Sales Performance International (SPI) offers sales training and professional development programs for sales professionals, managers and marketers at Fortune 500 companies.
Up until 2002, SPI relied on instructor-led sessions to teach its proprietary methodology. But changing times and the needs of Microsoft and other global customers prompted the company to offer e-learning programs in conjunction with its suite of instructor-led classes.
Since its founding in 1988, SPI has trained more than 600,000 sales and management professionals in Solution Selling. This approach offers an integrated way to help global companies make the transition from selling products to marketing and selling high-value solutions.
In late 2005, SPI made a decision to redesign its online courseware. Rick Judson, principal developer, said that by then, about 75 percent of customers were using SPI’s e-learning offerings as a pre-teaching complement to instructor-led workshops to speed up learning and reduce the time spent in live sessions.
“We realized we needed to get all of our intellectual property online and felt that it was time to improve upon our original e-learning,” Judson said.
The company began an effort to bring all its major instructor-led courses online and revamp its existing online courseware.
Rather than hiring courseware developers internally, SPI looked outside for e-learning content development and translation work. SPI selected Lionbridge, which it had encountered as a translation partner for its work with Microsoft.
Several factors drove the SPI effort. The company had developed additional content since its online debut in 2002, and it had developed additional tools to support the core Solution Selling methodologies. SPI also wanted to improve the level of student interactivity and improve the integrated instructional design.
“We needed the content to flow better from one module to the next,” Judson said. “We wanted a more engaging presentation — a new look and feel. We also needed to do this in a way that was easier to customize for our clients and easier to translate.”
A key element in its project requirements was the ability to leverage offshore courseware developers to keep budgets reasonable.
“I did not know how sophisticated and creative offshore talent was,” Judson said. “That was a concern going into the project, and we requested onshore resources for instructional design and project management. We thought maybe that would lead, over time, to offshore project management, but that actually was already happening by the time we were 75 percent of the way through the first project.”
Today, outsourcing services are no longer limited to IT. Talent pools in lower-cost regions are broader and deeper than ever. In light of the gains IT departments have experienced through using offshore resources, other business departments are finding they can gain similar benefits.
Judson said using offshore courseware development has led to content more suited to the localization needs of a global audience.
Just as important is the continuous development process that results from using offshore resources, Judson said.
“For instance, we create content here and send it to them, and by the end of their day in India, which is the beginning of our day here, they’re ready for us to review their part of the work and decide on next steps,” Judson said. “We then carry on with our part during the day here, continuing the cycle with them the next morning.”
The result is a shorter development time that would not be possible using an organization based only in the United States.
“The bottom line is that we’ve designed courses that can be easily customized and localized,” Judson said. “As we go forward, I’m sure we’ll be able to address our growing global client base with effective, interactive e-learning tailored to meet their needs.”