Making the Pitch: Selling Your Executives on Virtual Learning (Part 2)

April 26, 2016 10:00 by Dana Peters

As we reviewed in Part 1 of this post, more and more companies are turning to virtual instructor-led training (vILT) programs to support their skill development needs and competency attainment goals.

We know that gaining executive level support is crucial for vILT programs to be successful. In order to do so, learning and development professionals need to put on their sales hats and move beyond the day-to-day mechanics of how a vILT program works to communicate the big picture value. Success lies in positioning. What business need does vILT address? If leaders don’t see relevant benefits, they will not be on board.

In the five-step sales process we outlined in Part 1 of this blog; steps 2 and 3 require the seller to identify the needs of their buyer and then present a solution that solves the immediate business need. In essence, we are the sellers, our decision maker is the buyer, and our solution is our product so it makes sense to consider a sale process as we determine how to win this support.

So what are some common needs vILT addresses?

In our work, we have watched our clients leverage vILT to address a multitude of challenges they are facing.

We’ve outlined several of those challenges below, and discussed how vILT can solve the problem. Our hope is, that if you, and your executive, are dealing with the same or similar challenges this post may shed some insight on how to frame your sales pitch.

Challenge: Budget Cuts

Despite all the research and documentation telling us not to; in a down economy or a struggling market, training and development is, unfortunately, one of the first things to be trimmed back. Companies may eliminate some programs all together to save money, or may implement a company-wide travel ban which restricts employees and trainers from traveling to conduct or attend company training.

A virtual instructor-led training program can provide an opportunity for companies to reduce expenses while maintaining or even exceeding their learning and development goals.

When budgeting hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel expenses in order for employees and trainers to attend or deliver training sessions is not practical, making a modest investment in vILT to connect training facilitators and learners virtually is a solution to consider.

When proposing that vILT will solve a budget challenge, make sure you go into that conversation with some solid numbers. Any executive is going to want to know how much savings is estimated and how you arrived at your number.

Challenge: Bridging Geographic Gaps Between Departments and Regions

As covered in Part 1 of this post, business is done on a global scale today. More and more companies are turning to vILT programs to effectively manage globally disbursed employees, and develop a consistent culture and message across departments and divisions in different geographic locations.

Virtual training sessions allow participants and facilitators to connect from anywhere there’s an Internet connection – allowing for more opportunities for collaboration and exposure to expertise and insight from colleagues across the globe.

When addressing how vILT will bridge different segments of employees and help break down silos, it is important to help executives envision the potential impact. Compare the exposure people in the organization have with today’s learning and development strategy in comparison to what they will have with a robust vILT program.

Challenge: Reaching Segments of the Population at a Deeper Level

This challenge is related to the last one. In geographically dispersed organizations in which there are smaller pockets of employees in more remote locations, it is often times challenging to get them the same learning opportunities as your larger populations. Whether the issue be distance, facilities, or adequate employee coverage while folks are in training, virtual instructor-led training can eliminate or at least reduce some of these obstacles – thus allowing the expansion of your learning offering to these hard to reach segments.

When proposing how vILT can effectively reach these segments of the population we suggest supporting this value with data. The comparison of today’s approach to vILT enabled training should demonstrate the power of the solution to combat this challenge.

Challenge: The Need for Fast Delivery of More Information

Virtual training programs offer an air of convenience for learners and facilitators. A virtual learning environment can quickly and visually connect employees from all over the globe, and do it in a personal way.

The speed of delivery provides the opportunity to be more productive by utilizing less time.

Travel time eats into productivity. With virtual sessions, learners can reserve a couple of hours during the day to complete the necessary training instead of spending days on the road or a full day in a training session. Time that isn’t spent traveling can be spent working.  

Again, data is on your side when proposing how vILT provides the opportunity to deliver more in less time. Compare time investments of both the learner and the training team with today’s delivery approach in comparison to programs delivered virtually. Another angle on the time savings benefit is to compare how long it takes to deploy a training initiative today, start to finish, vs. a comparable vILT initiative. Many executives live and breathe speed to market. You’ll be speaking their language with this one.

These are just a sampling of the variety of situations where a vILT training program can solve a business challenge.

What are some ways that you’ve gotten executive buy-in for your VILT program? Are there other challenges your vILT program has addressed? We’d love your feedback.


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