Totally Gaming Academy head of education and training Andrew Spencer reveals why ‘training is an investment, not a cost’ is a cliché borne out of simple truths.
“It’s simply too expensive” is the plaintive plea, the frustrated tone evident even through email; “surely you can discount it more for us – we’re a small operation”, and so on.
It’s a common refrain, to which I want to respond sarcastically with: “Okay, coz it’s you, we’ll do it for nothing and see if the trainer will treat you as a charity case, because evidently you’ve forgotten that we’re a business too and have an equally valid profit motive”.
What would happen if I tried the same argument in the supermarket? “My body has nutritional needs, surely I shouldn’t have to pay for the food – could I have the milk for nothing please?”
Of course giving our courses away for free would be unprofessional and would lose us any work now or in future. But how much of the training that you have been subjected to (yes, subjected to) has placed emphasis on the outcome, rather than concentrating purely on the content or the event itself (the good coffee maybe?).
The professional response would be to highlight the value of their investment, rather than simply the cost – albeit this requires a little patience on our behalf.
However, demonstrating the potential return on investment is contingent on the training containing a few simple but important components. Specifically:
• Tangible objectives – as a result of this training you will be able to identify specific improvement to increase the efficiency/turnover/profitability of your business. Nothing revolutionary here – we’re all familiar with the SMART acronym. It beats a simple content list/agenda.
• Tools for use beyond the training – takeaways – we make a point of issuing some simple templates (spreadsheets for example for plug and play use). By all means issue the slides and some handouts, but how often have you reread the slideshow from a course you’ve been to? The anoraks call this ‘learning transfer’ i.e. tools and methods to enable the use of training back in the workplace.
If a prospective learner objects to a price – “but my manager will never agree to that fee” – the obvious line is something like: “Can I help you build a business case for the training to give to your boss? The training can lead to some benefits which far outweigh the cost of attendance – and the takeaways from the course can be used to help plan and measure the improvements”.
I’ve watched parts of three courses in the last six weeks. On each of them the group’s response to the use of the takeaway tool was obvious, and the feedback reflected it.
My initial response to the price objection is probably misplaced. The onus is on the provider of training to place the emphasis on the business benefit, while the content, presentation and related elements are a means to an end.
Our job in training is to make sure that it is built around that outcome and make it self-evident that this isn’t a cost, but a vital investment with an obvious tangible return.
So next time you’re considering commissioning some training, surprise and challenge your provider with: “So, how will we know if this training has benefitted the business?” “What will we come away from the event with that we can put to use immediately that makes us more efficient/profitable?” “Can you give me some examples of how other clients have benefitted from your courses?
Come and test us. We have some courses coming up, which hopefully include the components I’ve described.