July 31, 2017

How to sell the eLearning idea to your internal stakeholders

eLearning LMS

You’ve done your research and are certain that your organization will benefit from investing in online training and that implementing an eLearning management system is the way to go. It will provide a great return on investment, save time and open new avenues to reach people within the company. After all, for most HR and Training managers, the key challenge is to bridge the communication gap between the employee and the organization. eLearning offers the perfect opportunity to reach them at the right time and with the right content in order to build knowledge, improve skills and boost confidence.

The only thing standing between you and success are other people in your organization or in other words, your internal clients. 

Selling eLearning to the internal customer is very often a stumbling block. After all is planned and implemented, whether you are a training or HR manager or working in marketing or customer service, if you are in charge of a Learning Management System (LMS), you might find that getting a buy-in from key stakeholders is no small feat. It’s hard enough to get the budget signed off in the first place, but it can be an even tougher test to get learners to use it and most of all actually enjoy it.

The techniques and advice shared below are drawn from our own experience working with a variety of clients, however, they might not work in every case. Use them more as guidelines and trust your own instincts and knowledge of the particular circumstances and dynamics in your company.

Nurture your champions

Very often, when we plan a change within an organization there is too much focus on the big picture, and if you are working within an HR capacity you will be way too familiar with this situation. Analysing tons of data to support our cause, chasing deadlines and calculating and over-calculating budgets can become the main focus. The fact is that people are the key to every change. Most of us dislike change; however, there is a silver lining in every cloud. You just need to find the right people within your company who will embrace the concept of eLearning, who will truly believe in the idea and will be passionate and enthusiastic about the new approach. They will also provide you with valuable feedback and help you shape your approach, so it’s more flexible and yields the result you were looking for in the first place.

Think “customer first”

Your internal stakeholders and your learners are both your customers and you should never lose sight of that. Don’t make assumptions about what they should or shouldn’t know or do, you must sell your ideas and approach to them in the same way as you would to an external customer. Only by addressing their pain you will be able to gain their buy-in. Therefore, it’s key to deliver value and trust, so when it comes to using (and enjoying) the system it’s not a battle but a gain to all sides. A good way to approach your customers is to identify what is in it for them, to make the benefits that they will gain clear and desirable. Whether it’s saving them effort, improving their workflow or teaching them a skill, they need to be clear about how they’ll achieve their goals by using the Learning Management System. Be direct and open so they can feel confident and assured.

(Read a story of how the right communication with the internal customer and the vendor can help deliver a challenging project as expected and how eLearning was a viral part of it)  

Blend it all together

The concept of blended learning is not new and perhaps you’re already doing it within your organization. However, it’s not enough to just create a pre or post-course face-to-face module. You need to really link it together in a seamless way that will create consistency between the classroom and online elements of your training and also provide reference points in the real, day-to-day experience of your audience.

Address their fear

Resistance to change is often the result of fear- people don’t want to be replaced by robots and the “e” before Learning often has negative connotations. Don’t brush this over, rather address it and reassure your stakeholders and co-workers that eLearning will complement and enhance the traditional methods, and can support them in many ways. 

Last but not least, you need to plan, develop and apply an internal marketing program for your courses. You can view eLearning like any other product or service, and if you want to get buy-in why not create excitement, expectation and help people realize that you are addressing their needs in a way that will benefit them.

After all said and done, use your creativity and enthusiasm, do not settle for the norm and give your best shot to make your eLearning ideas work for everyone.