This was originally posted on td.org in April, 2019.
It’s an exciting time to work in the learning and development industry. There are more tools, technologies, and trends to choose from than ever before.
For example, at AllenComm, we’re excited about our growing capabilities in virtual and augmented reality. These innovations are becoming more and more applicable to the training world. However, we find that not many of our clients are looking for a high-tech experience—because they aren’t at a point where they’re ready to address more complicated, high-tech needs. They’re still looking for basic, low-tech solutions for basic, low-tech needs.
Is the Industry Ignoring the Needs of the Clients?
We’d have to say no. Based on the success of our marketing strategies and the interest we garner at conferences, it doesn’t seem AllenComm or other vendors are necessarily out of touch with client needs. If anything, it seems like the industry is ahead of client needs. We’re addressing problems many businesses don’t even know they have.
There are a lot of businesses still grappling with problems that the learning industry solved; take compliance training in the entertainment business. But successful vendors have already determined ways to make effective compliance training. In our minds, this problem is already solved.
So while our clients are still stuck on, “But will this work?” we already know it works. We’re looking ahead to using innovation to make compliance training engaging as well as effective. That creates a gap between what clients are looking for and what vendors are eager to offer.
How Do Vendors Get Better at Meeting Clients Where They Are?
Communication is key. First, we need to understand and address the basic client concerns. This can be done through meetings with the client, needs analyses, and a clearly written proposal statement.
Once we know exactly what the client is hoping to do and what their expectations are, we can slowly introduce more innovative solutions. That might mean not being too innovative the first time you work with a client. If they’re looking for boring, basic, low-tech but effective, give them boring, basic, low-tech but effective.
As a client partnership develops, you should be able to convince them to step outside of their comfort zone and move forward with more innovative solutions. Some clients may never be comfortable with innovation, and that’s OK; but there’s no harm in showing them the benefits. If they trust you, they should at least be willing to look at it.
There’s nothing wrong with the learning industry’s leaps and bounds in innovation. We just have to help clients catch up before we can start using new tools, technologies, and trends to meet their needs.