Module 3: Communicating Value to Businesses

In Module 3, you will learn how to communicate the benefits of VR services to businesses in order to effectively promote the employment of people with disabilities.

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Transcript of Module 3

The Center on Knowledge Translation for Employment Research, KTER, housed at the American Institutes for Research is proud to present the Business Outreach Training. This is Module 3, Communicating Value to Businesses.

Welcome to Module 3 of the KTER Center's Training for Business Outreach. We'd like to thank the National Employment Team for their help in the development of this training.

I'm Linda Hedenblad and I'll be your instructor. In this module, we'll discuss ways to communicate value to businesses, why it's important, and how to do so in ways that effectively promote VR services.

As discussed in our previous modules, maintaining an effective relationship with business involves more than "selling" them on the benefits of VR services. It really starts with a strong relationship that's built on trust and understanding-- that includes an understanding of the business and their needs.

Once you have a clear understanding of a business's needs, you can effectively communicate the value of VR in a way that's meaningful. In this module, we'll look at the why and the how of communicating to businesses the benefit of working with VR.

We'll also introduce strategies that you can put into practice right away. Let's explore the important elements of business outreach. You ready? Here we go.

Remember from the previous modules that we first present the research and then we turn to a practitioner perspective. Staying with that approach, we'll jump right in with a look at what the research says about communicating value of VR services to businesses.

First, let's look at why it's important to communicate the value of VR services to businesses. There is a strong need for advocacy of people with disabilities with businesses, which includes conveying the benefits of hiring a person with a disability.

Businesses tend to be more concerned with the employability of a person with a disability at the recruitment and selection stages than they are at the accommodation stage, so translating the benefits of hiring and using VR services early on is important to your strategic approach in working with businesses.

Research tells us that businesses are more knowledgeable about disability related topics, such as ADA and accommodations, that those businesses tend to hire people with disabilities. This suggests that educating businesses on these topics and how VR can add value to their business can positively impact the hiring of candidates with disabilities.

So how do we go about communicating the value of VR services? Research tells us that we should be strategic in our approach and do homework in advance. For example, seek out the businesses that are most likely to be effective partners with VR.

Target businesses that have the highest number of employment opportunities, meaning those with the greatest hiring potential. Focus on businesses that are receptive to hiring people with disabilities and that have a supportive work climate that really promotes diversity.

Also, look for businesses that see VR as an asset and are willing to hire people with disabilities. Try to find businesses that already have employees with disabilities, even if businesses are not aware that they do.

It's better to work with businesses that already have systems in place for employing people with disabilities. This is where your research savvy can serve you well. Find out which businesses fit these characteristics.

This will help you target your outreach and communication efforts to those with the greatest likelihood for a successful collaboration. In order to effectively communicate the value of VR services to businesses, you should learn about the current labor markets.

Understanding labor markets can help you create the framework for designing and implementing VR services for businesses. In addition, give advice in a way that demonstrates an appreciation for the production demands that businesses face.

This recommendation comes directly from focus groups of businesses that were asked about challenges of hiring employees with disabilities. Next, find the intersection of the businesses’ needs, your candidates’ strengths, and the job requirements.

Then, try to communicate this to business in a way that builds trust and shows professionalism. The final point we learned from research is to tailor your approach. For example, think about the size of the business when you develop a plan for how to deliver services to them.

This is especially true for any services that may have barriers to hiring and retaining individuals with disabilities. It's also true for providing disability related information and resources to businesses.

It's helpful to identify and contact businesses that have jobs that are expanding, that are hard to fill, or that are easy to accommodate. Be aware that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to engaging with businesses. Instead, customize your approach for each business.

You should do this based on the unique contribution of both parties, the business, and your candidates for employment. As the past few slides have demonstrated, communicating VR's value to businesses is important and can be done strategically, maximizing the success of your working relationship with the business.

As we now turn to the practitioner’s view, keep in mind what we covered from the research. Combining the insights from both of these arenas may provide new ideas on engaging with businesses. We hope it ultimately helps you to be even more effective in your business outreach.

Now the practitioner’s voice on communicating value to businesses. Recall from Module 2 the strategies for business outreach. These strategies are useful to the work you do, so I may refer to some of them more than once.

In this module, we'll focus on strategies that apply to communicating VR's value. Because communicating VR's value is a rich topic, this module will look at many of these strategies.

It's important to remember that conveying the value and benefits to businesses is about more than “selling” them VR services. If you want to have a successful relationship with business, think of them as a customer and a partner.

This means adopting a business mindset—understand their needs and see things from their perspective. Part of applying this dual customer approach means using the language of business and avoiding the VR jargon.

If there is a business term you're unsure about, just ask. Remember, you want to build trust. Listen, don't judge. You want businesses to ask tough questions so you have the opportunity to overcome what they might think is a barrier.

Update your terminology to show that you're thinking about things from the business's perspective. On the screen are a few examples of terms you should consider using (in bold) followed by the terms you might be accustomed to using but should really try to avoid.

For example, you might be used to referring to a company you work with as the “employer”. However, the term “business” is better because it incorporates a broader view of companies. They aren't just employers, they're businesses. Remember that a business's purpose is not to employ people with disabilities but to function as a business. So, they are businesses first.

Another example is to use the term “hire” instead of “placement” when referring a candidate to being hired for a job. The word “placement” could imply that VR is placing a candidate in the job rather than the business hiring that person the way they hire every other qualified candidate. It puts a prospective back on the business side acknowledging that they make the decision. It avoids any potential implications that the candidate is somehow less qualified than other candidates who aren't using VR services.

Adopting language like this sets the tone for a successful partnership. It incorporates the business's perspective and will help you to communicate the value of VR more effectively. Remember, speak their language.

Other strategies for communicating the value of VR include sharing, planning, and delivering. First, share examples of how other businesses you've worked with in the industry are doing. Share the models that you're using along with the challenges and success stories.

Build a plan. To do this, you need to know the key points of how to build a plan, understand the goals of the business and what they've already done, find out who else is working with the business at a state or national level, and what you can learn from their experience.

Finally, make sure you deliver what you commit to. Think about what VR and other partners can provide to make this a success. If the business of a national footprint, how can you leverage the NET to help you deliver.

Add these strategies just to your toolkit and use them when you work with business. Doing so can help you improve the VR business relationship and communicate the value of VR services more effectively.

In conclusion, let's briefly review what we've learned. In this module, we've explored communicating the value of VR to businesses. First, we looked at what the research says about the importance of communicating value to businesses. Remember that businesses are more likely to hire a candidate if they have a relationship with VR.

We also reviewed ways to communicate the value of VR to businesses. Contact businesses strategically and demonstrate that you understand the labor market and the production demands of their business. Tailoring your approach to each business will help you maximize your effectiveness at communicating VR's value.

We then turn to the practitioner's perspective. Adopt the business's perspective and use the language they use when talking about how VR services can benefit business. Also, share other work you're doing, build a plan that's tailored for success, and leverage your resources to deliver what you commit to.

We hope the information provided in this module is helpful for you. We encourage you to put the tools into practice this week as you continue to help businesses see the value that VR brings to them and the people that they employ

You've completed Module 3. There's only one more module to go, so you're almost there. References are available on the following slides. When you're ready, you may close this presentation and take the knowledge check to be eligible for the final module. From all of us, a big thank you.

[Note: the learning check has been removed.]

Click here to proceed to Module 4.