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Baker Communications: Getting The Learning Job Done

I recently had an enlightening conversation with Walter Rogers (CEO) and Lawne Gerhardt (VP of Global Sales) at Baker Communications.  ES Research hasn’t covered Baker because they weren’t a pure sales training play—sales training content makes up about half of their broad array of course offerings.  You might not have heard of Baker.  Even Walter admits they’ve been under the radar screen.  (Disclosure: Baker has purchased ESR’s research.) 

The Houston-based company is 30 years old.  It was formed in the late 1970’s to meet the sales training needs of Conoco.  Baker was originally a sales training-only firm, targeting the energy sector and winding up in the unenviable position of having Enron as their biggest customer.

In 1990 Walter joined Baker.  He started targeting the technology sector, going after Apple, IBM, and Cray among others.  Baker won a deal for providing training for IBM—a part of their highly successful win-back program.  Walter then turned the company’s attention to the other high growth sectors.

Baker has grown substantially over the past four years. Technology is their largest market. That’s followed by energy, financial services, energy, and health care. They claim 800 active customers, 300 training events a month globally, of which 150 are sales-related.

What surprised me was their change in philosophical approach four years ago when they shifted to looking at alternatives to classroom-based training.  (If you are a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know how that is all changing.)  Visiting Baker Communications’ website doesn’t provide that perspective at all.

Walter established a relationship with WebEx whereby they provide Baker tools and guidance supporting WebEx customers’ sales processes.  That relationship has expanded since Cisco acquired WebEx.

Understanding that most companies don’t have a formal process, Walter took me through how Baker helps companies build a sales process and layer in training and ongoing reinforcement to achieve their client’s performance improvement goals and objectives.  What is unusual is Baker’s approach to an integrated and aligned sales and marketing process for building a highly qualified pipeline.   I’ve not seen a training company take this approach.

Walter took me through their work with one very large staffing company client and how Baker drove the reconfiguring of the company’s sales approach and sales process to enable them to adapt to customer demands in a new market. 

Walter is a smart guy.  He understands the challenges his customers are facing with regard to funding for sales training and is taking the company in the right direction.

Note:  ESR has not yet formally evaluated Baker Communications, so let the sales training buyer beware.

Photo:  © Eray Haciosmanoglu – Fotolia.com


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