Diary of an on-line mentor

The
Internet promises to dominate our future. But what will a typical trainer’s job
really be like? We asked e-learning mentor John Agate to keep a diary of his
week

Monday

The
morning was spent reviewing learning progress reports for the participants
doing the new project management course. The message seems to be getting
through at last. Looks good – 75 per cent had completed the first two modules
and only 5 per cent had not completed the first one.

Automatic
e-mail reminders had been sent to these folk but I followed up with a personal
message to each myself. I feel it is important that they know I am keeping an
eye on them and that they can call me if they are having problems.

The
initial section of the second module was posing a few problems for several people,
so I sent out a general e-mail explaining the topic in an alternative way. Had
a number of replies saying that my e-mail had helped.

Forwarded
the whole lot to our e-learning partner who said they would incorporate my
notes in the module. (I checked on Tuesday morning and they were already up. I
can’t believe how fast we are able to change things these days.)

Monday
afternoon was fun. I moderated a virtual workshop on responding to difficult
customers as part of the customer care program. Participation was optional and
not everyone could spare the hour but 22 people logged on.

I
posed some real examples of upset customers from our welcome centre, and the
participants typed in their suggestions on how to respond to each customer.

I
sat back after a while as a discussion ensued with everyone critiquing each
other’s replies.

I
finished the exercise by asking a couple of the quieter participants to
summarise, which they did. I sometimes think that “quieter” actually means
“slower at typing” and in my job, it is good that I can type with more than two
fingers.

After
that, I had a meeting to prepare for a virtual discussion on using the
telephone to make sales appointments. Most people are happy with this topic but
a few seem to need a bit of help.

I
will speak to our e-learning partner about getting a couple of live video calls
included just to show them how it’s done.

Tuesday

I
got on-line early as people wanted to discuss some of the issues arising from
one of the sales training modules. There were a number of e-mails waiting for
me, all of which had been sent to the training group as well, so I started with
them. Good points were made by many of the participants and I think the
discussion enriched everyone’s understanding of the module on handling objections.

In
the afternoon, I “met” with marketing who want to carry out a product launch
using our e-learning system. A good meeting that drew training and marketing
closer together. I was able to pull out the key points about the new product
that the sales engineers would need to know about and put some potential
queries to the marketing people.

Marketing
will put up a draft page so that a few chosen ones can comment before it goes
live to all sales engineers about the middle of next week. Getting feedback this
way is really fast. (By the way, when I said “met”, it was a virtual meeting. I
didn’t actually go to the office this week.)

Wednesday

Late
start. I had planned to spend the evening moderating a virtual seminar on
setting objectives in management and so I spent the morning hitting some golf
balls up at the range.

In
the afternoon, I was on the telephone to three people who were a bit behind in
their studies. It is vital that you never let anyone get too far behind or they
cannot then participate with any success in the discussions. Other people get
too far ahead of them.

It
turns out that one lives only an hour from my home, so I popped over there late
afternoon. We actually moderated the seminar together from his computer which
not only ensured I did not miss my time but also, I think, motivated him to get
going again on his learning. A good day.

Thursday

A
delightfully “old-fashioned” day. A group of 20 sales people who had completed
the advanced selling skills course (and passed all the final tests) met at the
Bristol office and we did some role-plays. They knew what to do and thought
they would breeze it, but of course, but there is nothing like trying it out
“live”’ and getting some feedback.

We
had a lunch together and everyone got to know each other a bit better which is
important when you are on your own for many weeks at a time. Over lunch, I got
their views on the programme, some suggestions for improvement and asked them
to communicate with our e-learning provider.

In
the evening, I caught up with my own e-mail backlog and “chatted” to my boss.
With me in Winchester and her living in Liverpool, we seldom meet, but we keep
close electronically.

Friday

I
am playing golf because tomorrow is Saturday – always the busiest day. I will
be chatting to as many students as I can. First, I will be answering queries
and participating in a discussion on buyer types. Later, I will be moderate an
expert panel on critical path analysis for the development engineers.

Finally,
I will be reviewing some additional exercises on selling a product with a group
of students from Hong Kong. Since they are eight hours ahead of us, they will
be participating over breakfast while I will be in my dressing gown, ready to
go to bed. It has to be done this week as the local consultant we use to run
practice and feedback sessions will be meeting them all in Sha Tin next week. I
think I’ll lie in on Sunday!

John
Agate is UK Sales Manager for PrimeLearning (UK) Ltd – www.primelearning.com

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