Your members’ corporate training teams were already challenged before the pandemic arrived. They were “small, lean, and strapped for resources as of February 2020,” according to the Association for Talent Development. Then, the virtual tsunami hit and every kind of training and professional development activity had to move online.
Not only that, but new training needs emerged: remote work, compliance issues, employee wellbeing, and change management, just to name a few. Learning and development (L&D) and human resources (HR) teams are overwhelmed trying to meet these new needs in a remote work environment while taking care of all the usual demands on their time.
Corporate L&D and HR teams don’t always have the technology to deliver virtual training, or the capability (and capacity) to design, develop, and deliver training programs. They need a corporate training partner who understands their industry and professional development needs—and that’s where your association comes in.
How the corporate training partner relationship works in real life
Simply put, in a corporate training partner relationship, companies contract with you to purchase licenses for your existing online learning programs. Associations also work with companies to customize existing programs, as The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research does for some of their agency members.
Every association has their own approach to selling education to company members. We work with our clients to understand their particular situation and workflow requirements, and create a solution that meets their needs and their member companies’ needs.
For example, you can give larger organizations their own LMS partition or portal where they browse their own catalog or library of courses. This “mini-LMS” features customized branding and an administrative dashboard where companies can manage the training process, for example, create learning paths, enroll users, assign training, and track progress.
L&D/HR staff and/or supervisors can monitor and enforce completion of mandatory training, and share this compliance data via an integration with their HRIS systems.
For smaller companies who don’t need such a sophisticated LMS experience, you can offer a self-service model and pricing agreement. The company goes to your regular course catalog, buys a block of registrations, and distributes coupon codes or tokens to their employees.
In this case, the LMS acts as a one-stop shop for company admins. They can register their own users, run reports, and track purchases, registrations, and users.
The Mortgage Bankers Association offers a bulk enrollment option for groups of employees as well as corporate subscription packages. Training managers can see progress, track grades, and pull certificates of completion for each employee.
The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) handles it a bit differently. They sell course “seats” (IFEBP calls them “credits”) to corporate members in license pools. The member company let employees in and out of license pools according to their HR needs. They can see which employees have taken courses, how far along they are in their courses, and how many “credits” they have left in their license pools.
IFEBP can track how many “credits” have been distributed and redeemed in each license pool and for each company. Nick Olig, director of online learning at IFEBP, said, “You’ve got to get content out to them where they need it, when they need it. Anything you can do to take down barriers of entry to your content is critical.”
Marketing and selling corporate training to employers
Your association has a huge advantage over other online external training vendors—a growing industry now that corporate training has gone virtual. Most importantly, you already have existing relationships with member companies and a reputation in your industry for relevant, high-quality education.
You can’t build online learning programs and assume the corporate business will come. You have to get out there and sell, but with a relationship–focused, consultative sales approach.
Companies don’t have the time or expertise to develop their own content and learning paths for different job roles, but your association has that capability. For example, to promote their learning paths, the Alliance’s Difference Makers campaign showed the steps that industry influencers took in their careers.
Show companies that you understand their training needs and can match them with the appropriate education and credentialing programs. Connect your solutions to their challenges. Explain how your programs will positively impact their staff’s development and their company’s business performance.
Meet quarterly with your corporate contacts to review employee progress, learn about emerging needs, and provide advice. Invite some of your corporate contacts to serve on an advisory board so you can tap them for insight on future products.
Send out a quarterly newsletter that provides updates on new programs, describes changes to existing programs, explains how your clients’ insight was implemented, and shares successful practices.
An LMS helps member companies take advantage of your online courses without the need for handholding from your association. Nick from IFEBP said, “We’ve monetized our content and we need efficient ways to distribute that content. The more efficient we are, the more we can focus on the content itself—that’s where our expertise comes to fruition.”
By providing these corporate training programs, your association can establish deeper relationships with company members and their employees, resulting in strengthened loyalty and higher member and customer retention.