For a person who averages a flight a day, hearing about the Ethiopian flight crash recently and the Lion Air crash a few months back was heart rending. While reading some insightful articles in The New York Times connecting these two events, it has come to light that Boeing expected all pilots worldwide to learn the finer nuances of the 737 Max on an iPad and not through extensive pilot retraining. Think about it – 350 precious lives could have been saved had Boeing not mistaken 737 Max manual availability on the iPad to pilot adoption and competence.
As I sat reflecting on this news article over the weekend, I could not help co-relating the same approach that organizations take to empower their sales professionals. Too often, I have seen organizations leveraging MOOCs (Massively Online Open Courses) and a vast repository of other material in different parts of their intranet as an investment in sales behaviours and competencies. Their belief is that sales professionals and managers would leverage all of this richness and translate it into higher revenue, more wins and greater market share.
However, in my experience of coaching thousands of sales managers and professionals over the years, I have discovered that this online repository is only 20% of the equation. The balance 80% of application comes through their ability to connect the dots between their resources and capabilities and their customers requirements and priorities. It is my belief that this rapid shift from offline training and coaching to online information repositories could be counter-productive, especially in the customer facing roles. Information availability is not necessarily a guarantee for field adoption. Like the Boeing disasters, I am wondering how many millions of sales interactions are conducted at sub-par levels, just because organizations think that information availability on an iPad will address all Field situations.
Like Boeing will no doubt conclude that pilot training/ retraining is essential to getting Boeing 737 Max back on the air, I hope organizations realize that the critical component of Face2Face training/retraining is essential for their sales professionals and managers to meet the ever changing customer demands. Don’t get me wrong – the iPad and the manual is still important like the MOOCs/Online Courses/ Intranet Information; my only submission is that these are not the complete solution but just part of the solution.
My favorite quote is “Simplicity, Synthesis and Sequencing is the essence of experience”. How are you as an organization, simplifying your messages, synthesizing your content and sequencing your learning delivery so that at the end of every customer interaction, the customer says “Wow – this is the most valuable one hour I have had in the past month”. Had Boeing simplified its software capabilities, synthesized the changes with every pilot’s experience and sequenced the role out of these changes, we would have 350 happier lives still with us.
I understand that I have shared some strong points of view in this post and would love to hear from you on your experiences balancing between online content with offline behavioral changes that produces results. Thanks in advance for taking the effort to share.