Optimal decision-making: Turning data into business opportunity

Written by Stuart Banbery on 11 February 2015

Do you know which of your training courses is growing the fastest?

Do you know where your enquiries are coming from?

Do you know how many of your delegates rebook on to a second courses?

Do you know what customers really think of your courses?

It is said that after its people, data is an organisations most valuable asset. However, data can be worthless, and even deceiving, if your analytical software tools are limited or your data is buried in folder upon folder of Excel spreadsheets.

Recent years have not seen the dramatic fall in training that many predicted - but there has been a significant shift in attitudes. Data is the key to understanding emerging customer trends and positioning your training business ahead of the curve.

There will always be a requirement for training in some shape or form; either for compliance or to ensure your employees can carry out their jobs to an acceptable standard. But the more strategic businesses see training as an effective way to gain a competitive advantage competitive and to retain talent.

However, long-term, a move away from traditional classroom-based training delivered by external providers, towards innovative, blended and ultimately “cheaper” on-line training is forecast. Indeed, Keynote (2014) predicts that traditional off-the-job training will grow over the next few years, but only slightly - reaching an equilibrium with training that can be provided in-house or via cheaper alternatives by 2018.

Any business owner, director or manager knows that they have to understand customer needs, pains and wants – even before the customer knows it themselves, if they are to grow – or at the very least remain competitive.

Modern businesses have an array of touch-points that customers use to interact with them on a daily basis. Capturing all of the data generated through these interactions and storing it in a system which allows for in-depth analysis, the mapping of trends and identification of new opportunities can prove difficult. However, this is the fundamental foundation of any well-informed, data-driven growth plan.

Differentiating your training business on “brand” is now not enough, organisations need to establish an effective data infrastructure, which amalgamates data sets and delivers a single, clear and joined-up view of the customer. The insight that this data then delivers is where the real value is.

Leading training providers now use Training Management Software featuring powerful CRM functionality as the engine which drives this data-focused strategy. This data may reveal growth in a certain sector or particular learning delivery method.

Generating new business, converting enquiries and retaining key clients are the lifeblood of every training provider. Robust business intelligence also allows low risk decisions to be taken well in advance. Modern Training Management Solutions support you in developing additional revenue streams by enabling your organisation to build a complete view of your customers, right from initial enquiry through to completion of training and beyond.

Modern Training Management Solutions help you allocate the optimum sales resource to the right customers at the most effective point in the sales cycle, helping you retain key customers and win new accounts using the most efficient level of resource. Sales cycles can be shortened through the automation of customer communications, sales process management and lead tracking - resulting in effective lead conversion, opportunity development and accurate forecasting.

Your “Best” customers can be identified using a set of pre-defined criteria that you determine. The characteristics of these customers can then be profiled to reveal your “Ideal” customer, delivering valuable information that you can use to refine your marketing message, target new customers and grow your training business.

All of your customer information, including enquiries, bookings and tasks can now be stored in one secure, central hub and displayed on a configurable dashboard. Instant or permissions-based access can be granted, giving designated individuals visibility without the need to search for records across a number of disparate systems.

The latest Training Management Software empowers your employees to maintain comprehensive and up-to-date customer records. All correspondence linked to a new or existing customer can be attached to that customers’ record, allowing you to build in-depth customer history and profiling information. Contact strategies can then be set up to keep your customers informed about the areas they are interested in.

You can get by for a short while using your email inbox and calendar, or a limited legacy system – but eventually you will start missing opportunities and taking risks that you’re not even aware of. Even the great Steve Jobs once said that businesses needed to; “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” By following this advice, businesses can avoid rising admin costs, lowering profit margins and becoming alienated from their customers. Instead, new revenue streams are opened up, key customer retained and a more organised way of working created.

About the author

Stuart Banbery is part of the marketing team at Training Management Software. He can be contacted via stuart.banbery@achiever.co.uk

 

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