How to Be Seen As an Expert by Your Customers

Ten Ways to be Viewed as an Expert in Your Field.

BY: MARK HUNTER| Originally Published on: DEC 22, 2020|CATEGORIES: SALES LEADERSHIPSALES MOTIVATIONSALES PROCESS


Every week, I share new ideas and strategies on how you can be a more effective salesperson. Today, I want to share how you can and should become a subject matter expert to your customers. Hit subscribe so you get all the new videos I release every week. I want you to engage and immerse yourself in this content, so you can be more successful.

I feel like I could be a subject matter expert to you, and you could then be a subject matter expert to your customers, so here are 10 ways to be seen as an expert by your customers:

1. Ten Burning Questions

What do I mean by this? What ten burning questions do your customers most likely need answers to?

If you want to be a subject matter expert, you have to be able to bring answers to their ten burning questions. It takes time. I also want you to write down ten burning questions. What ten burning questions do your customers have? Create answers to them as you also answer their ten burning questions. You’ll see how much that increases your level of knowledge and enables you to share that with them. That takes me to number two…

2. Create Key Lists

One of the things I do each week is put out a video of ten key things that you can do to become a better salesperson. I put these lists out there as a way to be seen as a subject matter expert in sales. You can do the same thing and be seen in the same way. Create key lists.

You’re probably saying that you just can’t share them with your customer. That’s not true. Yes, you can share it with them. Put together a document and then email it to them. Ask if you can share it with them. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they will start to see you in a different light. Also, put it out on LinkedIn, social media, a blog if you have one, whatever it might be. Create a key list so people can understand your expertise.

3. Ask Tough Questions

Subject matter experts are not shy to ask difficult questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the kinds of questions that a lot of people don’t even think about. The customer may respond with “Wow, I hadn’t thought about that.”

Subject matter experts are always willing to ask questions that the customer does not have the answer to nor do they have the answer to, but that’s exactly how they become a subject matter expert. Why? Because those kinds of questions push them, they push them to go further.

4. Share Insights

Pick up a piece of information and share it. I will routinely email or copy. It could be something you just saw in a book or online, in an article or something. Routinely, I try to share information that’s valuable and insightful.

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5. 30 Minutes / Day

Discipline yourself to spend 30 minutes every day learning about your industry, your niche. Learn what you need. Commit to doing this for 30 minutes each day, and in six months, you’ll be a subject matter expert. This will give you a deep dive into your industry consistently. Now, you’re not going to know everything. However, you’ll know more than 95% percent than everyone else.

6. SME Peers

Surround yourself with people that are also subject matter experts. Spend time with those that are experts in their field, in a variety of topics/subjects. Personally, I have certain people that I call when I need help on this or this, in this industry or that. I nurture these people, but I know who these people are, so I can call them. This allows me to expand my knowledge base to help me better serve my customers.

7. Multiple Contacts

Well, this takes SME contacts and blows it wide open. Not only do you want to associate with more subject matter experts, but you want to know as many people as possible. The more people who know you, the more people will call you. The more people call you, the more you’re able to share your insights. The more insights you share, the more you’ll be seen as a sales expert – knowing how it all works.

It doesn’t do you any good to be a subject matter expert who shares with no one. You always want to have multiple contacts. With every customer I work with, I want to have multiple people who I can reach out to. Keep in mind that not every customer will have the same number of multiple contacts, though.

In a short time, you can be seen as a subject matter expert when you talk to so many different people in a variety of areas. I can’t tell you the number of times when I’ve lost out on business because I didn’t do that. I also can tell you the numerous times I have gained business because I have done that.

8. Industry Associations

Are you involved with them? Are you connected? Do you even know what industry associations are? Industry associations are all involved, all designed around expertise. If you want to be an expert in your field, you need to engage with these groups. Now, your schedule and time might not allow you to become super engaged, but you should still know what they’re doing. Be an active contributor. Be a helper. Subject matter experts are those who give rather than get.  

9. Social Media

So, are you sharing your insights on LinkedIn? Are you sharing insights on various blog posts? I know a gentleman known without a doubt as a subject matter expert. He has five sights that he regularly goes out to. One of them is LinkedIn and the other four are industry sites. He focuses on them, and that allows him to be seen as a subject matter expert.

Subject matter experts are not worlded matter experts. They are very tight on one subject and the people that deal with that subject on a regular basis.

10. Universities

These come into play very simply. Your stature, your level increases dramatically when you can say that you have shared with this class or helped this professor. Look for various institutions – I can think of four or five right now that I am engaged with on a daily basis. I thoroughly enjoy working with them and it helps raise my stature as a subject matter expert.

There you go! Those are the ten things you can do now to work towards becoming a subject matter expert. I hope I’m seen by you as a subject matter expert. That is why I wrote the books, High-Profit Prospecting and A Mind for Sales. Pick up a copy of both today.

There is also an interesting article regarding being an expert in your field. Please go to =>7 Steps to Becoming an Expert in Your Field (entrepreneur.com)

Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog.  Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.


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Why Are Sales People Needed In A Pandemic?

Are Salespeople Needed In a Pandemic?

BY: MARK HUNTER PUBLISHED ON: SEP 23, 2020|CATEGORIES: SALES MINDSETSALES MOTIVATIONSALES PROCESS1 COMMENT


 

Are salespeople even needed right now during pandemic? There are lots of businesses out there with a lot of salespeople saying that they’re not needed. Many companies are saying they are just going to take whatever business rolls into them, because right now during a pandemic, they can’t afford salespeople. Let me tell you something: you can’t afford to not have salespeople. Period.

I’m going to walk you through 10 reasons to help answer this question: are salespeople needed in a pandemic? But first, I hope you take a moment to hit subscribe, so you can watch the new video I post every week. Each video is on a critical topic that’s pertinent to the world we live in right now during a pandemic.

Salespeople are needed more than ever right now. The customer doesn’t know what they don’t know, so it’s your job as the salesperson, part of the sales team, to help them.

1. R&D Department

You are your customer’s research and development source. It’s your job to provide your customers with ideas. You are their department to research and develop in order to help them develop solutions. You have to be seen as operating in that area of expertise.

If you’re not bringing research and development insights to your customers, you’re not doing your job. All you’re doing is acting as a rain barrel collecting the business that comes in. Your job is to incrementally help your customers identify solutions. And that leads me to our next reason…

2. Solutions

Like I stated earlier, customers don’t know what they don’t know; therefore, unless you provide them with solutions, they will just go with what they think they need. The problem is that what they think they need might not even be close to what they really need to reach a solution.

It’s your job to be the critical person that doesn’t just supply them with what they want, but what they really need. That’s the solution.

3. Knowledge

You have more knowledge and more expertise regarding what you sell and how you help customers then your customers will ever have. I will continue to remind you that the customer doesn’t know what they don’t know. It’s true. The only way you counteract that fact is by bringing them more knowledge each time you meet with a customer.

Ask yourself what you can do with the customer today to help them become more informed. How can you share your knowledge with them?

4. Morale Builder

You might think this one is little bit weird. No, it’s not. Customers are more confused than ever. It’s strange times out there. Your objective is to be the optimist. Be the one to help them get through the uncertainty and struggles.

You are the morale builder to each of your customers. Oh, and by the way, as a salesperson in a company, you’re also the morale builder to the employees within the company, because you get to interface with every side out there. You get to see everything.

5. Networking Agent

This is different than just networking. Again, it’s your objective to help customers. This might relate to what you sell, but it might also relate to connecting with somebody else. Connecting people is helping people.

You are an agent to your network. When you do that, you increase the value that you bring to other people which will undoubtedly increase the value that you receive from other people. It works both ways.

6. Problem Solver

Go back to what we’ve been talking about again and again: customers don’t know what they don’t know. In addition, they often have a problem that they’re stuck on. Because of your knowledge, solutions, the research and development work you’ve done, you’re able to help them solve their problems.

Think about the times that you’ve been able to help customers overcome a challenge that they’ve been stuck on for a long time. It’s incredible when you’re suddenly able to provide a much-needed solution. Right now, that’s the value of why you need to be in sales and why as an organization, you have to have a sales team.

7. Economic Force

Is this some sort of macro solution to the global economy? No. You’re an economic force to your customers, because you’re helping them do whatever it is that they need to do more efficiently. This goes for B2B or B2C. This allows the customer to get onto their next thing, their next solution, and the next idea. You are helping them become more efficient. When we become more efficient, we become an economic growth machine.

Economic force has to do with our customers, but it also has to do with what we’re all doing internally. We’re helping. We’re helping our employees remain employed. We’re helping those vendors who sell to us stay in business. We are truly an economic force; sales is what will drive the economy back.

8. Customer Insights

This is incredibly valuable. As you talk with customers, you learn things, and this is what customers are looking for. This is really what they want. In turn, learning will help you too bringing ideas about how you can better help customers. It’ll provide ideas that you can share with others in your supply chain and vendors. What you learn can also be shared with other people within your own company.

Customer insights bring vital information. When I said research and development early on, I was looking from an external standpoint. Customer insights, on the other hand, is internal. You are the one who gets to take in all of this information.

9. Job Creator

You know that the more successful you are, the more stable your job is. Guess what that means? You are creating your job, but you’re also creating jobs for the people you’re helping.

Let’s go back to every other piece that I’ve been talking about here. You are helping businesses stay employed. Every day I meet with companies and my whole objective is to leave them in a better state, so they can create more jobs. That’s your goal too.

By the way, the job creator role that you play is also internal within your own company because remember, if you and sales weren’t out doing what you’re doing, other people in your company / supply chain wouldn’t have a job.

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10. Business Counselor

You must take this one very seriously.

Right now, because of all the confusion and chaos out there, it’s your duty to be the voice of reason and normalcy. You are the one who can listen and just share ideas. What you share may go way beyond anything that you sell or the industry that you work in. That’s the business counselor’s job, because at the end of the day, we are talking about B2B business to business and B2C business to consumer.

However, it’s also H.H., human-to-human. In that regard, you’re a business counselor and a human counselor. In a pandemic, salespeople are needed now more than ever. I can’t stress this enough. It’s one of the reasons I wrote the book, A Mind for Sales. I firmly believe that when you have a mind for sales, it’s amazing how you’ll power through every situation that comes your way.

Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog.  Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.


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How To Utilize Data To Inform Your Sales Process

The Four Ways That Data Can Be Utilized To Inform Your Sales Process

By Dave Mattson | August 28, 2020


For as long as there have been salespeople, there has been data to analyze about the process they use to bring in business. The only issue has been how effective leaders are at drawing conclusions from that data.

All too often, companies don’t make effective use of the information available to them from their sales teams. They fail to generate the most relevant data points… or they focus on information that is familiar to them but less than meaningful. These common mistakes result in, among other things, the dreaded “garbage in, garbage out” sales forecast. So: How can you as a sales leader use data to support both the organization and the sales team? Here are four questions that will help you to do just that.

Question One: Do you have a sales process? This may sound like an obvious requirement, but most organizations we work with do not have a sales process! If you start breaking down data without a systematic process in place for generating sales, the data you come up with isn’t going to do you a lot of good. Note that a sales process gives people the steps they need to follow, from start to finish, to create revenue for your organization. Every company has a slightly different process; you can think of the data generated by the various steps of your sales process as being like an MRI. When it’s done properly, that kind of comprehensive scan is going to tell you what you need to know about the internal workings of your sales team. But to be useful, the analysis must line up with a functioning sales process!

Question Two: Have you identified your expectations? What are your expectations for each of the phases of your sales process? Break the process into its constituent parts: lead development, also known as prospecting; qualification; and then fulfillment and servicing the account. These three phases can also be understood, in the enterprise world, as landexpand, and renew. So. What are the specific outcomes you want to see within each of those three areas? What are the behaviors that make those outcomes possible? What are the departmental benchmarks – meaning what are your time-bound goals for behaviors that will land new business, expand existing business, and renew relationships with your best customers? Once you know that, you can break it down. What are the team benchmarks? What are the individual benchmarks? Set specific expectations. Hopefully, you’ve overlaid some competitive information, and you are meeting or exceeding the relevant industry benchmarks as you work with your team to identify the right goals. Once you have set the expectations, you will have something to compare the relevant real-world data to. (See Question Three.)

Question Three: Are you measuring the right stuff? Get meaningful data. Specifically, make sure you are getting data that connects to a specific step of your sales process. Make sure you are using your CRM system as a source of actionable business intelligence… not as a demonstration of compliance on the part of your salespeople. Make sure you are tracking leading indicators (activities that predictably generate revenue, such as having an initial voice-to-voice conversation with a decision maker) not just lagging indicators (activities that connect to revenue that has already been generated, such as filing a signed contract). Often, leaders spend too much time on lagging indicators and not enough in leading indicators. Identify the leading indicators that spotlight the effectiveness of a particular step of your sales process (such as the number of times a salesperson begins a discussion about the budget). Use that data to strategize improvement. What specific tools, resources, and behaviors will help everyone ensure the needle is moving in the right direction? How will you share the data in a way that inspires salespeople to monitor – and control – their own behavior?

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Question Four: Are you looking at a problem… or a symptom? This is perhaps the most important question of all. Is the data you’re examining pointing you toward an actual problem, or is it identifying the inevitable result of some underlying issue that you haven’t yet addressed? Sometimes, what seems obvious about a sales team’s needs isn’t obvious at all. Let me give you an example: Often, companies will look at their presentation-to-close ratio, realize that it’s low, and then self-diagnose based on that. They’ll say to themselves, “Okay, we need some help; we need to get better at delivering our presentations.” They think that’s the right response to what the data is telling them. But time after time, we find that’s not the problem.  When we do some digging, what we generally uncover is that they have a poor qualification process. The majority of those people they’re presenting to, they shouldn’t have been presenting to in the first place. They had no opportunity to win. Remember: There is a time to step back and get some help in assessing what the data is really telling you.

New technologies in CRM, in artificial intelligence, voice intelligence, and in any number of other areas are giving us all access to much deeper analyses than we could have made just a few years ago. As sales leaders, we can get the right data up on the dashboard… we can use that data intelligently… and as a result of what we learn, we can do a better and better job of leading our teams and our organizations in the direction they need to go. That starts with asking ourselves the four questions I’ve shared here – so we can avoid the all-too-common mistake of trying to land the plane without an instrument panel!

Interested in learning more about how you can utilize technology and data to inform your organization’s sales process? Learn why Sandler partnered with Gong to bring a measurable, data-driven approach to sales learning programs.

 


 

How To Create Everlasting Motivation To Achieve Your Goals

What most people don’t know is that motivation comes to you when you’re doing the work.

Published 23 hours ago

on Sep 3, 2020

By Anthony Nebel


If you’d like to learn how to consistently motivate yourself so you can achieve any goal you want, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of Addicted2Success.com, Joel Brown.


People are always waiting for motivation to strike them before they start working on their goals. However, waiting for motivation to come to you before you start working is an unreliable method if you want to consistently work on achieving your goals.

What most people don’t know is that motivation comes to you when you’re doing the work. The more time you spend working on your goals and achieving progress, the more motivation you get which helps bring momentum to progress even faster.

In this small guide, I am going to show you how to create a reliable stream of motivation to achieve any goals that you want:

1. Create Small Mini-Goals For Your Larger Goals

People argue whether you should create small goals or big goals for your motivation but the real secret is to have both of them.

Here’s why:

  • You want goals and dreams big enough so that it makes you get excited to work for the bigger picture
  • You want small goals for your big goals to show proof that you are making progress

In other words, you need to have goals that get you excited and goals that show you’re making progress. When you have goals that show you are making progress, it shows that whatever actions you are doing is not in vain and that you are one step closer to that exciting big dream.

There’s a problem if you’re missing on just one of these because, if you only have big goals, you are going to lose motivation when you see no progress in 3 months. Same for the opposite, if you only have small goals, you aren’t going to be excited enough to keep working on them.

Define your biggest goal that you want and create mini-goals for that big goal to show you are slowly but surely making progress.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso

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Motivation comes from seeing progress and results from working through a period of time. This means that when you are working on your goals, you want to journal and measure how far you have gone: Daily, Weekly, Monthly and yearly.

The funny part is that you won’t feel a difference whether it’s been 3 months or 1 year. You are just going to feel normal. It’s when you see physical proof that you have evolved based on your past ideas and progress that you can see you transformed into another person.

That’s why I want you to keep a journal and record the most important metrics of the goal you are working on.

For example, if you are trying to lose weight you want to record:

  • How much you weigh each week
  • How many calories you are eating
  • What types of food you are eating
  • How many times you exercise per week

Having data allows you to see what works and what doesn’t work and gives you the opportunity to make changes to see the results you want. When you start to see the results you want happening slowly over time, this will make you much more excited to be consistent to reach your goals. 

3. Celebrate Your Small Successes

A lot of us who are tracking our progress in achieving our goals don’t take the time to celebrate our little wins. It’s the small building blocks that build the foundation to achieve our goals.

When you take the time to reflect on how far you have come and start celebrating your little wins, you are putting yourself in a positive framework where you reward yourself for doing something that you want.

This is a powerful tool in making sure you continue to stay persistent in your goals as you celebrate your small wins which eventually lead to your big win.

Here are some ways to celebrate your small wins:

  • Eat out with the family
  • Take time to watch Netflix
  • Do a hobby you enjoy

The key point is to do the above in moderation. You want to reward yourself in such a way that it doesn’t become a habit. That’s when rewards become even more powerful as a tool for increasing your motivation.

“Small successes are still successes; great failures are still failures.” – Mason Cooley

4. Find Your Inner “Why”

There’s a reason why a lot of people who have New Year’s resolutions suddenly quit on their goals. People are excited to have their own business making a lot of money, their ideal body, and the relationship of their dreams. But when it comes down to trying to change themselves, most of them quit within a couple of weeks.

This is because they realize that the pain of trying to change is greater than the pleasure of staying in their comfort zone. You need to delve deep in yourself and find your inner “why.” Why do you want to change so badly?

You need to start asking this question whenever you are trying to change one of your habits. Things will get tough as it’s hard staying consistent in doing the right thing every day.

Here are some more questions you need to find and answer when things get hard:

  • Are you unsatisfied with where you are now?
  • Are you willing to make some sacrifices for the goals you want?
  • Are you willing to change your habits and understand it takes time?

You want to answer these questions honestly and figure out how to make it a reality.

Conclusion

Waiting for your “inspirational motivation” is an unreliable way to get started on your work. Rather, true motivation comes from seeing the progress and results when you start working on your goals.

The way to create this true everlasting motivation is to create small and big goals and track your progress in achieving them. You also want to have small celebrations along the way to maintain your motivation and reward yourself. Finally, when things get hard you need to fall back into your inner “why” on the real reason why you want to change.

Which motivational tip did you find most surprising? Let us know in the comments below!

RELATED TOPICS:ACHIEVE YOUR GOALSCHANGE FOR THE BETTERCHANGE YOUR LIFEGOALSHOW TO GET POSITIVE RESULTSHOW TO SET GOALSMEASURE YOUR PROGRESSMOTIVATE YOURSELFSETTING GOALSWHATS YOUR WHYDON’T MISS8 Things You Can Do Right Now to Get Your Motivation Back

Anthony Nebel

Anthony Nebel is a freelance writer who is obsessed with self-development. He has tried everything from meditating, journaling, fasting, and writes about it all on his blog, AnthonyNebel.com, on his personal transformation as well as marketing hacks you can use for your business.


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How To Learn About Entrepreneurship From Colonel Sanders

The 7 Inspiring Lessons Colonel Sanders Can Teach Us About Entrepreneurship

Published 2 days ago

on Aug 30, 2020

By Graham Chapman


Colonel Sanders was rejected exactly 1009 times before he was able to sell his KFC recipe successfully. In addition to this, he failed at every job he even turned his hand to during his life. After a lifetime of facing failure after failure, he finally sold KFC at the ripe old age of 75.

In this blog, we’ll be covering seven of the inspiring lessons that the Colonel’s entrepreneurial journey can teach us, and whether you’re 25 or 75 years old, there’s something here for any budding entrepreneur.

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Lesson #1: Failure Breeds Success

As I mentioned, the Colonel was rejected over a thousand times before he was successfully able to sell his Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe – that’s a lot of rejection. Not only that, but Sanders failed miserably at every other career he ever attempted. Between the ages of ten and forty, Sanders tried his hand at the following, among other things:

  • Streetcar conducting
  • Farming
  • Law
  • Sales
  • Fire fighting

This just goes to show that no matter how much you experience failure, there’s still time, no matter how old you are, which brings us neatly onto our next lesson.

“I’ve only had two rules. Do all you can and do it the best you can. It’s the only way you ever get that feeling of accomplishing something.” – Colonel Sanders

Lesson #2: It’s Never Too Late

When Colonel Sanders was 75, he finally sold KFC for $2 million (roughly $15 million today). Can you imagine experiencing such a win, after a lifetime of losing? I’ve met people during my career who think they’re over the hill by the time they’re in their thirties! Yet the Colonel ploughed on in the face of adversity and ended up as the founder and face of a brand we’re still so familiar with over five decades later. 

Lesson #3: The Past is In the Past

In order to be successful as an entrepreneur, many people simply need to learn that the past is in the past, and it will only define your future chance of success if you allow it to. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve failed, where you’ve come from or what negative things you’ve experienced or done in the past.

Your past doesn’t hold the keys to your future success. The Colonel failed at every career he ever attempted. He even spent much of his life in an unhappy marriage, ending in divorce and had to provide for three children by the time he was nineteen. For most, that’d be enough for them to settle down into an unfulfilling career, but the Colonel pressed on with faith in his own abilities and principles. 

Lesson #4: Giving Up is the Only Way to Fail

Failure is a natural side effect of life; the story of Kentucky Fried Chicken tells us that quitting is the only failure. If you have the same outlook and faith in what you’re trying to do, the possibility of significant success is never off the table. Even when you see the clock is ticking and the days and years are flashing by, there’s no time limit on being a success. Never stop searching for that light at the end of the tunnel.

Lesson #5: A Fresh Start is Sometimes All You Need

It’s clear to us now that cooking was a passion of the Colonel’s, but he didn’t discover his enthusiasm until much later in his life. It’s only through having the courage to fail and start over, again and again, that he was able to discover his real calling. 

When you try to succeed at multiple disciplines, it’s a sure-fire way to burn yourself out. The start is always the hard part, and for most, the idea of doing it over and over again, in their 50s, 60s and 70s would be absolutely exhausting. The energy and passion that the Colonel showed by doing this well into his seventies is an inspiring lesson to any entrepreneur. 

Lesson #6: Take a Leap of Faith

It’s no great shock to learn that following your heart’s desire is often the key to success, happiness and contentment. How is it then, that so many of us won’t chase after what we truly want from life? Sitting back and relaxing into your comfort zone means that many of us don’t realize how vital passion and desire really are. In the end, the pursuit of a passion will make anyone happy, contented and prosperous. 

“One has to remember that every failure can be a stepping stone to something better.” – Colonel Sanders

Lesson #7: Keep it Simple

It seems crazy to say it, but Kentucky Fried Chicken started by selling chicken on the side of the road. After selling his recipe, the business grew rapidly, and these days it’s commonplace to see KFC franchises in countries all over the world – 145 to be exact. The lesson here is never to be afraid of keeping things simple. So long as you’re willing to start, work hard and keep at it, things will grow. 

It’s often the case that would-be entrepreneurs will put off starting their venture, launching their website or whatever it might be because they simply don’t believe they are big enough to make a start.

 RELATED TOPICS: COLONEL SANDERSENTREPRENEURSHIPEXPERIENCING FAILUREFAILUREHOW TO OVERCOME FAILUREKFCPERSEVERANCERISKSUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURSTAKING RISKSDON’T MISSWomen Trailblazers: The Most Successful Female Founder in Every Country

Graham Chapman

Graham Chapman is a sustainable product and business expert and owner of powerguard.co.uk.


The 4 Ways of How to Build a Learning Culture While Your Workforce is Remote

 

Mandating a three-hour webinar training is no longer going to cut it.

BY MARCEL SCHWANTES, FOUNDER AND CHIEF HUMAN OFFICER, LEADERSHIP FROM THE CORE@MARCELSCHWANTES


4 Ways to Build a Learning Culture While Your Workforce Is Remote

As business leaders and individuals grapple with the staggering impact of Covid-19 one thing has become undoubtedly clear. In order for leaders to foster organizational resilience and weather the post-pandemic storm, they must prioritize the learning and development of their workforce.

I don’t mean mandated Zoom presentations in which employees multitask on the side. What I mean is flexible, passion-driven learning where employees learn what they want, when they want and on their own terms.

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Shelley Osborne, VP of Learning at Udemy, offers a much-needed revision to corporate training in her new book: The Upskilling Imperative: 5 Ways to Make Learning Core to the Way We Work. In it, Osborne challenges traditional, one-size-fits-all approaches to training that are no longer relevant to modern workers–let alone those working remotely.

Shelley recommends the following to help leaders develop an effective and sustainable learning culture–with an eye toward continuous employee growth and long-term business success during (and beyond) Covid-19.

Demonstrate how learning drives business success

“When beginning to build their learning culture, leaders must consider that employees need to understand how their learning impacts business outcomes,” says Osborne.

As businesses continue to operate with limited staff or reduced capacity, it’s critical for employees to stretch their skill sets further and fill tasks and roles they wouldn’t normally. Individuals are more likely to learn and seek out learning when they understand the role it plays in overall business success.

“Leaders can signal the value of learning throughout the organization by setting aside their own time for it and sharing with their teams and the broader organization what they’re learning,” she says. “This makes it clear to employees that learning at work is not only accepted, it’s encouraged.”

Let your employees define flexibility for continuous improvement

Harnessing the power of learning isn’t as simple as rolling out more training modules or sending people to a slew of workshops.

Employees require more flexibility today than ever before, and that is especially true when it comes to learning. Due to Covid-19, parents are working double duty as busy professionals and homeschool teachers, while other employees navigate the nuances of working remotely with roommates. Bottom line: mandating a three-hour webinar training is no longer going to cut it.

Building a sustainable learning culture means giving employees time and space to learn where and when they want. Doing so will encourage them to seek out new learning opportunities independently and allow for psychological safety and the ability to learn.

“One of the greatest leadership lessons I’ve learned is that we must recognize we aren’t perfect and there is always room to learn and grow,” says Osborne. “When you have teams and businesses that provide flexibility for growth and development, we can all continuously improve.”

Focus on change agility

We need to do more to lay the groundwork for unexpected change. However, this preparedness can’t be exclusive to pandemics and recessions. We must understand and accept that change is constant, necessary, and beneficial for surviving and thriving in today’s workplace.

Osborne refers to this type of adaptability as “change agility”–seeing change as an ongoing opportunity, not as a threat or liability. And at the center of change agility is continuous learning.

“Grounding a company’s culture in learning is the surest way to navigate through change,” says Osborne. “A strong learning culture empowers employees to upskill themselves in the face of change, continually grow and adapt to new challenges.”

Continuous learning & Covid-19

If there is one message Osborne would like readers to take away from her book, it’s that learning programs must evolve with the times. Traditional approaches to training (a la overhead projector and chalkboards) were built for a world we don’t live in anymore. What’s more, they aren’t engaging for today’s workers who are accustomed to consuming digital content on their own terms. This was true before the pandemic and it’s undeniable now.

Beyond modernizing the learning experience at work–companies need to transform at every level into learning-driven organizations, where working and learning are inextricably linked.

As companies continue to navigate this new environment, Osborne is optimistic that the fundamental shift toward flexible, accessible online learning is here to stay. AUG 29, 2020. Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you’ll never miss a post. The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.


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