• This Blog Is Inactive!

    On of May 8, 2009, I moved my blog over to a new domain: DaveSteinsBlog.ESResearch.com

    I will no longer be posting on this URL. Comments will not be moderated. More information.

  • ESR’s STVG

    Here is ESR's highly acclaimed Sales Training Vendor Guide, Third Edition.

  • Advertisements

Technology-Driven Sales Learning At Cisco

Click on image for full sizeSuzanne McLarnon, Director of Worldwide Sales Force Development at Cisco, presented at Richardson’s 2008 Client Forum in late October. 

Suzanne’s topic was Using Technology To Drive Sales Force Performance.  Suzanne’s mission at Cisco isn’t trivial.  Cisco’s sales force is a huge global community, consisting of 17,000 sales professionals and over 200,000 partners, and, as you can imagine, it’s not a homogeneous workforce.  Suzanne knows she has to make learning consumable for the community—any time, any place.

Among Suzanne’s many insightful slides, there are two I want to draw your attention to.  The first, “The Workforce Spans Four Generations of Learners,” is by itself a strong argument to reconsider traditional two- to three-day classroom training programs.  I delved into this subject before, including in a podcast with Cam Marston.

Attempting to provide a multi-generational (and heterogeneous in culture and experience) audience with the same content, presented in the same way, with the same learning expectations is generally not going to work.  (Click on the image to view it full-size.)

That challenge, along with others, such as the increasing sophistication of customer needs, the rapid pace of availability of new products, services and solutions and expanding global and mobile field sales forces require a change in learning that only technology can support.  Cisco’s learning strategy, developed by Suzanne, calls for them to open the aperture for learning while orienting it around exemplar performance.

Click on image for full size.Here are the critical characteristics of The Learning Strategy:

Consumable:  Sellers need answers at the moment of need.  The need for just-in-time information for Cisco sellers has resulted in a web service that provides search capability of content down to the presenter’s spoken word.  Today that service hosts more than 7,000 presentations, with more than 380,000 downloads/year, and usage across 95% of their global System Engineers.

Collaborative: Jay Cross at the Internet Time Group said, “It is more practical to think of learning as tuning our human networks to the problem at hand as opposed to filling our head with content.”  At the moment, Cisco has 74 “Communities of Experts” with a total of 3,000 members.  In addition, Cisco’s virtual classrooms and virtual interaction facilities save money and insure consistent experience among learners.

Immersive:  Suzanne quotes Roger Shank: “The human mind is better equipped to gather information about the world by operating within it than by reading about it, hearing lectures on it, or studying abstract models of it.”  Sales simulation and support desk simulation are two immersive platforms that have sped up the onboarding process.

Hopefully before long, the word “traditional” will no longer be associated with sales learning. 

Thanks to Suzanne McLarnon for permission to use her content.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: