Welcome to my first blog dedicated to our supplier community! I hope this blog will keep you informed about the latest trends and best practices in the learning community so that you can have more effective and meaningful conversations with your clients (our members) and recommend the right solutions for them.

Many of you work with our partner ̶ Network Media Partners (Ben, Mark, and Katy). They do a fantastic job supporting our exhibitors, sponsors, and advertisers. NMP asked if someone within ASTD could share with our supplier community the hot topics and trends that impact our members directly. We thought it was a great idea, and hope you think so too.

Confession: I am in sales too. I have been Director of Sales for ASTD since 2008 and I have enjoyed every minute of it. My favorite part of the year is seeing the exhibit hall come to life at our events. You put so much into making this a tremendous experience for our attendees and hopefully you consider it a good experience too.  I want to help you make the most out of your investment.

One way I can do this is to pull out tidbits from our research that can help you when communicating with your clients. I’ll start by sharing some highlights I found interesting in our recent Developing Results: Aligning Learning Goals and Outcomes with Business Performance Measures research report.

We continue to hear that learning organizations are focused on how they can have a positive impact on overall business goals, in fact:

  • 90 percent of learning practitioners say that business and learning goal alignment is very important to them.
  • 66 percent of survey respondents say their individual compensation is tied to alignment at least to some extent, and high performers are far more likely to employ the practice.
  • But less than half of organizations surveyed say they have learning functions that excel at accomplishing the very things they exist to do.
  • Only 43 percent indicate that their organization’s learning function is highly effective at achieving learning goals.

Isn’t this astonishing? Our profession knows that aligning with the organization’s overall goals is important, and in many cases their compensation is tied to this, but less than half are doing it well. Of course, this may not be so surprising when you consider organizations have only recently begun putting more pressure on learning organizations to prove their value and ability to help meet overall business goals.

So how can your solutions help them align with and attain the organization’s business goals? Do the questions in your needs analysis uncover how you can help them excel at the very things they exist to do? It all comes down to performance.  Those who do a good job now aligning their solutions and asking the right questions in their needs analysis know the quality of the conversation improves and the ability to get to the true decision maker also improves. So, think out of the box and tie your products to what really matters to our members, and you will no doubt see great results.

One final note: even though our conference in Denver ended a couple of months ago, we are full steam ahead planning for ASTD 2013. I can’t believe we are 10 months away from our 2013 International Conference and Expo and more than half of the show floor is already reserved! We thank you for your continued support, and judging by our re-sign rate you see value from our conferences.

My hope is that we can use this blog to share the current issues and challenges our members face and provide insight into ways you can support them.  And just as important, I’d like to hear from you about ways ASTD can best support you to accomplish this goal.