing of the delivery is very crucial as it decides how far the training program will be successful. Since external stakeholders run their own business, it is important to fix a time that suits their convenience. Also, conducting training with regards to the right commercial season is important. The period of Diwali is a good commercial season for painting companies whereas monsoon proves profitable for waterproofing companies. Conducting these trainings a month prior to these periods are a great for better retention and on-field application.
  • Implementation
    • Regular Training Interventions:
      Learners find it difficult to absorb, retain and apply all the knowledge transferred to them in a single training program. Hence, it is essential to conduct trainings on similar or advanced topics to ensure learning retention. Follow-up training interventions at regular intervals help reinforce key objectives crucial for stakeholder roles.
    • Action-plan and Follow-ups:
      It doesn’t end at training! Organizations should ensure application of the learning on field. We believe good training campaigns don’t just end at the feedback form but also extend to relevant action-planning integral to the training. Action-plans catering to the objective can be communicated during the course of the program. Many organizations go the extra mile to ensure accountability of these action-plans with follow-up visits. This enables organizations to gather some information useful for a post-training analysis. It may not be exact, though an approximate ROI could be measured with respect to the initial TNA for the training intervention.

The benefits of training external stakeholders are manifold and ultimately increase the profitability of the organizations. It is little surprise many organizations have already adopted training as viable practice for enhancing stakeholder productivity. Presently, market leaders in the areas of waterproofing, paint, automobiles and auto ancillaries have made good use of training for external stakeholders with visible results.

And we can vouch for it as well :)

No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!