First, it is important to point out that “customer focus” means something very different when talking about business to business (B2B) relationships, as we are here, versus B2C. Perhaps the biggest difference is that B2B relationships are forged over time, with the buying cycle often taking months instead of just moments.
As a firm that has been pioneering leading-edge customer focus strategies for three decades, here is how we define customer focus at Global Partners Training:
Customer Focus: A business strategy and organizational culture that emphasizes not only prioritizing the customer, but also cultivating a business relationship that includes ongoing discovery regarding their most important goals and objectives – along with a focused approach to using that knowledge to help contribute to their current and future success.
Customer focus philosophy is definitely built on a foundation of common sense. Think about it: Understanding your key customers well enough to offer ideas and solutions that help them cut expenses and grow their revenue is a sure-fire way to grow your business as well.
Traditionally, when dealing with a client request, the focus is on response. Yet imagine how the relationships would change if your customer-facing people were able to anticipate problems the customer is likely to have and address them before they occur. This first TCF™ skill — being proactive — has an extremely positive impact on the customer’s perception of your company as a trusted business partner.
GPT’s tools help participants shift from reactive to proactive by understanding and addressing the customer’s “Big Picture” and determining what they really want to achieve. Systematic proactivity is a powerful tool for increasing customer delight and customer success.
Customer-facing personnel frequently address visible technical problems only to discover later that a customer’s real underlying problem had been left unresolved. Getting down to “below the water line” issues (at GPT, we use the “iceberg” metaphor) results in better long-term management of customer problems.
GPT’s discovery tools enable your customer-facing people to gain an in-depth understanding of the sometimes hidden, non-technical issues that drive customer behavior. Your company benefits from greater empathy and trust, which increases in both directions between your customer and your team. Even the most difficult problems can then be resolved more quickly and with fewer escalations to higher levels of management.
Collaborative outcomes that are both reasonable and doable are key to any mutually satisfying relationship. To achieve this, your customer-facing people must learn how to “push back” on some customer requests in order to set realistic expectations, while satisfying your customers at the same time. Easier said than done!
GPT’s balanced outcome tools provide a framework for responding to any customer request in a way that creates realistic customer expectations without compromising your company’s fundamental interests. The communication tools give your people confidence and control and the ability to quickly gain the customer’s support and understanding.
At Global Partners Training, our faith in the effectiveness (and the ROI) of our training programs is supported by our decades of success working with major companies across a wide spectrum of industries and around the globe.
As part of our process, we ask clients to share anecdotes about how their GPT customer relationship training has led to real-world results. From a high-value communication breakthrough in Germany to a surprising anecdote in Korea about the power of “relationship equity,” these mini case studies describe actual outcomes experienced by Global Partners Training participants.
Here’s an example:
The High Value of a Communication Breakthrough
The Germany-based customer of a telecom network provider was demanding expanded scope and risk for an ongoing project, but was unwilling to pay for the additional work. By applying communication techniques learned in training to get to the heart of deeper customer issues, needs and goals, the service manager realized that the customer’s real concern was about financing, and that they would be willing to pay for the additional scope as long as the supplier could help finance the costs. This realization enabled the supplier and the customer to reach common ground and move forward to close a half-million dollar deal.
As mentioned, we have been laser focused on customer focus for several decades. So we know firsthand the value of training your team to work more closely with your customers to achieve win-win outcomes like those described above.
Although it is not possible to distill this business philosophy down into a series of “tips,” here are several of the most important ideas to keep in mind as your company explores making the shift to reap the benefits of being more customer focused.
• Aim to be more proactive than reactive with your customers.
• Optimize your customer relationship management (CRM) system.
• Dig deeper to discover your customers’ most important business needs and goals.
• Strive to understand each customer’s “Big Picture.”
• Seek ways to identify and solve customer problems before they even ask.
• Shift focus from just your KPIs to the customer’s KPIs.
• Prioritize customer relationship building.
• Embrace an organization-wide cultural shift.
• Invest in enhanced customer relationship training.
You get the ultimate in flexibility with GPT training programs. For each of our industry-leading customer relationship training programs, you can choose between two robust, complementary formats — blended or virtual.
Core knowledge and skill components are the same across both formats, and programs are delivered via: live training led by experienced facilitators (onsite and/or virtual); self-paced e-learning modules; peer coaching and optional individual coaching sessions; and individualized project work and role-play exercises tailored to real company challenges and opportunities.
Distinguished by an impressive track record of building next-generation customer relationship skills that hold the potential to transform your business, our time-tested blended training programs include both face-to-face and virtual components. Notable features of this format: Your team members are “in the room” with the instructor and fellow students. Full-day immersion. Flexibility to shift from blended mode to full virtual mode as conditions change.
Companies seeking fully virtual training options will want to explore our 100% virtual format. Virtual programs use interactive instructor-led webinars and self-service e-learning modules to lead participants on an exciting learning journey down parallel knowledge and skill tracks. Notable features: Smaller class sizes. Minimal time out of the field. Improved virtual communication skills. Convenience. Potential cost savings.
While the proprietary toolkit used in our standard Total Customer Focus™ program will be similar for all clients, the experiential components (role plays and cases) are custom-written based on interviews with key members of your team to achieve the following:
While all training materials remain the property of Global Partners Training, customizations are unique and are not shared between clients. Licensed program participants retain lifetime personal use of tangible program materials for ongoing reference.
Global Partners Training is ultimately focused on participants’ interpersonal skill acquisition and development, and therefore our programs make heavy use of live, interactive experiences.
The standard Total Customer Focus™ program contains live face-to-face workshops, a series of live interactive coaching webinars and self-study through e-learning modules. This carefully blended sequence, along with measurement and certification systems, virtually guarantees the embedding of new behaviors while holding total cost to the minimum required to get the job done well.
Live training time (workshops and coaching webinars) for a participant in the standard Total Customer Focus™ program totals approximately 40 hours, and the complete blended experience is typically spread over a three- to four-month period. This allows time for initial learning and safe practice, application of new skills on-the-job, iterative feedback and coaching, and demonstration of knowledge and skill acquisition with a real customer case situation of each participant’s choosing.
While nearly all clients choose the standard program, shorter-format programs targeting specific objectives and using a subset of the Total Customer Focus™ toolkit are possible and will also include a skill embedding process.
Striking a balance between cost and personal attention, the optimal training group size is 12 and the maximum is 15. Groups larger than 15 require an additional certified facilitator to be present during each workshop. Coaching webinars are run with a maximum of 5 or 6 participants per session, and therefore multiple sessions are scheduled for each training group.
Clients that have many physical locations with small teams in each location may opt for either smaller training groups (we suggest a minimum of 6 participants) or larger combined groups at a central location. We can help you evaluate the most efficient way to cover your desired participants.
To provide complete, consistent, turnkey service to large multi-national clients, Global Partners Training retains local facilitators in most major countries and regions and has delivered training in over 40 different countries in the past 2 years. To minimize costs, we typically deliver face-to-face workshops in your local corporate facility or at a local off-site conference facility.
Live coaching webinars via GoToMeeting require an internet connection and, in most cases, can be joined for audio-only using a country-specific phone number. Digital program components delivered via the Carli™ app (desktop or mobile) require an Internet connection.
While programs are delivered in English by default, experiential exercises are done in the local language of the participants. Currently, Global Partners Training has certified facilitators who speak the following languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. Other languages may be available soon, and so please check with us if you have a specific need.
Program materials, including presentation slide decks, videos, printed and electronic materials are provided in English by default. Complete or partial translations may be available for some programs at an additional cost. Global Partners Training is continually adding to its language portfolio as training volume warrants.
While pure product innovation will always give technology companies an edge over rivals, there is an unmistakable industry trend toward moving the customer to the center of corporate missions and operations – witness the rise of related concepts such as customer success, servitization, XaaS, etc. Customers are demanding integrated solutions, and with new pay-per-use availability or value-based pricing models coming to the fore, the initial equipment sale is no longer the end of the story for a salesperson.
Long-term customer retention and expansion requires product, sales and service teams to understand each other and work together to serve the ultimate customer’s goals. The experiential components of the Total Customer Focus™ program in particular lead salespeople to wake up to the reality that they are members of a team with a larger purpose and show them how to dialogue effectively with the external and internal customers, clearing roadblocks to excellent customer experience and new, sustainable revenues.
Global Partners Training scours the latest developments in learning technology through affiliations with training industry associations and by attending conferences such as DevLearn and ATD. As new technologies come online, we try them out and assess how they can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the face-to-face, live remote and self-service elements of our training programs. When someone invents a better mousetrap, we will not be afraid to use it to help your participants learn.
Program participants use our customized Carli™ app, currently supported by a Training Industry Top 20 platform company. Participants can view their training program progress, access e-learning modules and other learning resources, select their webinar sessions, and access other features via desktop and mobile app (iPhone and Android). If available for your program, this functionality is included in the program license fee during the program and for at least two full months past the date of the final live training event.
After certification and with sponsor permission, alumni of some programs are invited to access MyGPT, a free section of the www.globalpartnerstraining.com website where they will find helpful support tools, reminder cards, articles of interest, videos, free webinars and other helpful resources customized for their particular program(s) to keep their knowledge and skills fresh.
Global Partners Training is equipped to handle complete project management for training on a global basis, from booking training venues to scheduling, and emailing invitations and reminders. We strive to work seamlessly with your in-house resources, such as corporate universities and travel departments to keep costs to a minimum and enable the best training experiences for participants.
Our central point of organization for program and learning management is our customized Carli™ app, and while it does not typically make sense to fully-integrate with your internal learning management system, we can arrange to export participant certification data in any standard format.
Yes, Global Partners Training offers train-the-trainer programs with complete ongoing support. While most clients prefer the flexibility of a turnkey outsourced solution, in-house delivery can work when your company has experienced trainers on staff with idle bandwidth and you are ready to make a long-term commitment to the training program.
We will certify your trainers on the program, including experiential co-facilitation and observation-only facilitation, and provide ongoing support and updates to the program. Technology, e-learning and measurement systems are included. Please contact us if you are interested in exploring this option.
Global Partners Training strives to keep your total program cost as low as possible while delivering a complete, transformative program. Lower-cost programs without client-proven methodology, a true embedding process, proper measurement systems and a rigorous certification process are unlikely to yield the changes you are looking for.
Please keep in mind that your total program cost includes not only Global Partners Training fees, but also the cost of salary, benefits and any travel for your participants. We would be happy to help you assess the total cost and expected return for any training program. In our experience, clients typically achieve short-term returns on the order of 3-6 times their investment, and the embedded skills of your team will continue to pay dividends for years to come.
Global Partners Training fees are quoted after initial consultations to understand your program goals and requirements, and our fees are typically structured as follows:
Live training event fees – Per-event per-facilitator fee for each workshop, webinar or coaching session ensures you get a certified facilitator/coach with deep executive experience, often in your industry, who speaks the local language of each training group. Scheduling and logistics support are included, as needed.
Program license fee – Per-participant fee covers the following:
Expenses – Facilitator travel and living expenses and printing and materials costs are invoiced at actual cost (no markup or admin fee). We are happy to book travel through your corporate travel program if that is more economical.
Translation costs – Only as needed for non-English reading/speaking groups and invoiced at cost (no markup or admin fee).
Global Partners Training uses a state-of-the-art measurement system that operates at two levels:
To heighten your chances of training success, Global Partners Training maintains rigorous certification standards, a combination of program attendance, demonstration of skills, completion of key exercises and oral presentation of a final written case report that is validated by one of our company Partners. While certification will feel like a real achievement for your individual participants who earn it, and they will proudly display their colorful certificate, we at Global Partners Training focus intently on Certification Rate as the ultimate quality metric for our own team’s performance.
Relationship training is often more difficult and uncomfortable for participants than technical training, and our programs involve many steps. If participants are getting certified at a high rate, we can be sure our facilitators have connected well with your participants, encouraged them to follow through on attendance and assignments, and drawn out their best efforts. We can also be confident that participants have not only learned new knowledge and new skills, but that they are actively applying those skills on the job, and your company is getting the promised benefits of your training program.
Should you choose to work with us, you will likely hear a lot about certification. We have found that an important key to participant engagement and certification is top management and local supervisory support for the program, and we will encourage you to help build that support and accountability network.
Clients invest in Total Customer Focus™ for many different strategic and tactical purposes:
We believe a customer-focused culture creates its own success, and companies in technical industries that make customer relationship training a steady strategic priority are going to be the most resilient, long-term winners.