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Sally Winter

Video Arts

Head of Marketing

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Staying one page ahead in the manual: training tips for non-SMEs


Many years ago I started my sales career with the “Big Yellow God” of photography, Kodak. My role took me all over the country implementing one-hour photo processing machines and selling paper, chemicals, film, etc. As I spent so much time in the car, I started to exercise my mind with business audio-books (it made me feel better about the abuse my body was getting from three motorway services meals a day).

There were dozens of titles in the mid-90s, all boldly claiming to change your life upon the first listen, and I became quite addicted. Whilst the occasional esoteric title made its way on to my passenger seat (Feel The Fear and Release The Giant Within to name but two), I preferred the more practical training aids around sales and management. For two years I stopped listening to the radio altogether: the phenomenon of the Spice Girls virtually passed me by.

Soon I was implementing techniques with clients that I had heard on the way to my meetings. And they worked: reminding me of good practice just before an event was paying off.  Within a few weeks I had turned evangelist and was running mini-workshops with my colleagues on these training topics.

One of the Godfathers of this type of (sound) bite-sized, self-paced learning was Brian Tracy, who had a major hit with The Psychology of Selling. I had virtually all of Brian’s audio books, and was such a fan that I eventually worked for his organisation in the UK, and was later involved in the distribution of his e-learning materials. Two of Brian’s little homilies from those old tapes still ring true in today’s fast-changing world of learning technologies…

1)      Repetition is the mother of learning

Deep-seated learning (often called Unconscious Competence) does indeed come from a cycle of repetition – reflection – improvement – repetition. For many roles this is not only desirable, it is vital. Nobody would want to knowingly travel with a pilot who has aced all his exams and read all the books but is going to have his first crack at flying a plane on your flight to Ibiza.

However, often it is just not possible to repeat all the skills an employee needs in any one working month. How often do you have to: discipline someone; recruit people; deal with complaints? (If the answer to all of these is “on a daily basis” then you may wish to consider your choice of employer.)

For inexperienced employees there’s often an extra step in the cycle: repetition – reflection – improvement – forget virtually everything – repetition?

Which leads me on to Homilie Number Two…

2)      An expert is someone who is one page ahead of you in the manual

Eventually the inexperienced manager will become proficient at, say, giving that annual appraisal to his or her most difficult employee. The best we can do for them in the interim though, is support them with good training materials when they need them.  In time they will know the manual. They may even write a new one and have it turned into an audio book. In the meantime being one page ahead will help them enormously.

Steve Webster, Head of Sales at Video Arts

Steve Webster is Head of Sales at Video Arts working with key accounts including Canon, British Council and European Commission. Steve brings energy, passion and considerable experience of learning technologies to Video Arts.


Author Profile Picture
Sally Winter

Head of Marketing

Read more from Sally Winter

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