Recently I had the pleasure of speaking at Richardson’s event in Philadelphia. Richardson (www.richardson.com) is a top sales training company and focuses on sales performance and business impact for their clientele. I also had the honor of learning more about this 32 year old company from their senior management team and in meeting the founder, Linda Richardson.

Richardson has positioned itself as a sales performance company to a core audience of senior sales, HR, and talent executives. This conference was quite exciting for me because it was a blend of executives in different functions, which is unusual for a conference that focused on performance improvement. I gave a presentation and a workshop for close to 100 people with titles including Chief Learning Officer , VP’s of HR, Learning, Talent, Sales, Sales Effectiveness, and Marketing which allowed me a unique opportunity to connect with top individuals focused on improving performance.

Two years ago, Brandon Hall Group predicted that the traditional focus of HR and Learning would become more focused on things that actually matter, including increasing revenue and profitability, as well as a renewed energy in driving revenues from the traditional sales and marketing organization. For years HR and Learning have battled for a seat at the table, especially when it comes to budgets, and although these departments still face some of this battle today, that time should be coming to an end as companies continue to focus on performance improvement.

For those of you who would like to view the slides at this conference, Richardson has posted them here: http://www.richardson.com/Client-Forum/Client-Forum/.

At the Richardson event I had the opportunity to speak with a number of people across various roles and functions in organizations, but for all of them, the main focus is on business results. Major changes have been made in tracking and measuring information related to sales and training, and this information is a game changer. As information is more available, and easily tracked, this creates great opportunities for organizations. Every part of the organization wants to see results that prove what they are doing makes a difference in the marketplace.

As an analyst firm, we have seen ourselves at a number of recent events. This is certainly an interesting time to be an analyst firm because we get to learn more about companies and most importantly, the clients who are working to improve their organization’s performance. What is most exciting is that this event confirmed that we have an opportunity to provide more value to our clients based on the pace of change and the new mindset leaders have in working with the key areas in their businesses that drive performance, HR, talent management, learning and development, sales effectiveness, marketing impact, and executive management. For Brandon Hall Group, we believe these are the optimal ways to drive performance for our clients. As my presentation alluded to at Richardson, these areas should no longer be considered separate silos in order to better contribute to the overall health and profitability of an organization.

Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company's growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company's global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike's tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.

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