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Training Consultants & Used Car Salesmen

china business - mr. miguel p. suterio May 25, 2010

All of us at one time have come across a stereotypical Used Car Salesman: fast-talking, hustling, price-diving, and ready to do anything to sell you that broken down, heap of junk, excuse for a car.

In the corporate training world, individuals like this also exist. You could call them Used Course Salesmen.

As many executives retire from the corporate world, many of them find they have a lot of time on their hands. And they need to augment their retirement income with other sources of revenue. The easiest, most risk-free path is to be a ‘Training Consultant.’

However, as opposed to providing true learning and development value to corporate clients, these used course salesmen simply dust off old training modules they’ve accumulated over the years and pass it off as brand new to unwitting clients.

The 20-plus-year-old training courses are converted to PowerPoint templates and voila! Everything old is new again.

This is especially appalling since several factors in today’s corporate and market environments necessitate radically new content. A totally new approach to learning and development is also needed.

The changes in consumer, manufacturer, and trade dynamics, the rapid evolution of media, communication and information technology, the breaking down of international barriers, as well as the Generation Y workforce all dictate the development of a completely new learning design and totally new delivery methods developed for and relevant to the times.

Engaging the services of Used Course Salesmen may appear cheaper at the outset but, in the long run, the damage to the organization that these outdated concepts and methods will cause will cost more to repair in terms of time and money. Examples are opportunity costs, terms of trade costs, trade investment costs, promotional and advertising costs, brand restaging costs, which would remain unchecked because no new skills or ways of working have been built into the organization based on today’s market environment.

Furthermore, organizations will have to retrain course participants since there has been no return on program investment in the first place.

It is imperative for companies to be able to differentiate Used Course Salesmen from an honest to goodnest training organization. Here are some telltale signs.

No Organization – Usually a loose band of corporate retirees who do not have a formal and legitimate organization (no SEC registration, no DTI, no BIR documents, no website, no support organization, etc.) that can support client learning and development needs.

No Real World Major Achievements – Many training providers fall at the extremes of being either too theoretically impractical or too basic and mediocre. Either way, it is not good for a company to be taught skills that cannot be readily applied or skills that celebrate mediocrity.

Too Long Away from the Frontlines – These individuals have been away from the action for far too long. Although they may have had illustrious careers in their heyday, that may have been many decades ago and, as a result, their appreciation of what is happening on the ground nowadays is conceptual at best.

No Industry Specialization –No focus on any specific industry but instead a shotgun approach to whoever will fall for a price-dive training deal. The problem with this is that in trying to appeal to a broad industry base the Used Course Salesman cannot focus on industry specific problems and, therefore, is not able to propose appropriate industry specific solutions as well.

No Discipline Specialization – They will pitch a broad range of disciplines from HR, OD, Sales, Marketing, Logistics, Team-building, etc. In short, a jack of all trades, master of none.

No Track Record/No Repeat Clients – They will have a very patchy track record and very few repeat clients, if any at all. The reason being very simple: Companies who have engaged their services primarily on price get just that, a cheap show and nothing more. And this leads to hardly any repeat performances.

No Tenure as a Training Company – Achieving excellence in the training business does not happen overnight. To be truly excellent in today’s corporate training environment requires a multitude of experiences from several companies in various engagements.

No Affiliations – A measure of how serious a company is in its craft is its affiliations and memberships in several organizations. This allows a training company to keep updated on industry developments and keep abreast of changing times. If a provider has no affiliations or memberships this calls into question how serious the organization is about its craft.

No Integrated Curriculum System – You can tell poor quality training providers by the fact that their portfolio of services are a hodgepodge of different courses from various sources that don’t blend seamlessly with each other. They have no Integrated Curriculum System, where each curriculum element links with and supports the other to create a totally integrated system of learning and development.

Now that your organization can distinguish a Used Course Salesman from a legitimate training provider, the next step is similar to how one deals with Used Car Salesmen; don’t waste your time and deal only with reputable firms.

(China Business Philippines 05/10)