During roughly the past 20 years, video security supplier Pelco has grown its business exponentially. In fact, since 1987 the organization’s portfolio of products has grown to include more than 5,000 today. According to former Manager of Training Services Stephanie Ackley, much of Pelco’s expansion was achieved by increasing the strategic value and scope of the company’s learning and development organization to empower its growing global customer base and reseller channel through education.
“We believe so strongly that training really strengthens and enables our customers and our dealers to support and resell our products,” Ackley said. “That’s why Pelco pays for their training, pays for their hotel, pays for their meals while they’re training at one of Pelco’s training facilities, pays for all the training materials and whatever else they need during their training.”
Much of Pelco’s education is delivered through one of the company’s seven worldwide Video Security Institutes (VSIs). At the VSI locations, training is primarily delivered through instructor-led sessions; however, the course objective determines whether real-life exercises, lab exercises or case studies are employed as well. “We do everything from general sales-type training including value-based selling and marketing-type training because many of these folks are small- to medium-sized companies that work in a particular area, and this helps them develop their sales forces. Then we have a very strong product-training contingent that includes everything from our product overview courses to our courses on digital solutions, which are all of our digital video recorders,” Ackley explained.
To date, Pelco has educated and trained more than 20,000 customers and dealers through the VSI facilities. VSI training at the company’s headquarters in Clovis, Calif., according to Ackley, also gives customers and dealers a sense of the Pelco culture, which she described as a “100 percent fanatical customer service culture.” “When people come to a VSI facility, they get completely engulfed by the Pelco culture, and that’s one of Pelco’s key goals with VSI education,” she said.
Pelco delivers training through field training and e-learning as well. Most field training targets groups of eight or more professionals. Ackley said, “Our field-training group does instructor-led training in the field. The field training is the equivalent to the training that we have at our VSIs, but it’s more convenient for the customer and it doesn’t overwhelm our seats at the VSIs. So for example, ADT Security Services, a provider of electronic security systems and services, would need hundreds of people trained on a regular basis. So rather than have them all fly to our locations, we’ll travel to their locations with the equipment as well as training materials and exercise items.”
For Ackley, e-learning handles knowledge-based training best whereas face-to-face training handles ability-type training better. “If you think in terms of curriculum development, you have knowledge, skills and abilities. E-learning can handle knowledge, and it can handle some skills, but it really can’t handle abilities. So when it comes to abilities, we have to have face-to-face interaction with learners,” she explained. “But we are increasingly working on adding more and more things to our cadre of e-learning classes because this gives us the opportunity to expand our reach even more and again, empower our customers and dealers through education.”
According to Ackley, the implementation of e-learning courses, which are offered through the company’s Web site, has boosted its reach to more than 92 countries worldwide. “We have people signing in to our e-learning from 92 countries worldwide. And that includes places we just couldn’t possibly reach — whether it’s them coming to our VSI locations or us performing field training. So it is just phenomenal that we are touching people that we would have never otherwise touched,” she said.
During Ackley’s eight years with the company, Pelco has continued to place a strategic emphasis on the importance of training both for its internal and external customers. “The training organization has grown because I was able to show a direct bottom-line relationship between training and revenues.”
In fact, Ackley said Pelco realized a 10 percent increase in revenues last year. “This really helped me get support for additional trainers, additional tools and implement more e-learning over the last two years.”
Pelco is also looking to expand its reach even further globally by building new VSI locations in Madrid, Dubai and possibly Australia, as well as by developing more simulative e-learning. “The training services team consistently develops and delivers professional training solutions enabling those that interact with Pelco products to use and support them successfully. We firmly believe that the more aware customers and dealers are of what we can do and what our products can do, the more likely they are to specify our product thereby making everyone more successful in the end.”
–Cari McLean, firstname.lastname@example.org