Training Top 100 Hall of Fame Outstanding Training Initiatives (November 2021)

Each year, Training magazine requires all Training Top 100 Hall of Famers to submit an Outstanding Training Initiative that is shared with our readers in a print issue. Here are the details of IBM’s Sell Well Digital Campus and SCC Soft Computer’s Effective Customer Service, Global Deep Dive program.

IBM: SELL WELL DIGITAL CAMPUS

IBM’s Sell Well Digital Campus aims to reimagine how the company sells while aligning to its corporate strategic direction and engaging with clients in this continuing pandemic environment.

Underpinned by the ongoing transformation of IBM’s culture, the learning experience aims to:

  • Help the successful seller build client intimacy based on providing insights into the client and the industry, enable the start and close of the cloud conversation, and offer the know-how to lead the client in different journeys they are undertaking.
  • Support the successful seller to develop deep expertise through technical acumen and the ability to apply these technical insights to the client’s journeys.
  • Create for sellers a culture of confidence through mutual coaching and practicing in a safe environment with managers and peers, and provide access to curated learning and support.

Targeting more than 8,000 sellers in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region, the program was framed around a campus environment that offers a blend of leadership academies, masterclasses, garage hackathons, and a digital seller studio.

Program Details

More than just standard online learning, the Sell Well Digital Campus provided an exchange of experiences, a source of ideas, a motivator, and a supporter, demonstrating the possibilities of showing a multitude of topics in a sustainable and virtual way. It enables a unique learner experience and provides an ongoing journey of skills growth. Elements include:

  • Hackathons via the Digital Lab: Through exercises and practical applications, participants use the IBM Garage Methodology to get hands-on with a selection of Cloud, AI, and design prototyping technologies, and create something that can address a real client or industry challenge of their choosing.
  • Keynote sessions: Through expert engagement, participants develop knowledge and learn how to explain key concepts and practices shared during the specific session.
  • Masterclasses: These virtual workshops of up to 30 in a room and in groups of six cover topics such as: “Motivate Your Team,” “Sell Well in Cloud, “Virtual Selling,” and “Selling in a Recession.” They are designed to provide learners with practical applications and a sandbox environment in which they can hone these skills.
  • Library: Houses knowledge and referential material.
  • Cafeteria: A place to get together and connect.
  • Gymnasium: Office-based exercises to keep participants fit, mini-yoga sessions, trainings on mindfulness.
  • Pinboard: Place to share thoughts, pictures, and stories.
  • Awards/recognition: Everyone has an opportunity to sign up for “the Race,” an opportunity for campus members to join a grand tournament to earn points by participating in IBM’s digital campus activities and fun competitions, and through their contributions.

Results

During 2020, Sell Well was a primary platform for learning for sellers across EMEA. As a result, IBM has seen an overall increase in learning completions (more than 165 percent) with more than 6,000 keynote attendees and 4,000 masterclass learners, driven primarily by the uptick in digital virtual learning offerings (208-plus percent). The impact of focused virtual delivery across populations also resulted in an overall decrease in tuition spend of almost 50 percent, and a reduction in education-related travel and expense, with none since May 2020. By the end of 2020, IBM had benefited from 46 Garage Hackathon projects, some of which have brought immediate benefits to active client engagements.

Sell Well was a key vehicle in relaunching and enabling skills in 2021. It continues to provide insights into the behaviors and preferences of how IBM can realize learning for sellers in the flow of work, maintaining the focus on client skills and the company’s ability to win and succeed in the market.

SCC SOFT COMPUTER: EFFECTIVE CUSTOMER SERVICE, GLOBAL DEEP DIVE

The goal for phase 1 of SCC Soft Computer’s Effective Service, Global Deep Dive program was to improve client interactions through training and development initiatives.

COVID-19 brought unique challenges as all training had to be done remotely. SCC’s clients are reference laboratories whose processes for processing test results often were changing weekly and monthly as COVID policies and emergency procedures in these facilities evolved. SCC’s implementation team not only had to train and bring the clients live on software via the Web, but had to train its own employees to adapt and deal with the constant influx of changes being requested by SCC’s clients due to changes in their workflow. It was paramount to teach employees to keep the “ultimate” customreer in mind: the patient who presents to those facilities that use SCC’s products.

Program Details

SCC took an existing customer service course and added content to widen and deepen the scope— including adding best practices geared toward remote learning and project management. The Training team tested the content with two groups:

  • A group of project managers who run software implementation and upgrade projects
  • A group of implementation specialists

The team asked several managers and a business analyst to sit in on sessions to provide real-time feedback, so much of the content was revised “on the fly” during these first two test groups.

SCC used ispring and SharePoint to develop content. In addition to the training session—which is leader led—the Training team developed a SharePoint page where videos, reference articles, and discussion topics are posted. And it created a “Living Wiki” that features real-world examples of situations provided by session participants. Learners discuss how to handle the described situation using the best practices covered in the training session. This is a “living” document because examples are added continuously. Employees refer to it as their “best practices knowledge base.”

Homework for each self-paced online module is sent out after each bi-weekly session through SCC’s learning management system (LMS) in the form of an online simulation and essay question. The feedback comes to the course facilitator—via e-mail from the LMS with the actual results—and is forwarded to a course “gatekeeper.” From the gatekeeper, it goes to the employee’s managers, so they can keep track of real-time progress.

Post-training, participants receive a two-part survey. The first is for course reaction and quality control. The second part asks learners to assess their personal needs. Upon receipt, the results are shared with the course trainer and with management up to the VP level so the Training team can get employees personalized help and monitor and coach those who are struggling.

Reinforcement includes individual coaching sessions, homework, and personal assessment of the employee’s self-development survey results. Some employees also may be matched up with a mentor.

Results

More than 200 learners have been trained to date. SCC currently is evaluating Level 3 behavior change results in terms of the fail rates of the initial attempt at the simulations, which currently is running at approximately 40 percent. This means that 40 percent of the time, the employee has to take the simulation at least twice to pick the best response to give a client in a similar situation. Several of the possible responses are very close (a better response and the best response), so employees are learning how changing one or two words can make a difference in how the client might respond.

Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine, owned by Lakewood Media Group. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training Top 100 and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 29 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.