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Selling Training and Getting a Reaction


I'm an IT trainer of a large (400 employees) travel company and my job is to train users on Microsoft and Lotus programs. All new employees receive half a day of IT training when they join, but it's difficult to attract employees to attend further IT training courses. I always receive positive, complimentary feedback from previous training and I’ve tried carrying out IT surgeries, running shorter courses (1 hour), creating tips and manuals on our Intranet, and advertising on PC desktops, but I still have no trainees and I’m running out of ideas …
Charlotte Holloway

11 Responses

  1. Present questions that only you have the answer too
    A half day training may not appear very much to some people, and yet by the sounds of it your staff seem to think it is all they need.
    As an alternative way of thinking you could highlight their lack of experience by introducing an ‘annoying’ element into their computer, that although would not have an undersirable effect on their ability to do their work, it would require them to consult you as to how to remove/rectify it.
    That is the point when you can ‘sell’ the benefits of continued training.

  2. Back to basics
    It looks to me like you are trying to solve the wrong problem by concentrating on ‘recruiting’ trainees.
    Why not find out from your potential audience what they need to know, and how they can best use your skills and knowledge. It might just be that providing reading material on the intranet or some other form of delivery will meet their needs more effectively than formal courses. You can then demonstrate your value as a trainer through results rather than through attendance numbers.

  3. Tell them how lucky they are!
    The title says it all! In spite of the disbelief of those trainers who work in areas where training is an automatic part of the job, most commercial oragnisations provide little or no training for their staff, unless they are compelled to by statute of regulation.

    In the travel industry (my area) an average of less than £300 per person per year is spent on training and most of that is on training required by regulation.

    Your staff are very fortunate to have such a concerned employer!

  4. Seek and ye shall find
    IT, or rather the training of IT, spends a lot of time being an answer looking for a question. Go and look for the question; i.e. go and sit with people whilst they do their everyday jobs, and look for IT solutions to the things that cause them grief. Ask the managers, who, no doubt have reports to file, etc, look for the common things, the repetitive things that people have to do, but by speeding up you can give them back some control in their life. A bit of participant observation can be a very powerful thing; empowering individuals will win you converts, your task then is to turn them into champions.

  5. Arian Associates Ltd
    If they are expected to attend in their own time try to meet them half way and hold regular update sessions as part of their working day as well as expecting them to give up their own time. A little bit of the ‘Scratchy back Syndrom’ might help.

  6. Support from a higher level!
    I’ve been there and know exactly how you feel… Others have covered most of my comments already – find out what they get frustrated with, talk to them in their working environment and watch what is happening as they are working [or not!] etc etc. But I think the best way forward is to enlist the help of their Team Leaders/Managers to encourage them to find the time for ‘short’ courses and explain the benefits. Best of luck!

  7. Sell the benefits
    First you need to be convinced yourself that this training is of benefit to them, then sell them those benefits, then ensure you have a WOW factor so that they will then sell it on to their colleagues. A favourite way of mine to sell the benefits is to ask them a question.
    Hope this helps; do contact me off line if you want some more support.

  8. Make training sexy!

    Here are a few more suggestions:

    Part of the training ethos is to Promote Training. Create a simple logo for training that is included on all brochures, training manuals and emails etc. Sell it! Make your courses enticing. Talk to people. Find out what training materials you can develop to make their jobs easier. Then everyone will associate you with your training materials. You may not be aware that some staff members may not even know that training is a cost free option.

    Also, always convince the top-level management how much money they can save by encouraging staff to become more IT literate. If you have their support, they will encourage their staff to attend sessions. This is not an easy task, but it has amazing results.

    The major trick that I use is to: encourage struggling IT beginners to attend classes. (One to one sessions are a non-threatening environment for people who are scared of technology). For every insightful question or answer given by a trainee, they receive a Cadbury’s chocolate frog (Aust.) or a substitute for diabetics. The trainee has to work very hard to earn the reward. This is a cheap reward system that is included in the training budget!

    Once word gets out around the company that only ‘people who ask clever questions’ receive chocolate frogs, other people start scheduling training. It becomes very competitive, especially when the IT beginners are winning so many chocolates. I train groups of people who are well paid in their profession, who constantly try to impress me with their questions to earn a simple, cheap, chocolate frog!

    Most of the comments that I have read are excellent suggestions. Use lots of different techniques at different times.

    PS Chocolate Frogs work very well for stressed trainers as well!!

  9. ideas to get people to attend IT training
    They key as you so rightly identified is to get the managers to see the benefit to them for their staff to attend. They then will probably target them to attend if you have a reasonable target setting/appraisal system. I have found the best way to convince managers is to make some assumptions and then cost them. e.g. If we assume that x number of people can do y transaction saving z minutes each time how much money does this free up over a year at an average cost of £??.?? per hour assuming an average salary plus 20% on costs. As a manager I also respond to that sort of argument. You then can go on to extol the less tangible benefits. Look at it from the opposite end, if I as a manager have not targeted you to spend your time doing IT training, why are you doing that and not what I HAVE targeted you on. Targeting is not, of course, always formal. Hope this helps.
    Patrick Sullivan

  10. Help them grow their understanding
    How about doing a sort of survey on peoples skill levels. You could rate them beginner, intermediate and advanced. Under each heading you would give information on what people should know at each of these levels. People would then have a better idea of what they do know, what level they are rated and what they could learn at the more advanced stages of a package.
    Maybe there is a lack of interest because they don’t have a good understanding of the potential each of the packages holds?
    Hope this helps.

  11. You can’t SELL benefits
    Find out the needs. Features only deliver Benefit when they NEED them!

    email me direct if you would like a powerpoint from my sessions on teaching HRD people how to “sell” within their organisation.




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