The earlier posts of this series, “Is Your TPM Stuck In Neutral?” and “Does Your TPM Need Alignment?” asserted that the underwhelming current state of affairs of Trade Promotion Management (TPM) is in large part due to a lack of focus on the “soft stuff” such as organizational change management, sponsorship, and field sales engagement. In this edition, I touch on contemporary sales-centric training approaches as a wise investment. So, if you’re considering investing in a new Trade Promotion Management tool or if you’re less than satisfied with your current results, this blog is for you.
The months of planning, preparation and testing are complete with the Big Day finally in sight. It’s time to unveil the new TPM tool and begin to start reaping the process improvements, performance enhancements and financial benefits your team has so diligently worked towards. It’s “Go-Live” time for your new TPM solution and the sales force is gathered for the annual sales meeting with a half-day blocked for TPM systems training.
To ensure success, you’ve diligently hand selected facilitators to lead the training sessions and backed them up with a stable of super users to foster learning and to ignite user adoption. Everything is in place to successfully launch your new TPM solution while concurrently incenting the necessary behavioral changes for building and sustaining momentum as the sales team climbs the learning curve. Right? Not so fast, you just may be stuck in neutral with little opportunity for advancement!
Instead of thinking of training as an event or series of loosely connected events, thoughtfully consider planning and implementing training initiatives as a component of a comprehensive, longer-term process, architected to model and sustain your unique combination of desired process, technical and behavioral changes.
So how will your organization accomplish all of this without getting unduly mired in complexity and losing sight of commercial objectives? Based on prior experience, I encourage you to consider how the following approach may lead to better outcomes for both a new system roll-out and for continuous learning.
- Segment TPM stakeholders (internal and sales) based on their respective roles and expected system interaction. Keep segments to a smallest possible number without compromising meaningful differences.
- Design “learning paths” by user segment and create a training curriculum for each.
- Map individuals to a given “learning path” based on their segment fit and particular needs. For example, national account managers may be a unique segment with distinctive requirements.
- Establish a certification process commensurate with the unique needs per segment. Start with TPM processes as Level 1 and make this a mandatory requirement for all users. Further, system based certification levels should reflect the needs of the segment. Predicate system usage and advancement based on achieving certification for the appropriate level.
- Use a blended training approach that combines appropriate doses of technology with classroom and on-the-job training techniques responsive to the needs of your mobile constituents.
- Integrate the training curriculum and certification records with your Learning Management System or training repository.
- Since most learning occurs when users actually begin using the system (vs. in the classroom), provide subsequent forums for questions and refresher training after users have had a chance to explore the system.
- Keep the content fresh and ensure adequate support post Go Live as you transition into sustain and knowledge dispersion mode.
Don’t get stuck in neutral with TPM. If you’re thinking about a new trade project or if you need remediation, take Clarkston Consulting’s Trade Promotion Health Check.