Because marketing has changed dramatically, bringing with it a skills gap, B2B marketers must strive to keep up with new developments in technology, metrics, process and accountability. Training is imperative in addressing this gap.
Salespeople are used to training. From the moment they start carrying the bag, they receive periodic knowledge transfers on the products they sell, negotiation, productivity, motivation and more. But we marketers are new to the idea of regular training. Because marketing has changed dramatically, bringing with it a skills gap, B2B marketers must strive to keep up with new developments in technology, metrics, process and accountability. Training is imperative in addressing this gap.
An organization’s decision to offer training to its marketers is only the first step in committing to increase skills and knowledge. The next step is to drive participation, retention and application of newly learned skills. Take the following steps to ensure that the investment in training is fully leveraged:
- Set aside time and create milestones. Human beings need deadlines. Offering open-ended access to learning without attaching timelines can result in serious procrastination. We all mean well, but let’s not forget how busy we are with day-to-day work. Carve out time on the calendar, set due dates and offer time-bound opportunities for learners to report on what they participated in and what they’ve learned.
- Create opportunities for collaboration. Whether it’s an in-person event, e-learning, a workshop or a webcast, there is always value in sharing what you’ve learned. By discussing new knowledge, you make it practical and usable in your day-to-day work. Facilitate brown-bag lunches, social collaboration and virtual question-and-answer sessions to bring people together to talk about what they’ve learned.
- Congratulate and honor achievements. Who doesn’t love to be honored for their achievements? By simply acknowledging people who have successfully completed training and at what level, you further validate the time and energy they have invested. And you encourage others to follow their example.
- Cement new skills with practical application. Ask learners to describe how they will use what they have learned and what tools might be required to put their new knowledge into action. Ask them to report quarterly on how they’re using what they’ve learned, how they’ve changed their process accordingly and how they’ve continued to learn more.
With these steps, you can improve the impact training has on your marketing team’s performance. Setting deadlines, congratulating, collaborating and applying what has been learned make the difference between short-term conceptual knowledge and best practice learning that contributes to a longer-term performance improvement.