I'm new to instructional design

Oct 01, 2012

Hi board,

Firstly I would just like to say Hi! My name is Toby and I am pretty new to instructional design.

I have recently joined a team and we have a bit of a problem in that sales keeps coming to us and going "Here, analyse this and come back to me with something I can give to the customer as a quote'.

Now I am a big fan of Cathy Moore and the whole action mapping process. So content in this form is not really useful.

I have asked the sales team to come back with the answers to the following questions:

1.       Who is the client?

2.       What’s their goal with this training?

3.       Why are they doing this training?

4.       Whats missing in the current content that makes you want to re-purpose it?

5.       What is the solution we are providing? Full Instructional design? Just make it online?

6.       To what medium are you looking to port the content? Flash-based e-learning? A rewritten document? Some other format?

7.       What are the quality considerations? Ease of navigation? visual appeal? Other factors?

8.       How close or far are the current materials from the end state you are looking for?



So a lot of this will be familiar to you, but I am still stuck. What the hell am I supposed to do with the content to produce something that the sales team can go "This is what it will be and for this much!".



7 Replies
Bob S

Hi Toby,

It's simply unprofessional to reccomend a concrete solution without understanding the client's needs, let alone start to execute that solution. An architect wouldn't do it, a doctor wouldn't do it, a financial planner wouldnt do it.... and neither should we.

The questions you listed aren't bad, so perhaps you have process issue in your team. As a former sales professional, I can tell you that we salespeople tend to look for the "shortcut" and aren't always interested in process. But what we do understand is anything that negatively impacts the customer experience. We know the pain of recommending a solution that doesn't fit the customers needs. Try leveraing that idea with your sales team and maybe develop a new process where you or they can garner the information you need to offer the right solution... and everyone wins.

Hope this helps,


Bruce Graham

Hi Toby, welcome.

As a former Sales Operations/Sales Support person, I agree with Bob completely.

There is really a hell of a lot to this question, it's almost impossible for anyone to answer it.

It sounds to me like the Head of Sales (or whatever they are called...) does not understand what is being done "in their name".

Not sure I can add a lot more at the moment, as there are so many unanswered questions...

Are you being asked to come up with a "product", or could you just sell "...consultancy leading to a product"?


Holly MacDonald

Toby I think you've described that feeling every one of us has had some point in our careers - put a box around this "thing" and tell me how much it's going to cost. While Bob and Bruce have given you the right start, it sounds like there needs to be a bit more direction. Maybe you could work on developing some criteria, like: this seems like a process type course, and these solutions tend to look a little like this and range in price from x-y. Or, for awareness courses, we have found that pecha kucha works really well. It's tough to be gathering information indirectly, so you'll need to interpret some things from the content. 

Also, depending on the sales stage, you might need an earlier step in your sales process before you get to some of your questions that you've listed above. 

First - why training? 

Second - put it into a rough category (sounds like an awareness course)

Third - get into your details

I don't know if I've interpreted your question, but I hope this helps


Melita Farley

Hi Toby

I agree with what everyone else here has said.  This is something that unfortunately does happen from time to time!

The only other things I can add are a few more questions for your list focussed specifically on learners:

- Who are the learners? 

- What are the learners' current skill levels (i.e. are they completely new to this content?  is this a change to a current process?  are they all at roughly the same level, etc)

- Will this training be delivered during work time or are they expected to do it in their own time?

- What kind of technology do the learners use regularly (if this will be online or mobile learning) and do they have a basic level of technological literacy?

- Are the learners from one or more culture and/or one or more region and/or one or more country?

- Do any of the learners have hearing, vision, or movement impairments?

- What have learners' responses been to the current material?

In my experience, the more I can find out about who the learners will be, the more easily I am able to analyse whether an option will work for learners (and therefore the organisation).  It also means I can factor in anything specific (creating something accessible for those with hearing or vision impairments for example).

Finally - you might also want to ask a question about timeframes before providing a quote.  In some cases short timeframes can push up the costs.

Good luck!


Bruce Graham

Toby Hewitt said:

Thanks Holly and Melita, I really appreciate your insights. I have a long road ahead of me and it is comforting to know that I can always reach out to the wider eLearning community for help.

Holly: When you mentioned PechaKucha style for awareness training, is this still being delivered face to face?


Pecha Kucha can be done as an online format too, (see https://www.opensesame.com/blog/how-make-it-elearning-freelancer)

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