Can you actually guarantee training results? Can you? The simple answer is “Yes, you can.” Of course, if you aren’t very good, it’ll be a financial disaster–not to mention the people who lost the benefit of good training. Or, maybe you aren’t so bad, but the client is ruthless and found the loophole to not pay. Not trust building to be sure, but it can happen.
I can’t with absolute certainty guarantee those results either, but I will. Maybe you will, too, after you hear the rest. The practice does have its advantages.
Obviously an arrangement like this is appealing to the buyer and has a potential for disaster unless it is worked out well. Here are the basic steps:
- I offer to work out most of the details in advance. You can rest assured there will be more details you and the client “forgot” when you arrive. The trick for you is to try not to forget the important aspects of the training course with this process.
- Travel and accommodations are paid up front and are reasonable. Basically what the company would pay for a junior executive or middle manager to travel and stay in another location. Nothing lavish. That way the client doesn’t feel taken advantage of, and it puts you in the same category as one of “his” own.
- Before arrival and upon arrival many of the needs are worked out. I like to know in advance exactly what I’m in for. Build a checklist of your needs as a trainer and use it as a guide to work out the details. Get the client to sign off on what “he or she” will provide you and make sure the actual conditions that may affect the outcome–don’t. You know–the too hot room, uncomfortable chairs, not enough room to move about, poor acoustics. These are things a client may assume is perfectly fine. Reserve the right to add it to the contract after you arrive.
- If you need the technical side taken care of by the company, obviously you can’t be responsible if it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t work in the end and that is why some of the trainees are disappointed, it is not your fault–therefore, not a part of your guarantee. So, make sure it is part of the contract.
- Eliminate any factors that will take away from your “fantastic” performance and address possible factors that may make the experience not so great for the attendees. If this sounds like you’re covering your bases, you are. It’s like going to the theatre and seeing a terrific show, but the air conditioning was turned off because it interfered with the acoustics and the audience couldn’t hear the actors. Some audience members will understand; some will not appreciate the treatment they received and forget the stellar performance in front of them.
- Be very careful to detail what you are going to be doing and what the objectives will be for the class. Ensure this is agreed to in writing before you make the trip. Allow for changes, if you wish, but only if you also make them part of the result. So note them in the contract.
- Everyone will admit a hundred percent acceptance of your training performance is unrealistic. Try to keep this an informal arrangement. Use qualifiers when talking to the client and the class evaluations. That way no one expects you to be perfect.
These are just seven steps. You may think of others as you go along. Make sure to tie the possible negatives to the outcome. Let your trainees know to be specific on what was not good–in anything. The idea is to allow no surprises and if there are, you have established a good, honest, upfront relationship that may make it not a big deal. I admit that this concept of guaranteeing my performance or my results is risky, but in this economy everyone wants reassurances they are spending wisely. Me, well, I’m really just starting out on my own after 30 years of experience and a few more studying the market and the field. You’ve probably heard the songs from “A CHORUS LINE,” I Hope I Get It or I Can Do That. There is a certain desperation when the actors sing, “I really need this job.” Stop applying for the job. You can do that! Take the risk to lay out what you can guarantee.
In some ways, this is a trick blog, if there is such a thing. Guarantees are nice, but I find too often in this business there seems to be an arrogance in the marketing on behalf of those who are successful, and an ignorance and tentative approach on behalf of those just starting out. For the latter, that makes them perfect prey to the more powerful and experienced. It doesn’t have to be that way. Other merchants take risks that you won’t like the product they sell and offer a money back guarantee. Is this any different? If you are that good, there’s little risk. If you question you’re own abilities to “knock ’em” dead, at least you are aware of it and will take particular care in designing your training.
As for the contract itself, it keeps everyone honest and focused. It makes you and your client do the necessary homework to have the best training session. What’s the worse that can happen? Lessons learned by all. Some time wasted maybe–if you don’t count the learning you did in the process. Use the process to make sure you know your audience and what is expected of you. A little afraid you don’t know the subject? Having a contract guaranty will make you research it, learn it, know it.
Finally, the process will help you understand yourself and your client to realize just how complicated and how important good communication and training is. Bottom line: who can argue with results.
As always, these comments are my own, dredged up from my brain alone. Mine is an earthy approach to training; I try to look at it–not always as a trainer but an outsider looking in–an outsider who is a communicator, a trainer and a manager. I’ll come back with a technical look at developing training–the details I assume you already know in this post, but I’ll be back. Got a great article you’d like to do on the Developing a Training Plan, for example, let me know and it can be yours. Or look at one of the related ones that deal with terms and explanations. It only has to be substantive and not overly promotional on your part. Oh, and it helps if you can write it in an interesting way. This training and development stuff can be so boring if we let it… Smile! Want to be a guest blogger on training and development or any other subject in The Management Library‘s repertoire, click the link at the top for Guest Writers.
For more resources about training, see the Training library.
My website is always available should you not tire of my remarks. I am working on a book of my blogs from my commonsense “caveman training” approach to training, which is not at all near completion so this is not a plug. As a performance coach, I also talk about communication in general, theatre and write performance criticism under the drop-down heading of What I Say. Click on it too long and you get my demos. I apologize for the site’s look at the moment, but I’m adding some other features that are under construction.
Know your audience, know your subject and, by all means, know yourself. For a look at the human side of training from my Cave Man perspective, please check out my book, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development. Happy training.