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The Way I See It: Secrets of Training Selection


Lawrence Naman, Editor of The Training Manager’s Yearbook, and Graham Simmons, Online Editor of at AP Information Services present their top tips on how to find the right one.

The sourcing of the correct suppliers and courses has been the key role and also headache since time immemorial for training managers and those with responsibility for the training budget.

Where do you start when looking to source the correct supplier for your needs? How can you be completely sure that the course(s) you select will be right for your organisation’s future growth and staff development?

These are just a couple out of numerous questions that those with responsibility for training must consider.

So let’s take each of the key routes that those with responsibility for the training budget must consider when sourcing a supplier.

Search the internet:
Searching the internet is, without a doubt, one of the most popular methods via which to source suppliers/courses. The simple fact is it’s straightforward to type what you are looking for into the search engine and press the search button.

But is this the right method to search for suppliers or appropriate courses? Using the internet might be the way to search for a basic management course, for example, but even after undertaking such a search on the likes of Google it will take a long time to sift through the 1001 providers of such courses spread throughout the UK to find the correct one for your needs.

Anyway, the highly specific courses suitable for your business needs are unlikely to be clearly listed in the results in an online search via a traditional search engine. The reason is that whilst the likes of Google attempt to index everything in the world, what is obvious is that the more they index, the more difficult it is for the user to find what they are looking for. The Google directory is too broad.

Instead, it’s best that training managers liaise with a leading specialist information provider with many years’ expertise and heritage in providing in-depth information and insight on the industry. Such an information provider should, be able to list free of charge and in a highly digestible format, in-depth training supplier and course information online. This is what those within the training industry want and require.

Industry wide directories?
Trainers should not forget that industry wide print directories are a vital source of information on potential suppliers and courses. It is interesting how we all get excited about the "new" search engines phenomena considering that directories have been the search engine of information for decades.

Specialist paper directories continue to have a strong future, not just for those involved in the training sector, but beyond. Directories with a strong heritage within a particular business sector offering a huge range of up to date, in-depth information on those within it including its suppliers, are still seen as 'bibles’ for the practitioners within that sector.

Many people still reach for directories and keep them next to the phone or on their desks as a vital source of information. The days of a paperless environment, whether at home or in the office aren't with us just yet.

Approach from a salesman?
It’s easy to disregard sales people as those annoying individuals that distract you from your work with phone calls, e-mails, etc, and who stop you in your tracks at industry exhibitions!

However, you need to remember that sales people are not knowingly going to waste your time – as this costs them money. If they have an offering that they think is relevant to you they will contact you. Do spend a little time hearing what they have to say, as it might be something that could be of benefit to your business.

From exhibitions/conferences attended?
Following on from being approached by salespeople, exhibitions and conferences provide the perfect opportunity for those with responsibility for the training budget to have in-depth face to face conversations with potential suppliers.

Such events are an advantageous use of time for both suppliers and potential clients who can meet each other and forge relationships.

Word of mouth?
Personal recommendation is probably one of the best ways to select a supplier with a third party vouching for the competency or success of a particular supplier/course.

It’s important to note that recommendations from other training decision makers within your industry sector on suppliers and courses is key - even if they are your competitors.

Competitors are likely to have the same needs and requirements as you, so you should pick their brains when the opportunity arises. Also it’s worth noting that no reputable supplier will ever betray client confidentiality.

Furthermore, speak to your colleagues, and even those who are to be trained, on who they recommend. Staff will feel valued that they are being listened to, and they may have picked up valuable information on potential suppliers and courses in the course of their roles that you have not.

Is outsourcing always the answer?
Ask yourself before you outsource to a training supplier – do you need to outsource? You should not ask yourself this for the sake of saving money which will result in a job poorly done. Of course not outsourcing can often save money, but you should only handle the required task in-house if you have the time and resources available to carry out a professional job.

Trade press
Always peruse the industry trade press (including TrainingZONE) for opportunities to spot potential suppliers. Don’t only look at who is advertising or placing inserts, but look at who’s in the editorial. If a third party, such as a journalist is able to provide some comment or some positive insight on a business, then they have credibility within the industry. If you like what they have to say bear these companies in mind or get in touch with them.

At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong answer to sourcing a good training supplier that will meet your requirements. But if you take into account all that’s covered here that will set you in good stead.


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