What are your options if you’re buying sales training tools in 2012? Here’s a quick breakdown of the most popular players.
Adopt & Bend Existing Tools
Sometimes that means carving out a space in your intranet for sales training. Or re-using existing licenses for PowerPoint, QuickTime, or other software tools. Or bending e-mail to your will, even though it won’t send large video files.
- Get started fast. Because management has already approved it, you don’t need to get sign-offs again. And because someone has already done the shopping for you, you can spend less time shopping and more time boosting performance.
- Less end-user training. Because your salespeople should already know how to use their intranet and smartphone.
- Updates break your mix. Software X’s latest update might break its compatibility with Software Y. The more tools in your mix, the higher the chance an update will break some compatibility.
- When things break, you need to fix it. Or wait for IT.
- Compromises. You may need to run with something that’s 80% of the way there, not 100%.
- Need to train end-users on every tool in your mix—Software A, Software B, Software C, Software D, etc.
Stitch Your Own
That may mean integrating Moodle or WordPress with dozens of third-party plug-ins and authoring tools like Articulate and Flash. Or stitching a video hosting service to a content management system, wrapped in a password-protection script, and paired with a generic iPhone app that pulls RSS feeds.
- Better fit. Don’t need to compromise as much as adopting and bending existing tools because you can choose your own tools.
- Need to train end-users on your stitched-together solution.
- Updates break integrations. For example, this happens a lot with WordPress. The WordPress team rolls out a core update and all the plug-in creators need to scramble to update their plug-ins to play nice with WordPress’ latest version. Not every plug-in keeps up, which means you may be stuck with broken plug-ins.
- Need to wait for IT to stitch everything together. Or spend many hours doing it yourself.
Building Your Own
Either coding something up yourself, hiring IT, or outsourcing to a development shop.
- Zero compromise. You can tailor a custom fit and line your pockets with black and pink polka-dots if you’d like.
- Upkeep. You’ll need to do customer support and fix anything that your users break. Constantly. And create patches and updates that combat the latest viruses floating around the Internet.
- Pricey, both in time and money. If you’re not building it yourself, you’re playing project manager and buying development time.
- Slow. IT can bottleneck your project, and a development shop can spend forever because they make more money by billing more hours. One of my colleagues just got off the phone with a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company that built their own. The person on the other end of the line said the project took years.
Buying an Off-the-Shelf Sales Training Solution
Software vendors like Bloomfire provide everything you need inside a package topped with a pretty pink bow. (Yes, I’m biased, but read on)
- Budget-friendly. Mass-produced software means customer-friendly prices, because costs are spread amongst many customers.
- Plug-and-play. Get started instantly without having to play project manager.
- Worry-free. The vendor handles customer support. The vendor handles updates and security. The vendor fixes any problem that may arise.
- Vendors may over-promise and under-deliver support.
- Comparison shopping takes time. To make faster decisions, consider test-driving as many sales training products as quickly as possible.