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Custom Program Design

Employees in every organization need training in some areas that are truly unique to their company. Product training, for example, because every company has its own products. Or policies and procedures that only apply to your market or industry.

Think Training excels in the design and development of turnkey programs to address such specialized needs... programs that go far beyond the standard training fare of our competitors. To give you an idea of the broad range of our capabilities, here are a few examples of the unique training challenges we've successfully helped our best clients meet. In each case, we've solved similar problems for many clients, and we're ready to do the same for you.

Helping Sales Representatives Successfully Implement A New Strategic Direction.

Challenge: Like all major auto manufacturers, our client's franchise agreements legally require dealers to achieve at least a threshold market penetration in their market area (MSR). Dealers who failed to meet the MSR standard could lose their franchise. In the early 90's, the company stopped conducting annual MSR reviews in order to help dealers concentrate on customer satisfaction and profitability. But when fast-selling models like SUVs and Minivans began to overshadow the rest of the company's line, they reinstated MSR reviews in order to spur more balanced sales of the entire line. Dealers disliked the new policy and began to raise strong objections with their District Managers (DMs). As a result, the DMs urgently needed strategies and skills for convincing dealers that the MSR process was in the dealers' interest as well as the company's.

Solution: Think Training researched and developed a one-day, video-based program that taught DMs how to interpret and present the MSR data for each dealer as well as how to handle the most difficult objections dealers were raising. We then trained the client's sales managers to deliver the program. The program's success turned what could have become a major blow to company-dealer relations into the basis for a stronger partnership than ever.

Preparing Line Managers to Handle Critical Human Resource Functions.

Challenge: Due to a reorganization, our client, a major insurance company with operations throughout the United States and Canada, urgently needed to eliminate a 500-person field-based organization of HR generalists. For years, these staff had handled the full range of HR functions, including job advertising, interviewing and selection, salary planning, implementing corporate policies and handling grievances. Now, these responsibilities would have to be taken up by line managers who weren't familiar with the legal and technical pitfalls and who already carried a full workload. Realizing that mistakes in hiring decisions and handling grievances could expose the company to multi-million dollar liabilities, our client asked us to develop six complete programs that would teach line managers and their administrative assistants how to perform the HR generalists' functions on their own. The training would have to be ready for delivery by the client's staff within six weeks.

Solution: In just five weeks, we:
  • consolidated the client's corporate policy manual from over 3000 to just 250 pages;
  • created six interactive, comic-book style manuals;
  • designed classroom training sessions that won the line managers' commitment to taking over the HR functions and helped them partner with administrative staff to handle those functions successfully; and,
  • trained the client's instructors to deliver the programs.

Strengthening Key Account Relationships

Challenge: For years, our client, a major producer of computer components, had grown their business on the strength of sales to select key accounts with whom their sales teams had forged close partnerships. However, growth in a number of these accounts had led to rapid changes among the key contacts who interfaced with the sales teams. The growth in sales also had stretched our client's production capacity, leading to occasional problems with quality or supply. As a result, relationships at many key accounts had suffered strains that, unattended, could threaten future sales growth. The teams needed new skills to help them "re-constitute" and build more successful partnerships with their accounts.

Solution: On the strength of two earlier programs' success, the client asked Think Training to analyze the challenges their sales teams faced and develop a custom training program to help resolve their problems. Instead of a conventional training program, we designed Teaming With the Customer™, a session "for planning, not simply planning to plan." After analyzing an in-depth case study based on an actual experince of one of the client's best account teams, each team:
  • analyzed their own account's expectations and preferred business relationship;
  • identified "terms of engagement" they could negotiate with their account; and,
  • developed specific plans for implementing their strategy, including the specific steps to be taken by each member of the sales team.
As a result of attending this workshop session, several of the client's key account teams successfully transformed their sales relationships.

Interviewing and Selecting the Right People for the Job

Challenge: In the retail brokerage industry, recruiting the right brokers is so vital to overall performance that a significant percentage of a Branch Manager's income and upward mobility depends on his or her ability to find and attract successful new brokers. After studying his most successful peers' approach to this challenge, one of our client's Branch Managers concluded that the best way to increase sales at his branch would be to develop new strategies for identifying, attracting and training broker-candidates who were likely to succeed. After several in-house attempts to develop better interview and selection criteria had no impact, he asked Think Training to help.

Solution: Think Training's team began by helping the Branch study the characteristics and behaviors that set their top brokers apart. Then, armed with new criteria against which candidates could be assessed, we helped the Branch study the local market to identify likely sources of candidates, many of which they had never tapped before. Finally, we developed and delivered a private session on interview techniques for the Branch Manager and his Assistant. Result: the Branch successfully recruited several new brokers whose performance moved the branch into the top rank of the company's branches nationwide. A few months later, the Branch Manager received a major promotion.

Product Training That Goes On-Line and Beyond Mere Product Knowledge to Help Salespeople Sell

Challenge: Like many companies, our client's product training consisted mainly of dry lectures - developed and presented by product engineers and marketing staff - that focused on technical specifications and procedures. Sales staff complained that the programs were too long and didn't teach them what they needed to know in order to sell the company's products.

Solution: Working with our client's subject matter experts, we developed fully-interactive classroom exercises — linked to on-line pre-work - that helped internal trainers focus on what the company's offerings could do for customers and how salespeople could engage likely prospects in intelligent discussions of both the customers' problems and our client's solutions. The efficient self-study courses that served as pre-work helped salespeople take full advantage of product documentation on the company's Intranet.
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