7 keys for spending training dollars wisely
- By Bill Scheessele
- Jan 30, 2012
Several industries experienced a dramatic turn of events in the last few years.
After restructuring, overhauling their product and service offerings, suffering through mergers and acquisitions, and instituting layoffs and early retirement schemes, many companies now want to focus on growth. However, their business development organizations are decimated and their recent BD hires are likely less experienced than is necessary to achieve even modest revenue goals.
Predictably, training and organizational development experienced the budget ax when the crisis first hit. Now, left with a changed business environment, and an inexperienced business development organization, companies react with the typical solution: Throw some training at the problem.
But how do you know if training your organization will result in the revenue growth you require? Investments in education and professional development seldom prove successful in creating desired change if the training fails to address specific core issues.
Consider the following points when launching strategic development initiatives with a training partner to maximize time and budget investment:
1. Does your partner understand your technology? Ensure they possess the technical background to understand your products, services, markets and customers. With this experience, they should be able to acquire needed insight into the existing business development culture.
2. Do they know and understand your strategic plans and objectives? Under the constraints of a non-disclosure agreement, require your partner to develop a working knowledge of your plans and objectives. They also should understand whether operational and tactical business development plans exist, how well they are developed and communicated, and how your objectives coincide with your strategic plans.
3. Does your partner understand your business development personnel organization? Require your partner to understand the role of every individual involved in your BD process. Partners also should develop thorough insight into the qualifications and capability of executives who have overall leadership responsibilities for revenue growth, and they must understand plans for the achieving objectives.
4. Have they analyzed your business development operation? Your partner should complete an education and professional development analysis of your organization to understand the expectations and outcomes and to gauge the collective skills, capabilities and shortcomings of all personnel, including leaders, involved in revenue-generating roles.
5. Has your partner completed a review of your business acquisition process? Require an evaluation of your current process to understand how it is used, how it is taught and documented, whether it achieves desired results, and if it can be built upon going forward..
6. Does your training project include upfront evaluation, initial training, and reinforcement? The initiative should include an investment for preliminary analysis, initial education and professional development, and follow-up reinforcement implementation. An effective reinforcement and implementation program requires two years of consistent attention. Management must buy into this two-year commitment and be willing to invest resources accordingly.
7. Will the training investment produce your expected revenue-growth outcome? Organizations determined to create a successful revenue-generating culture through business development process development and implementation should expect to invest 1 percent of gross revenue per year for at least two years. The true measure of success is revenue growth. At a minimum, the end result should be a 10-fold return on revenue invested during the project period.
Don’t just throw some training at a business development problem without considering the broader aspects as outlined in these seven points. These are legitimate criteria required to achieve organizational change needed to reach objectives. Doing anything less is a waste of time and money, and positions your organization behind the revenue growth curve.
Bill Scheessele (firstname.lastname@example.org) is chairman and chief executive officer at MBDi, a business development professional services firm.