How To Launch A Competency-Based Training Program For External Partners
Training should be the number one priority for companies that regularly rely on partner support, as it’s easier to anticipate needs and issues rather than try to fix them later. One of the best ways to do this is through competency-based training programs suitable for each partner. This way, you’ll make sure that the extended enterprise is familiar with the latest branding guidelines as well as increase their productivity.
Returning to the previous comparison, a smart learning environment will result in better outcomes for your company. Whether providing in-person, blended, or remote training, tools such as an intelligent learning platform (ILP) will help you create training, distribute it across the organization, and measure mastery of competencies.
What Are Competencies?
Competencies represent the knowledge and behaviors required to perform a task effectively. For example, customer focus, adaptability, and results-driven are just a few of the key competencies that resellers need to market and sell your company’s products or services successfully.
Digital transformation means that companies must adapt to new skill requirements and close significant skill gaps in the coming years. Competency-based training ensures that organizations and external partners are on the same page by targeting the most important knowledge and behaviors that will lead to the best results. Moreover, this type of training takes into account the need to align goals and establish priorities, which is a major pain point for the extended enterprise.
What Are The High-Level Competencies That The Extended Enterprise Needs?
In many cases, your partners interact with prospective clients often. This means that they need to put your company in the best light, as well as have the key competencies needed to close a deal, such as:
- Branding – external partners know how to expertly communicate the mission and values, use marketing materials created by you, etc.
- Sales – they know how to make an offer and interact with customers as well as understand what customers need and expect
- Social influence – your partners should know how to sell effectively, be persuasive and lead by example
While this is in no way an exhaustive list, you can use it as a starting point to set priorities for your own extended enterprise efforts.
How To Implement A Competency-Based Training Approach For External Partners
Implementing a competency-based training program for the extended enterprise doesn’t differ too much from creating employee training. However, it can be more complex, especially if you have many different types of partners. Here are some key steps to guide you through this process:
1. Establish Partner Training Goals
Get a clear idea of your partners’ needs and goals. Some partners, such as resellers or affiliates, might need general knowledge about your product or service. Distributors and sales representatives might need more hands-on training, including product features or the biggest differentiators between your product and the competition.
These goals can be added later to the learning system you use to convey training. Using an intelligent platform, companies can set competencies for their partners by adding them as learning goals. Then, competencies are associated with course content. After taking training, the system will automatically assess their performance in courses. Those skills can be enhanced by taking additional courses recommended by the platform.
This way, there is no redundancy in terms of materials that external partners take, and the learning experience is personalized to their specific needs.
2. Create Flexible Courses
Each member of the extended enterprise has different goals and preferences when it comes to their training. Some prefer watching a video, while others might find it easier to squeeze a micro course  into their daily routine. Therefore, it’s important to accommodate all of those needs and use a learning platform that provides a variety of course types.
On top of ensuring that they create relevant courses, L&D specialists need to provide a flexible learning environment for the extended enterprise. Once they upload training materials to the learning platform, members of the extended enterprise can access them at their own convenience. The asynchronous training model is probably the most suitable and flexible scenario.
3. Use Course Analytics
Analytics is a great way to collect training data and better understand training progress. What’s more, using the data collected from your competency-based training programs, you can focus your training strategies on those that prove effective instead of wasting time on those that are not satisfactory. Using course analytics, you can see the most important information on course progress, completion, and learners’ achievements.
The time spent in the course or individual modules can also tell a lot about how effective the materials you create are for your extended enterprise. For instance, if learners spend too much time in a course, it might be because it’s too difficult to understand. Therefore, you can tweak the content or provide additional resources.
4. Invest In Partner Engagement
You can keep partners engaged by setting clear management expectations, making them feel part of the company culture, and rewarding their efforts. Learning platforms provide different features that you can use to create an engaging learning experience. For example, you can gamify training programs.
After identifying training goals, you can break them down into categories of goals that partners need to reach by the end of the course and implement them in your competency-based learning strategy. Then introduce incentives to motivate and reward them for their efforts.
You may offer points, a badge, or a certificate of completion. People are more motivated to go through a course if they get a reward at the end. What’s more, you can also divide your partners into different teams, such as resellers, affiliates, etc., and introduce a healthy sense of competition to see which team can make the top of the leaderboard.
5. Take Advantage Of Compliance Training
Compliance ensures that the extended enterprise meets and complies with regulatory demands on time. All you need to do is create and distribute compliance materials. Smart learning platforms send compliance notifications at regular intervals when there is a new compliance course to complete or their compliance is past due. There is no need to send out mass emails reminding everyone to take their courses.
Through compliance, partners are continuously engaged in training, and you can regularly test them to ensure that their knowledge and skills align with the latest guidelines. Certified partners help build customer trust and are overall more productive.
Effective competency-based training and resources for the extended enterprise help organizations and partners align their goals, increasing productivity and building better relationships as a result. Extended enterprise training is a win-win situation, leading to an increase in revenue for both sides.