In getting started with Virtual Training (VILT) you may need to convince your Exec team. Where do you begin?
These 9 tips may help you think through your approach, so you can make your recommendations to your Exec in a balanced, well-prepared, credible manner …and hopefully be successful!
- Align your recommendations to your organisation’s strategy
- Cherry-pick benefits that will resonate with your Exec
- Be convinced yourself
- Create a balanced business case
- Get an Exec member onside before you present your case
- Use the science of influence
- Work up some example case studies for your own organisation
- Stress the importance of upfront investment for long term gain
- Persuade the Exec to experience a VILT demo
1. Align your recommendations to your organisation’s strategy
What is your organisation’s strategy – both short and longer term? What commitments have been declared? For example, does your organisation intend to focus on being more: Inclusive? Innovative? Carbon friendly? People focused? Perhaps there is a shift to support more home working or development of remote teams.
Okay, you get the idea. If you can demonstrate how moving to VILT aligns with the direction and needs of the business now and in the future, the Exec are likely to be more interested.
For example, a global engineering client of The Virtual Training Team has made a commitment to be more ‘digital’. This has enabled the L&D team to build a strong business case for investment in VILT as it means using more technology, communicating remotely and using less resource.. all aligned to the success of their strategy.
2. Cherry-pick benefits that will resonate with your Exec
There are many benefits in making the move to using VILT. If you swamp the Exec with the benefits of VILT it could feel overwhelming. Frankly, you don’t want to come across as evangelical rather be an enthused and knowledgeable advocate!
Consider which 2/3 benefits will resonate most. Use these to connect with the Exec. You may need to do some detecting to uncover which are likely to be the most important.
This doesn’t mean that you ignore the other benefits, you can always backfill with these later. This is about choosing what to really focus on to get the Exec to buy in. Then, when you present your recommendation to them, you can frame the benefits in such a way that it aligns with their thinking and longer-term strategic intent.
3. Be convinced yourself
Are you convinced that making the move to incorporate VILT is the right one? Maybe you have concerns about what this might mean for you and your L&D colleagues.
Click here to read our blog on how to convince your L&D team to embrace the move to VILT.
If you have any ongoing doubts yourself, then this may be a sign that you haven’t finished your investigation and that your business case still needs some work.
Talk to other companies who have already made the move and find out what worked and didn’t work for them.
There are many benefits of virtual training (VILT) but If you are not fully convinced yourself, it may be difficult convincing your Exec.
4. Create a balanced business case
When preparing to present your recommendations to the Exec, prepare thoroughly and deliver a balanced case.
You may choose to share (or at least consider, so you can be prepared for questions):
- The advantages and disadvantages of using VILT
- The upfront investment vs the cost saving
- How VILT aligns with the needs, strategy and values of your organization
- What is the risk of using VILT / not using VILT?
- What alternative options are available?
Then you can share your recommendation, demonstrating that it is a robust, well thought-through and balanced case for consideration.
To quote an Exec Board Member we spoke to recently, his advice was “Get scientific, not religious. There is little point in having loads of converts among non-decision makers and none at the top of the house”.
5. Get an Exec member onside before you present your case
It makes good business sense to test out your recommendation on somebody with inside knowledge of how the Exec might think and react.
Ask lots of questions and ask for specific feedback. Ask about what questions, concerns or challenges the Exec might have in moving to VILT so you can prepare for these in advance too.
You can then develop your approach, so you are in the best possible space to present a winning case.
Additionally, you will already have somebody in the Exec team who is convinced by your approach.
Often it is your Finance Director that can be most helpful to get onside. Typically, if they can see the cost benefits of a move to VILT then they will be more likely to support you in making your case.
Most times your HRD will already be a supporter and they can sponsor you having time on the Board meeting agenda.
6. Use the science of influence
Consider using a theory from psychology called ‘Social Proof’ which can help to convince your Exec. This works by demonstrating how comparable other organisations have used VILT to positive effect. If you can demonstrate that X, Y or Z company have already successfully made the move, then this makes it easier and safer for the Exec to say yes. Many people prefer to move forward down a well proven track, rather than be pioneers.
It is important that you choose carefully which organisations you example. Which are most likely to appeal to your Exec? Is it an admired brand, or even a competitor? Get it wrong and it can backfire, so think carefully about those that are likely to hit their hot buttons.
Find case studies, endorsements and examples of what other organisations are doing by researching online or with your network. For example, in research conducted by The Association of Talent Development (ATD) in their 2017 ‘State of the Industry’ report they found that 64% of organisations are already using VILT, with a further 22% intending to make the move.
7. Work up some example case studies for your own organisation
Case studies from industry can be useful. Your own case studies can have even greater power to influence as they are real and tangible to decision makers and stakeholders.
Plan ahead on how you intend to use VILT. Work out the numbers, the improvements, outcomes and cost savings so you can demonstrate the impact to the Exec.
Perhaps you intend to move a section of your Onboarding Programme to VILT, or a blended approach of VILT and F2F. How much will this save on travel costs, hotels, subsistence, print, time away from the desk and even carbon footprint? How much does a typical day of classroom training cost at Head Office in comparison to the VILT equivalent?
This way you can create a like for like comparison that the Exec take notice of.
8. Stress the importance of upfront investment for long term gain
This is really important. If you want VILT to succeed in your organisation, it is important that you get it right first time. Why? To avoid matching some of the negative expectations that some people have of VILT approaches such as:
- “The technology will go wrong”
- “It will be dull and one-way”
- “It won’t deliver great results”
- “Learners won’t come back for more”
Click here to read our blog on the common misconceptions of VILT.
All of your VILT deliveries need to blast those negative expectations out of the water! This means convincing the Exec to invest properly in:
- The right delivery platform for your organisation such as WebEx, Adobe Connect or Skype
- Upskilling your trainers at facilitating in a virtual environment
- Help your trainers master the technology so workshops run smoothly
- Investing in how to design and develop VILT and blended learning programmes
- Moving your training providers to those that are truly VILT professionals
If the Exec challenge because they believe that making the move to VILT is just a case of sharing some slides over Skype, then be prepared to challenge back. Be clear on the actions that need to be taken and especially on the advantages of moving some of your training delivery to VILT. Estimate your numbers carefully and prepare your business case thoroughly.
9. Persuade the Exec to experience a VILT demo
Many organisations have found a demonstration session online and live helps to convinces the Exec of the opportunity and potential of VILT.
At the Virtual Training Team, we regularly deliver demonstrations for clients to showcase what quality VILT looks and feels like. It is important is that sponsors and stakeholders experience a VILT workshop so they understand what it is like to participate. Also, we find that they quickly appreciate the trainer skills involved in designing and delivering quality VILT that in turn creates learning transfer.
Demonstrations bring the VILT approach to life. This is where you truly ‘get’ what VILT is all about. We hear comments like “Now I understand!” or “That is way better than I was expecting" or “That is so much more engaging than I imagined” etc.
Demonstrations are often the key moment in decision making to move ahead with VILT. Execs become convinced of the need to invest wisely in using the right platform, upskilling trainers and improving existing training design and materials.
Do prepare and research thoroughly considering the 9 tips in this article.
Do book demos for interested parties such as the Exec, stakeholders etc.
Access our other guides here on getting started with Virtual Training (VILT).
Do contact The Virtual Training Team for any help you may need.