Here in the states, it is nearly Thanksgiving. A time to get together, relax and over gorge on food – whatever it might be. You watch a  couple of football games, normally including the lousy Lions (not this year, though) and grumble to yourself whether you should eat that last piece of pumpkin pie or not (I always eat it).

It is also a time to be thankful. Thus, it makes only sense to present my list of “thanks” from an e-learning perspective.

Before that however, I want to say thank you to those who rejected Ben Franklin’s idea of having the wild turkey as the national bird, rather then the American Bald Eagle. Whoever you are – Thank you!

High Five Thanks

  • Vendors who added innovative features including text to speech (way to go SoftChalk), to true HTML5 support (Claro, Cm-Studio, Rapid Intake, Toolbook and sort of HTML5 output – Lectora) to image editors, SDK kits, gaming sims and Sony PSP devices
  • Vendors who added robust feature sets in their LMSs – including ebook publishing, social media functionality beyond the same ol same, online/offline synch, podcasting, 3D worlds
  • Vendors who improved their customer service significantly including adding extensive multilingual support for their web site, products
  • Vendors who dumped desktop apps and went into the “cloud” – thank you, thank you

Thanks Again

  • Vendors who created their own integrated web conferencing tool, rather then charging end users extra to use their “partner” integrated one – achieved by having you purchase a separate license
  • Free widgets, plug-ins and apps for customers to use with their product(s)
  • Incorporation of Google docs, CRM (Customer Relationship Mgt), APIs (without charging a fee)
  • Acceptance that tablets are here to stay, especially the iPad and that end users will access content more so, then with a smartphone (Still waiting though for a vendor who is 100% pure tablets or a mix of PGP -Portable Game Players – and tablets)
  • Web conferencing vendors who offer month to month – this is growing and while many pitch it, very few really enable it to exist – rather they state it as such, but want you to pre-pay for the year – but you can still cancel anytime
  • The realization that HD for web conferencing isn’t that great and other features could be better served

Vendors who provide Mac OS support for their desktop content authoring tools

A partial list (extensive list in next guide to be posted Nov. 30)

  • Advanced Learning Solutions: PowerTrainer Professional
  • CourseLab – one of my top 10 RCATs and FREE
  • Delfi Software – Lersus EasyContent
  • DeltaLearn – DeltaLearn Advanced SCORM Editor
  • Kaplan IT Training – STT Trainer

A impressive thank you – for having a Mac app in the Mac Store goes to

  • Documedia – eLab 3.0: They are the first RCAT vendor to have an app in the Mac Store – this BTW is not the same as the iTunes marketplace or Apps directory

A Glorious Thank you – Equal to never having to watch the Colts again this year on TV (sorry Indy fans)

To all vendors offering trials: especially in the RCAT and LMS market (really the last two areas that were weak on it). Considering that offering a trial, increases the likelihood that the prospect will purchase your product, it still surprises me the number of vendors who are holding back from providing them.

Vendors who I have spoke to in the last three months regarding trials, I have seen an increase in sales, especially one who noted to me that customers who purchased indicated to them that one of the key factors was the trial.

An added thank you to those vendors (and you know who you are) who enable people to download or access a SaaS based trial without having to register for it.  Trust me, people love this.

Thank you for having demos without requiring someone to register. If someone is interested they will reach out to you.

Thank you to Vendors offering Discounts

In my current RCAT directory, three vendors are offering special discounts if you purchase their product. This is a free service to vendors and readers alike.  There is no quid pro quo for the vendors.

In the LMS directory (to be posted Dec. 1) four vendors are offering discounts – via promo codes. Again, 100% free for vendors to offer this to readers and of course, always 100% for readers to view and share.

One more Cheers!

To vendors who are going to post “demos” of their products on this blog starting in early December. No registration to view. Nothing. You click the video on this site and watch.

The demos can be up to five minutes and cannot contain any sales or marketing pitch. It is free to vendors to post and free to view. No quid pro quo or pay for play. I greatly appreciate vendors in the RCAT space and LMS space who see the value of providing “register free” demos without pitches, for readers to view.

They get it. I hope others will follow – trust me, people appreciate it.

And Now..

Not so Thanks – Rather Disgust

Anti-Registration for Trials/Demos

Hiding behind the register wall for a trial or a demo – makes no sense in today’s competitive market.

Rather then setting up roadblocks, you should be encouraging people to test and see without the perception of constant contact.  Unless your system or product includes a hidden theorem from Einstein that no one else knows about, there isn’t a single reason to create such blockades.

Public Webinars to view your product

Every customer is important, so why toss in a bunch of folks to view a public demo of your product. Believe it or not, they will not all have the same questions and many people will not ask anything for fear that it may contain proprietary information or information that someone else can use – I happens all the time.

In small group communication, even if there are just three people in a group – regardless if it is face to face or online, there will be people who will not ask questions. It has nothing to do with private info, etc., it is just the reality of small groups.

Schedule times for potential prospects to sign up for – and have it just for them. Do it twice a week with set times or once a week with multiple times that day. Again, the goal is to win customers not turn them off.

Failure to Properly Train your Sales People

I have seen a lot of demos. A lot. I must admit the one I viewed at the behest of a reader – takes the pumpkin pie and pecan pie or roll.

In this power packed 30 minute session, the co-presenters offered such items as:

  • Opened up with a joke (first time I have ever heard this on a product demo) – not only is this never recommended in face to face live presentations, but definitely not online – when you have no idea who you are talking to
  • Failing to show any of the admin side – granted it was an overview (which the reader who contacted me – was unaware), but not showing the one section that 100% of users want to know about – is bizarre
  • Seeming disinterested in their own product – as the reader told me afterwards, “they didn’t even seem to care about their product. I was expecting them to be excited about it. They weren’t”. The reader told me they were not moving forward with the vendor and cited this point as a key reason.
  • The 30 minute demo, actually was about 22 minutes. It was 22 minutes of a waste.
  • When they asked if there were any questions – a participant inquired about mobile learning – there was silent on the other end. Finally, one of the presenters said that yes you could view their system on a mobile browser. No offense here, but this is not mobile learning – seeing it on a tablet device does not qualify it as such – but, many vendors use this angle and call it mobile learning.

 Under that spin, then reading an ebook is the same as web based training.. After all, it is online. I can jump around to different pages or read it straight through. Depending on my reader, I can have TTS. Thus, it qualifies.  Uh, just a hint here – it isn’t.

Fear and Loathing on the Phone

A salesperson, for a very well known vendor who offers a solid talent management product, did the unthinkable when a reader signed up for their trial and had to register. The salesperson contacted them and went with an accusatory and anti-service approach.

In the discussion, the salesperson displayed a lack of respect to the reader, by asking extensive set of questions to assess whether the prospect should have access to the trial.

One of the questions posed by the salesperson is abhorrent.

The salesperson told the prospect that they had to have a web site in order to be considered. When the prospect asked why, the salesperson told them that:

  • Any legitimate business has a web site today and if you don’t then you are not a business and likely to be a fake
  • If you did not have the web site, you could not qualify for the trial

Reality Check

There are an extensive number of brick and mortar businesses, especially small businesses who do not have a web site.

To state that to a potential client is offensive. A goal of any vendor is to realize that their business is to acquire new customers and treat them with respect, not disgust.

Bottom Line

I am truly honored for your positive comments and feedback. 

I am equally grateful for you taking the time each week to read this blog and share with your colleagues, friends and associates.

You are the drivers in this industry.

I’m simply the passenger along for the ride.

Craig Weiss aka E-Learning 24/7