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How to Align Customer Education with Business Goals

Written by Julia Borgini

Published on March 2, 2017

Signups, attendance, and webinar views. Those are just some of the traditional data points learning professionals use to measure their training programs. But what about other business KPIs that are impacted by training? These data points reveal the true effectiveness of your training better than any feedback survey. You may recognize some of them from your manager's quarterly reports, but hadn't thought of how training affects it. You may be surprised.

Ways Training Affects Business Results

  • diagram-1.pngFewer customer support calls: Support is expensive, so by providing targeted training that addresses the top reasons customers contact support, you'll notice a drop in support call numbers. Have your support teams share the top reasons customers call in for help and develop (or modify) training accordingly.

  • More subscription renewals (MRR): Subscription-based tech companies live and die by their subscription numbers (or Monthly Renewal Rates [MRRs]), but did you know that well-trained customers renew more often?  GoodData looked at their customer data and discovered that customers who attended training were almost four times as likely to renew than those who didn't. How's that for incentive to expand your training programs?

  • Lower new customer acquisition costs: Acquiring new customers is expensive, so teams who re-use their training programs are able to grow their customer base faster and spend less doing it. Re-purposing training costs less than developing new programs, and is still an effective way to attract new customers (not to mention upsell existing ones, but more on that later).

  • Shorter sales cycle: Pair customer feedback and reviews with comments from prospects and leads gives you positive and negative product commentary flowing more freely between teams (sales, marketing, and no training). This leads to more focused training development, which reduces the overall sales cycle because you're able to address any sales objections before they're raised.

  • Increased revenue growth from existing customers: Generally speaking, tech companies have many opportunities to up- and cross- sell their customers. Since well-trained customers have higher renewal rates, that means they're more inclined to purchase additional products from you as well.

How Can You Align Training with Business Goals?

target.pngCompanies that have incorporated training into their customer success strategies have seen a bigger payoff in their bottom line (just like GoodData did.) Collaboration and communication with teams directly involved in customer success (like sales, customer services, professional services, and marketing) are only the start.

Training managers are starting to view their teams and work as an investment center for the company, rather than a strict revenue center. Yes, it can generate revenue for the company, however that's not all it does, as we saw previously. Training can have a much larger impact on the company's bottom line and so must be involved in more than just post-sales strategy sessions. This is why being involved in customer success strategies is important. It helps change the perspective of training managers and encourages them to be more involved in business planning and outcomes.

Here are a few activities for training managers to take a proactive approach to business goals and ensure their team is ready to support them.


Discover Your Company's Business Goals

Sounds like a basic step, but it's important, especially if the company doesn't publicize them beyond upper management teams. Training leaders must work with their leadership to get this information on a regular basis. That may mean attending town halls, reading the company intranet, and asking questions to their leaders asking for information or clarification.

Leadership Teams Must Communicate Business Goals to All Employees Too

I know I used to gripe about having to attend the quarterly town hall for one of my previous employers, but they were useful to see where we were going as a company. It helped me understand how my work could potentially affect the business goals the leadership team was targeting and got me thinking about how those goals translated into my team's work too.

Training teams have a direct effect on revenue streams, so hearing about these kinds of targets help them put a value on their work, making them more invested in it and create a more positive work environment.

Translate Business Goals into Language Trainers Understand

"We're going to increase corporate value by 200%" is a vague goal, so training teams should understand how that applies to them. Does it mean they should be more efficient in their development work, sell more programs, or something else entirely? This translation makes it easier for the training team to create roadmaps that align with the business goals. 

Collaborate with Department Leaders to Stay Updated

Every department at your company can realize benefits from training and understand why it should be a collaborative effort. Set up regular meetings with department leaders to explain how training helps each department with their own activities and achieve their specific goals, and how this collaboration strengthens employee loyalty and create a positive work atmosphere because of the chemistry of enthusiasm

Especially the Sales Team

In particular, training leaders should collaborate closely with sales to better understand how training affects sales (and vice versa).

  • Set regular meetings with sales to find out what their goals are and how you can support them. Is it with updated training programs or brand new programs to support a new product that's being launched next quarter?

  • Conversely, ask sales for their top customer objections and then design training to solve them. Make it easier for them to close sales (and thereby increase their numbers and the company's revenue.)

As a training leader, you want to set your team up for success as best you can. Getting involved in your company's customer success strategies and taking a more proactive approach to aligning your work with your company's business goals are two of the ways to do that. Have you been taking a closer look at this alignment in your training organization? How has it been going? Share your experiences in the comments; we'd love to hear your experiences.

Originally published Mar 2, 2017 1:15:54 AM, updated Mar 2, 2017