Selling the Concept of Learning

Earlier this month, we hosted a group of Bay Area learning professionals to discuss the challenges of selling learning initiatives internally. The group noted that differences exist when selling up the corporate ladder, to gain funding, or selling down the ladder, to get employees to attend the approved learning programs.

But everyone agreed that you’re always selling the concept of learning, whether it’s up, down or across that ladder. So we asked:

How do you sell learning when you don’t consider yourself a salesperson?

Here are three suggestions:

  • Find an advocate. That senior manager could join a steering committee and help establish priorities for a group of learners. Or find a senior leader who is willing to sell your idea to his or her group. Then provide them with all the data and details they need to promote the idea successfully.
  • Establish a presence. It’s important to know your learners and how their business works. That involves being with them. Walk around the office, chat with people, ask good questions, and learn to speak their language. The more you know, the better you’ll connect.
  • Create peer pressure. With more than one group of learners, encourage competiveness, a game of sorts. Selling a learning idea to Team B might be easy, if they know Team A valued it. Or maybe Team B’s leader always enjoys being the first to pilot a program. Encourage conversations about learning between group leaders. Everyone will feel involved and that builds interest.

Collectively, the group concluded that building strong relationships across the organization always makes the selling job easier. While challenges will still exist, these might become less overwhelming, if your organization knows and acknowledges you and your expertise.

How have you sold learning within your organization? Do you have an innovative tip to get buy-in? Please share in the comments below.

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