We started our first round of skilling on select software products of IBM in April 2010. We first started with tele enablement and then followed it up with face to face enablement. In tele enablement the participation from partners was comparatively less, however during the face to face enablement the response was overwhelming. We carried out the training in 21 cities and around 300 persons from close to 200 partners attended these training sessions. The response from these training sessions was simply great and that helped us understand that we are moving in the right direction and we went ahead and organized the second round of training, which has started from 17th August 2010. I would like to share some of the things which we took into consideration which worked for us :
(1) Identify locations/cities : We identified the cities based on the potential of the cities to do business and the potential of buying/selling IBM Software. We identified 21 cities for the first round of training.
(2) Identification of the products: We took six products from a list of thousand odd products on which we wanted to focus. Four of these products were completely suitable for the market segment we were trying to address and the two other products were picked based on the future potential for these products.
(3) Tele training : We decided to start with tele training. We took two products per week and one product per day. It was a one hour session. The response was much less compared to what we got in the face to face training, but it definitely helped in building the momentum among the partner community and among the IBMers.
(4) Face to face training : This was a logistical challenge and secondly knowing that the type of partners who might come for the training will be a mix of partners who know about software and those who do not know much about software having the right training material was the biggest challenge. We reduced the usage of PPT during the training as much as possible. It worked and helped increase the knowledge and confidence level of the Business Partners. The feedback we got are getting incorporated in the second round of training which is happening now.
(5) Asking the right questions : In the current training session we are trying to see that the partners learn to ask the right questions to identify the pain points and help the customer understand the right solution. The feedback from the four cities we have covered so far is encouraging.
(6) Taking the fear away : Most IBM software products are enterprise class products hence many partners have a strong feeling that it will be very complex to work on the software. These trainings are helping them understand that there are many products which are simple to sell, simple to install and simple to use, like any other software product they are used to. We think these trainings have definitely helped in reducing the misconception many of the partners had.
(7) More Opportunities and more closures : We see a decent growth in the number of business partners who are able to identify potential opportunities and are able to map the right IBM software products. This is helping in doing more business. All partners who got trained did not succeed but a big percentage of the partners have started getting results and this is very encouraging for us and for the partner community.
(8) Creating awareness : The parallel activity of creating awareness about those products/solutions on which the training sessions are getting organized with the end user segment of all those cities is also helping. The end users are becoming more aware of the business problems and the solutions for those problems and this is helping in more business opportunities for IBM and for the partner community of IBM Software.