Win the Talent War – LearnCore with Ethan Linkner & Ryan Leavitt
LearnCore, a B2B company launched in Chicago in 2012, offers products for sales training and video coaching software. Ethan Linkner, co-founder and COO of LearnCore, and Ryan Leavitt, co-founder and CRO discuss innovative training, corporate culture, and staff retention to Win the Talent War.
Time-Stamped Show Notes
[00:00] Introduction of Ethan Linkner and Ryan Leavitt of LearnCore.
[02:25] Leavitt shares how their software solutions can help companies ensure they have uniform training procedures for all staff, and that they understand the product, the marketplace, and can implement what they have learned in their client contact.
[09:00] The certification process, practice arena, and employee testing to be sure they have a grasp of the concepts presented.
[13:50] LearnCore’s ideal employee embodies some key characteristics.
[18:40] Using hireology.com in employee selection, and a brief run-through of the interview and hiring process.
[21:04] Applicants for senior roles are required to do a formal presentation as part of the hiring process.
[22:00] Corporate culture at LearnCore ensures that the employee’s own career path is respected.
[24:30] Employee involvement and staff retention are key.
[31:00] LearnCore’s exciting growth and expansion plans for 2017.
Introduction to LearnCore and its Co-Founders
The three co-founders of LearnCore, a B2B company offering products for sales training and video coaching software, attended the University of Michigan together. Their first educational, company launched in December 2010, grew and “morphed” into LearnCore, which was launched in December 2012. Co-founders are Ethan Linkner, COO, Ryan Leavitt, CRO, and Vishal Shah, CEO. Linkner and Leavitt stop by Win the Talent War to discuss their innovative products, including user-friendly sales training and video coaching software, which are marketed to businesses. LearnCore is headquartered in Chicago, IL.
Innovative Training and Coaching Software Solutions
LearnCore’s mission statement is: “To improve employees’ performance and make companies more productive.” They do this through a new model in employee training. Old-school training for most companies consisted of being given an HR information packet to read, and clicking through training modules for a few weeks on the computer. Job-shadowing and individual one-on-one training with a manager would follow this, with the goal of having the employee ready to meet with clients, build relationships, and get the sale. “It’s all about learning the skills that would enable them to perform on the job,” explains Leavitt.
The problem with this old-school model is that today’s companies are not like they were back then. “There are complicated products, constant change, rapid growth, and much more. With those challenges, it’s extremely difficult to make sure everybody is on the same page, and that they can actually apply what they have learned. A lot of the learning was done informally. How do you formalize that? How do you make sure the salesperson who is new to the company actually learns everything about the company, the products, the competitors, the markets? Do they know how to answer questions, give demos, the list goes on and on.” Leavitt adds, “You have to make sure they know all that information, but if you’re a manager or you’re running the company, you don’t care how the team learned it, you just care that the team can apply it.”
Why Do Companies Need LearnCore?
LearnCore meets these challenges with their software solutions. First, they make sure that everyone gets the right information at the same time and that they can retain the information presented. And second, they help the company certify that teams can actually apply what they have learned. This can be through a variety of methods, such as virtual practice, coaching, and demonstrations. The combination of this twofold approach is considered to be the best learning methodology.
Training is provided in three parts. The first module helps them learn, “consume the information.” Second is testing to certify that they have absorbed the information, and the third part is a practice arena where they can practice their pitch, cold calls, demos, or face-to-face meetings. Better the employees make their mistakes in a virtual training setting, rather than in a live meeting with a potential client.
Who Is Your Ideal Employee?
Because LearnCore’s business is unique, there are not a lot of people with direct experience. They look for people who are “eager to learn, problem solvers who are solutions-oriented,” says Leavitt. “With just over 30 employees, while we’re growing quickly, if you have 33 employees, each person is 3% of the company, so to have people who are passionate about what we’re doing, that feel the accountability, and who we believe will still be here in 2 years, 5 years, and 10 years, is really critical.”
In order to identify staff that fit the bill, they ask a lot of questions at the interview stage. “There are many gray areas in a growing business that there is no protocol for, so we’re trailblazing, and we need employees who are willing to do that. We have been able to formalize those questions so we now know what to ask in the interview process.”
LearnCore is a firm believer in scouting talent from the Hireology website. They insist that their employees understand a little about every aspect of the business. For that reason, applicants interview with each team, not just their own department. They also rely heavily on employee referrals, as it furthers an employee’s personal investment when they bring someone else into the company.
“For the more senior roles,” Leavitt advises, “we make sure they go through a formal presentation. We need to know they can break down complicated problems into smaller bites that are actionable.”
Corporate Culture at LearnCore
They define their corporate culture as a “culture of growth.” Employees are encouraged to take on projects outside of their role, and they get to choose their own career path. It’s a level playing field with no private offices, not even for the partners. They all work on the floor together. Everyone has input as far as company goals and plans are concerned, so they automatically have a level of commitment and loyalty. They are passionate about their goals and are committed to staying and growing the company. Leavitt says that he makes sure the staff knows that they are working with them, not for them. They invest in their people, in training, and skills. In return, their team hold themselves accountable to meet their goals.
As a demonstration of the company culture, Linkner, Leavitt, and Shah recently made chocolate chip, blueberry pancakes for the staff, who relaxed and enjoyed it. “Culture,” advises Leavitt, “is what happens in the undefined space.”