One of the most difficult and frustrating things we do is sell our training concepts to people who don’t have a background in training.
It usually goes something like this: You’re tasked with creating a training program by an internal customer or a client. They believe training is needed, but don’t know what it should look like or how it should work; their knowledge of effective training is based solely on a few experiences they’ve had.
You evaluate the purpose, audience, required outcomes and content, and envision a learning design that takes into account delivery method, instructional approach, learning objectives, assessment methodology, application of learning, reinforcement, follow-up, remediation and many other factors.
You present your idea for the training, but it falls flat because your mental model of what the training will look like and how it will work is based on your deep learning experience. Your client hears you but doesn’t have the experience to share your mental model.
Making a case for donuts
The solution? Take a donut break. Head for the nearest LaMar’s Donuts, Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme or practically any other donut retailer and witness the most effective and obvious technique in effective selling: Show 'em the goods.
Donut shop employees don’t describe each option because the store just lays them out in a glass display case for you to see and salivate. It's an instant shared mental model. And as simple as a donut display case may seem, taking the "show 'em the goods" approach to selling your training ideas can save you time and frustration.
Trying to convince a client that your brilliant idea for a new online course design will be highly effective? Show them. Create a short proof-of-concept learning experience that demonstrates the look, feel, instructional approach and student experience you have in mind.
Have an idea for a new approach to teach a set of skills? Build one of them out, bring in a typical student, and demonstrate the instructional approach to your client. Or create a few pages of that new student manual or a few sample slides for your new facilitator presentation to move the concept out of your head so others can see what you’re thinking.
Not only will this help your client understand your vision, it also will give you a shared vocabulary to discuss that vision and serve to help you test and improve the concept very early in the instructional design process.
As learning experts, we know the power of demonstration. Put that same power to work and bring your training concepts to life. And when you’re ready to show the idea to your client, bringing a box of donuts to share can’t hurt.