Did You Do Your Homework? (Due Diligence)

WRITTEN July 9, 2020 Author: John Epstein

The term “due diligence” is most often thought of in a legal or business context. Merriam-Webster defines due diligence as:

Lawthe care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons or their property.

Businessresearch and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction (such as a corporate merger or purchase of securities).

But what does due diligence have to do with the world of corporate learning? As it turns out, plenty. Let me give you an example.

The plan was to run a fully immersive, multi-day sales program for a tech company. The hope was that this would be the first of many programs for this group. So, how to prepare? The course agenda was set and we had a manual, so what else was needed?

I spent time researching the client’s products, the industries they serve, their strategy, financial performance, news about the company, the leadership team, and even the competition.  

This “due diligence” research was done over the course of a week, I took maybe 30-60 minutes a session. (Thank you Google and LinkedIn.) I also spent time reviewing my notes before running the program.  The benefits:

  • The ability to “speak the client’s language” shortens the time it takes to establish credibility with the participants,
  • Due diligence provides the knowledge and insights to tailor content to specific challenges and needs, and
  • The audience is more engaged in the activities and discussions, since the content is connected to their “world”.

One participant wrote on the evaluation, “He knows so much about our company, why isn’t he a sales manager here?” That comment was very flattering. Even more flattering was the amount of subsequent business that was done with this client.

Perhaps you noticed one thing not mentioned to this point; due diligence on the participants themselves, because I knew who I was teaching that day. LinkedIn provided answers to the following questions: 1) How long have they been in their current or similar roles? 2) What is their background? 3) Are there commonalities to our backgrounds? 4) What else piques my interest?

Research showed this was a highly experienced group, and that changed my approach. Expectations were managed up front. (“Don’t worry. This isn’t Selling 101!”) I used examples that were more in-depth and complex, and used activities adapted to their level of expertise.

Performing and applying my due diligence enabled an open learning environment and a more successful outcome than would have been achieved otherwise. 

Of course, not every situation needs the depth and breadth of research that was done in this example, but every client deserves that you understand their people and their business. 

Ultimately, it all comes down to being prepared. Even a detective going to interview a suspect makes sure to do their due diligence to have as much background as possible. Information and understanding benefits everyone involved.

Having a knowledge of your audience builds confidence in your message, and whether it is for that big sale, landing a new client, or even teaching an Improving Communications sales class, that information will serve you and your customer well.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay
This information is discussed in our Selling Skills ► Into Action curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our upcoming public classes or webinars

Other Resources:

Definition of Due Diligence in training industry.

Human Due Diligence

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