23 Jun How to deliver a high-impact KAM Training
This is the third and last post of our series on KAM Training & Competencies Development.
In the first post we have explored a 5 guiding principles to build a solid KAM Training & Competencies Development approach. In the second post, we have looked at how to define an adequate KAM Training Path. This third post is dedicated to the execution of a high-impact KAM Training Programme.
In this post, we will look at; the training content, the importance of pedagogy, the need for the right cadence and pace, the advantage to work with true KAM practitioners and how to best measure the impact of the Training.
Develop a KAM Training content with a compelling format
A good training starts with a good content and a good training content means:
- a visually compelling training material with creative elements that make it easier to identify and remember the most salient ideas,
- a clear set of concepts and guiding principles, illustrated with relevant examples,
- an introduction of the real KAM Tool Set participants will use in their job,
- practical exercises closely related to the participant’s real-life,
- a structure of the whole set of training material that makes it easy to find and re-used a specific part of the content afterwards.
Use a modern pedagogy ..
Let’s start with a provocative statement. What defines a modern pedagogy? Surely not relying heavily on digital tools. The markers of a modern (modern, not new) pedagogy are as follows.
- Modularity and format flexibility. You can’t pretend to train people on rich topic like KAM in only two days and need a well designed Training Path as presented in our second post. However, you can build a highly-flexible programme that combines remote and face-to-face sessions and takes into account the participants time investment constrains.
- Reverse pedagogy. Adults learn better by sharing views and by doing. Reverse pedagogy uses this principle by inviting participants to acquire knowledge BEFORE the training session in order to focus on a rich interaction when being together, even in a remote mode. This is of course an area where a good digital content can be very helpful.
- High interactivity. Because Adults learn in discussions and exercises, the timing of the training and reinforcement sessions must be create the appropriate conditions.
- Role Plays, Case Studies and Serious Games. These are the very best instruments to create the situations already exposed above. A great care must be given the design of the role plays and case studies. Developing a complete serious game with a situation that develops across the whole training module is a very compelling option although it requires a very significant amount of work, especially for a rich topic like KAM.
- Reinforcement. The reinforcement activities are an absolute pre-requisite to anchor knowledge and to pave the way to deeper-reaching activities such as coaching and experience sharing. In general, reinforcement activities should be short and relatively simple. When applied to KAM this can be a limiting factor. Some digital platforms allow to orchestrate such activities, often with a gamification aspect.
- One-Stop-Shopping Repository. That last point is often overlooked but it is an important one. After the training and to support all the follow-up activities, including in a long term, participants should have access to the training material and all the tools. The Repository should also offer additional resources such as reading suggestions (articles, books), case studies and Return on Experience (REX) content created by peers.
- Feedback process. At each point of their Competencies Development process, participants should be given the opportunity to give feedback on all aspects of the training, of its delivery and of the associated follow-up activities.
An approach of KAM Training built on these principles, in addition to the other ones summarized at the beginning of this post has higher chances to be successful than a training programme that ignores several of these aspects.
… and also a realistic one
Without contradicting what has been presented in the section above, the team in charge of the KAM Training will be better off being quite realistic. KAM is a demanding topic. Therefore sufficient motivation and commitment from participants is a pre-requisite. This is easily said, but it must be substantiated with facts.
For example, I have presented the interest of reverse pedagogy where a good part of the acquisition of knowledge is done before the training sessions. If participants take it seriously, this approach makes the live sessions richer.
However, if the participants do not do their home work before the session, the approach doesn’t work. In this case, it is best to confront the team and discuss the best way forward. Sometime sticking to a good idea implemented badly is a dangerous choice and abandoning the reverse pedagogy – at least temporarily – might be the way to go.
Another area where realism is necessary is the degree of blended learning and digital modules. KAM is a complex topic, full of ambiguity and whatever the quality of digital modules, experience shows that they work well for simple matters but much less for complex matters .
Adopt an adequate cadence and pace
Depending on the context, the KAM Training is here to support the initial implementation or the further development of the KAM initiative. Quite often, there is a temptation to try to achieve too much, too fast. How the training modules are organised, how their delivery is cadenced and what is the frequency of the reinforcement and coaching activities must fit on one hand with the ambitions but also wih the daily job reality of the involved staff. Along the quality of the content, an adequate cadence and pace is a key factor for the success of the KAM Training.
Use true KAM practitioners to deliver training and coaching
When selecting people to deliver your KAM Training, make sure they are good trainers of course but also that they are true KAM practitioners with a realm of experience across multiple sectors and company’s environments. Developing true KAM Skills does not come naturally to many people and during the learning process, which in fact never ends, resistances must be overcome. A seasoned practitioner will be in a better position to put the training content in perspective to make it easier to understand and to adopt by all participants. This works of course provided that the Trainer-Coach has taken enough time to learn about the real operational levers of the trainee’s company. We are back to the point exposed in the previous posts that, like the KAM Methodology, the KAM Training must be fully customised to the company’s environment.
Measure the impact of the Training and the real development of KAM Competencies
The only really valid measurement of the impact of a KAM Training delivered using the principles presented in these 3 posts is of course the development of the Competencies. Here again, the KAM Competencies Reference Framework is a precious instrument. Well designed, and well customised to the context of the company, such a tool helps assess the development and impact of specific behaviours. A good KAM Methodology and a well-designed KAM Tool Box must provide such tools and align them with the existing HR practice within the company.
The reality however is that, most often and for various reasons, training programmes are measured with a short-term view even if, unavoidably, this measurement process presents some built-in limitations. With this in mind, participants should be polled on their level of satisfaction at pre-defined milestones of the training programme. This is useful to detect potential areas for improvement and to check if the training has created some dynamic. However, this is by far not enough.
This closes our series on KAM Skills Development. More post on KAM, Complex sales and Sales Enablement will come soon. If you want to discover more on how we approach KAM in general and KAM Training in particular, take a look at our KAM Services Offering and download our KAM Brochure.