How Much Does Custom Training Cost? It Depends!

So, you’ve decided off-the-shelf training no longer meets your company’s needs. Maybe you need to teach your employees about a complex system or product, or maybe you have specific customer service behaviors you need to demonstrate. Or, maybe it’s time for your training to match your company culture. In each of these examples, custom training solutions are definitely the right move. So, how much does custom training cost?

Well, it depends!

Something that’s custom-built for you rarely comes with a standard price tag. It all depends on what you want and need.

It’s a bit like remodeling a kitchen.

Let’s say you want new floors, appliances, cabinets, and countertops. When you ask the contractor for an estimate, two things probably happen next:

  • The contractor doesn’t give you an exact figure right away.
  • Instead, he or she asks you a few more questions.

While this might slow you down in the short-term, it’s a sign the contractor cares about your vision. After all, there are countless options for customization. Do you want tile floors? Linoleum? Do you need top-of-the-line appliances? What type of wood do you want for the cabinets? Are you interested in granite counter tops?

When you talk with a custom training partner, it’s no different, and if you can bring some key specs to the table, the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Use the framework outlined below to break down your vision and get an accurate custom training estimate.


To get a better idea of how much your custom training project may cost, start thinking about the specifics. A custom training partner will ask you questions like this:

  1. How many topics do you need to cover? Will you focus on just a few topics, or do you need to create an entirely new program?
  2. Are you teaching knowledge, skills, or behaviors? If you’re teaching knowledge, a self-paced format could be the right approach. If you want learners to build new skills, they need a way to practice and get feedback. If you’re changing behaviors, your strategy will need a leadership component.
  3. How complex is the subject matter? Some custom training projects require more up-front analysis than others. Do you need a quick, fun hype video to encourage participation, or do you need to train employees on a highly complex product or system?
  4. What’s the right level of fidelity? Not all videos can be shot on an iPhone or a GoPro. Sometimes you need a full production crew, equipment rentals, and professional actors. Think about the ROI you’re after, and invest your dollars in your most high-impact content. The right training partner can produce a polished, exciting video that has that wow factor.
  5. How evergreen will the training be? Is this project “one and done,” or will it require ongoing maintenance? And, who do you want to be responsible for the maintenance–your internal training team or your training partner?
  6. What interactivity will you include? Should your content be highly interactive and immersive–with simulations, games, or even virtual reality? The more interactive the content, the more you’ll want to budget.

Consider Different Modalities

A major driver of cost is the modality–or training format–you’re interested in. In most cases, the subject matter will determine the best modality.

Make sure your training partner has a reputation for making helpful, strategic recommendations about your options. Here are some thought-starters you can use to identify benefits and costs of different modalities:


  • What type of seat time do you envision? A few hours? Two days? Three weeks?
  • Will the training be facilitated in-person or virtually?
  • Will you need any videos to support your facilitated content?
  • Do you need any quiz or assessment content to confirm learning?
  • Will pre-work and/or refresher training be part of your strategy?


  • Are you interested in using any live action video content or animation in your eLearning modules?
  • Does your LMS support the type of eLearning experience you want?


  • Are you planning any systems training that requires a screencast?
  • Do you prefer a simple animation style, or something higher-fidelity like 3D?

Live action video

  • Do you have a general sense of the video length you’re interested in?
  • Would you rather use professional actors or your own employees?
  • Do you need to shoot the video in a specific location?

Custom training is personalized, engaging, and it gets results. In the end, the up-front time you spend to find the right custom training partner and articulate your vision will pay off.

It’s just like any great home improvement project. You have countless options, but the right contractor can turn your dream into a reality–and help you budget along the way.

So, how much does custom training cost? It depends! Use our framework to identify some specifics, then work with your training partner to choose the best modality and put together an estimate.

Webinar: 3 Challenges That Limit Your Training Engagement (And What to Do About Them)

At ATD 2017, we asked people who visited our booth to share their top training challenges. When we compared notes, one thing was clear: everyone wants their training to be more engaging.

So, we returned from the conference and hosted a free webinar, 3 Challenges That Limit Your Training Engagement (And What to Do About Them). Good news: if you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording below. It’s conversational, informative, and full of actionable tips to help you engage leaders, learners, and SMEs like a rockstar.



Follow along with facilitators David Williamson and Rick Lloyd as they share expert insights that will help you:

  • get leadership invested to create a culture of learning
  • engage tough SMEs to generate content that scales
  • follow up effectively to defeat the forgetting curve

After all, for a training program to stick, it needs the support of engaged leaders and subject matter experts. Watch the webinar, and find out how to align stakeholders across your organization more effectively to boost retention and create meaningful change.

Learning Has Changed. Has Your LMS Kept Up?

Four decades ago, employees slogged through printed training manuals accompanied by the occasional slide carousel show. Today, cutting-edge training is conducted via high-quality video content on mobile devices. We’ve come a long way from those dog-eared three-ring binders!

As training advanced, the learning management system (LMS) emerged in the 1990s as a tool to manage organizational learning programs. But now that training is accelerating into a more mobile, social, and connected experience, do you see your LMS as an innovative tool that simplifies training and makes it more engaging, or a clunky obstacle employees must overcome to find what they need?

Your learning platform should engage and inform. If your LMS can’t do that, you have a training problem. And it won’t be long before that becomes a business problem.


LMS Satisfaction: Lukewarm at Best

According to Brandon Hall Group’s 2015 Learning Technology Trends survey, 85% of companies surveyed use an LMS, but “LMS satisfaction” seems to be an oxymoron:

  • 38% of companies are actively looking to replace their LMS
  • 31% of companies said they would not at all recommend their solution to colleagues
  • 20% said they would not renew

That adds up to an astonishing 89% of companies seeking a new training platform.

The oft-heard complaints about your LMS: it’s too clunky, too expensive, employees hate it. And the clincher: “It’s too complicated! I can’t find what I need when I need it. Why can’t training be easy to access?”

Brandon Hall sums it up:

“A system that is difficult to navigate causes frustration and can even impact the completion and effectiveness of the learning it’s supposed to be delivering.”

Ranking dead last in Brandon Hall’s satisfaction survey was whether respondents thought their LMS has the ability to meet future needs. The score: a dismal 2.57 out of 5.

Organizations are unsure of their LMS’s ability to satisfy future training needs. Let’s gaze into our Training Crystal Ball to determine if your organization’s LMS can handle them.

What Modern Training Looks Like

In our modern world, learners consume high-quality content and videos daily. Bland training courses can cause an eye-rolling epidemic. To help knowledge stick, today’s learners need high-quality, modern training content that keeps them engaged.

So, what does modern training look like? Take a look at ATD’s Learning Trends for the Next 5 Years for a good starting point. Learning should be adaptive, social, delivered in short bursts, immersive, and include gamification to make it – dare we say – fun.

And here are the training trends our readers are watching in 2017, which compare favorably with ATD’s 5-year-outlook (we typically move a little faster than average).

This is where learning is going. Stop for a minute and think about these two questions:

  1. Does your training content stack up?
  2. Can your current LMS support these trends?

Should an LMS Handle More than Just Training?

Traditional LMSs only house training. Users log in, complete their training, and log out. Admins log in, analyze who’s completed their training, nag those who haven’t, and log out. Lather, rinse, repeat.

If that’s all your LMS accomplishes, it’s outdated and ineffective. Today’s learners expect – and deserve – more.

To step into the modern era of training, organizations need more than just a way to deliver training and track completion. They need:

All training materials in one place. A single platform to host all the content employees need to be effective in their roles ‒ training; job aids; product information, updates, promotions; etc. Put everything at their fingertips and make it easy to access.

Collaboration tools. Allow your learners to connect with one another to keep the learning going. Social learning doesn’t just make learning fun. ATD points out that social learning enables rock star employees who engage and inspire those around them to significantly widen their circle of influence – with no travel expenses.

Simplified communication. Training is not a one-sided conversation. Your learning platform should make it easy to communicate targeted, visual, and engaging updates to the frontline without sending yet another email.

Motivation and rewards. Modern employees, especially sales professionals, love a little friendly competition and being rewarded for performance. Use gamification to keep employees engaged throughout their learning journey.

Imagine what would happen if people were actually engaged in their training. Imagine if everything your employees needed related to their training and job performance was in one location. Imagine if all of the above tools existed in one platform. Imagine!

We Knew There Had to Be a Better Way

So that’s why we built Spoke. With Spoke, easy access to all of these tools in one simplified, compatible platform isn’t just a figment of our collective imaginations anymore. It’s real.

Folksinger and social activist Pete Seeger said it best:

“Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.”

Sure, Spoke was named a top LMS in eLearning 24/7’s annual Top 50 LMS report in 2015, 2016, and again in 2017. But companies using Spoke are the ones seeing real results.

“Improved performance for every employee…”

“It’s intuitive. Nothing is buried.”

“It makes my job a lot easier.”

Oh, not to mention it gets used up to 4X more than traditional learning management systems.

Let’s Connect

Is your organization ready to change as learning evolves to the next level? Can your learning platform keep up?

When you’re ready to discuss modern training and a high-performance platform that does more than just deliver that training, contact us or give us a call: (888) 723-9770.

5 Learning & Development Trends to Watch in 2017

Update: Check out our list of 2018 training trends to watch.

It’s January. Prime time for predictions about the corporate training landscape. In 2016, we highlighted shared goals, collaboration, and analytics as topics of interest. This year, instead of telling you what we think the year’s big trends will be, we went straight to the source ‒ you! We polled our audience: “What L&D trends are you watching in 2017?”

2017 Learning and Development Trends to Watch

We asked. You answered. Now, we deliver.

Here’s what’s on your collective radar:

1. Microlearning. Training in bite-sized, easily digestible chunks.
2. Personalization. Make training individualized and contextual ‒ so it sticks.
3. Employee Engagement. Wowed employees are happy employees.
4. Measurable ROI. How impactful is your training program?
5. Marriage of great content + great technology. Deliver awesome content – awesomely.

Now for a deeper dive into each trending topic and what percentage of you picked each topic.

69% Donut Chart

Microlearning: shorter courses and more of them says our average attention span in 2015 was 8.25 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000, when mobile went mainstream. In addition to having an attention span lower than the average goldfish (Goldie clocks in at 9 seconds), learners are busy.

Delivering training in bite-sized chunks is key. With shorter courses divided into more segments, employees are empowered to learn at their own pace. They gain valuable information with minimal disruption to their workflow.

Adding mobility to microlearning enables users to train anywhere, anytime. And on the go. That autonomy combined with entertaining, informative content helps learners retain knowledge in a simple, easy-to-remember way.

Hungry for more? Check out this post on using microlearning for sales training.

49% Donut Chart

Personalization of training


Personalizing the learning journey for each specific job function ensures that learners get the information they need without wasting valuable time. For example, an inside sales rep requires different knowledge and skills than an outside sales rep. Their personalized training journeys should reflect that.

Learning is contextual. Employees want their training to look and feel like their day-to-day encounters, so they can see exactly how to apply new knowledge and skills situationally. This improves productivity, performance, sales – and therefore, your bottom line.

In addition to personalizing for job function, training should be customized to mirror your organization’s particular values and culture. Keep it conversational and sprinkle some humor around.

Unique, contextualized training that informs and entertains gets a thumbs-up from employees and superior results for your company. Win-win.

33% Donut Chart

Focus on employee engagement

Fact: highly engaged employees are more productive and less likely to job-hop. That’s critical because employee turnover costs big bucks. Some studies suggest replacing a salaried employee costs six to nine months of their annual salary. A CAP Study found that losing a high-level employee can cost up to 213% of their annual salary. Plus, it tanks employee morale.

Churn is bad. So how do you poach-proof valued contributors?

Increased employee engagement is key. If you think another three days of PowerPoint presentations will get your team amped, think again.

Instead, give employees something they will actually look forward to. Innovative, high-tech training ‒ like the media they consume on YouTube and Facebook in their spare time ‒ holds their attention and boosts retention rates.

We’ve found that instilling gamification, interaction and socialization into your training – maybe even virtual reality – boosts employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Smart content fuels discussions as learners compare best practices. They evolve into champions who bolster your organization. Collateral benefit: elevated employee morale.

33% Donut Chart

Measuring training ROI


Increased completion rates are great, but let’s talk about the measurable business impact of training. What’s your training ROI? How does training correlate with and impact key performance indicators?

The general benefits of training are undisputed: greater productivity, improved customer retention, increased sales, higher employee engagement and decreased churn. But are you measuring them?

To measure specific KPIs, identify them before creating your training program. Ensure the metrics are measurable. And integrate a testing function into the program.

27% Donut Chart

 The marriage of great content and great technology

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to tell you that today’s employees expect training to showcase the marriage of enlightened content and interactive technology. Perk: like many power couples, the two are more effective when combined.

For a hands-on example, look no further than your iPod. The game-changing technology moved the needle on the entire music industry. But without great content, an iPod is merely a well-designed piece of metal with potential.

Imagine lacing up your Adidas and listening to elevator muzak instead of a workout playlist. Spoiler alert: even with superior iPod technology in hand, you won’t shatter your 5-mile PR the day Engelbert Humperdinck replaces Daft Punk.

Don’t just deliver great content. Deliver it in a memorable, relatable way. Edgy modern media captivates employees because they relate to it, so the knowledge and skills they learn will stick.

So, what are you watching?


Let’s bring it full-circle. What other training trends are you watching in 2017? Let us know by commenting below, or give us a shout on Twitter @unboxedtech.

If your organization is on the verge of a growth spurt, custom training can catapult you to the next level. Let’s talk about transformational training solutions: (888) 723-9770

Not All Training Is Created Equal: High-Quality eLearning Matters

No matter how you create it and what you spend, training is an investment—and it should be. Training and development is the lifeblood of an organization, especially in industries that undergo frequent change and require ongoing skills acquisition. One way to get the most bang for your buck is to invest in high-quality eLearning.

According to ATD’s 2015 State of the Industry report, the average direct learning spend per employee was $1,229. So let’s get real. From an organizational health and bottom line perspective, your goal is to get the biggest return on that $1,229 investment possible. Your learners need to complete the training, and the training needs to stick so that everyone—your employees, customers, and company—reap the benefits.

Not All Training Is Created Equal - High Quality eLearning Matters

The Case for High-Quality eLearning

If your training is boring, don’t expect much return on your investment. ATD also reports each learning hour used by an employee costs an average of $84. Multiply that hour by, say, 300 employees, and you’ve spent $25,200. If those employees just hit Next or skim through the training as fast as it will buffer, your investment—or hard work—is gone.

Good news, though: high-quality eLearning isn’t something elusive and abstract. There are distinct factors that contribute to an increase in participation, retention, and behavioral change. Think of them as eLearning effectiveness multipliers. The factors are quality, brevity, and realism. Bonus points for humor, too. Let’s take a look at each factor so you feel confident producing your next eLearning or finding the right vendor partner.


Today, a high bar of excellence for visual design isn’t a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have. It indicates a company takes pride in its brand, and more importantly, its people. Humans recognize and appreciate beauty. They admire strong craftsmanship and expect a friendly, intuitive user interface.

Don’t believe us? Take a peek at what Connie Malamed writes in her article Why Aesthetics Matter to Learning.

One obvious way to influence people is through visual aesthetics, or the appreciation of an appealing design. Thus, the importance of visual design in learning is gaining in stature and will become increasingly important in years to come. Initial research has already shown that evoking positive emotions in learners through an attractive visual design (layout, colors, imagery, etc.) can help facilitate a successful learning experience.

For eLearning, quality goes beyond visual design into the realm of video production. Sound, lighting, and color balancing all matter. Your learners have exposure to high-quality media throughout their daily lives, and they don’t have patience for trite motivational soundtracks and monotone voiceovers. If you’ve ever participated in the 48 Hour Film Festival, you know even the best screenplays fail at the hands of a poor sound technician.

If you’re just getting started, an emphasis on design and production quality can be intimidating, but you can start small. Pick a simple look and feel you know you can execute with confidence, or hire a partner and learn from them.


eLearning Industry reports the average attention span of the Millennial generation is 90 seconds, and 75% of the workforce will be Millennials by 2025. Even without these statistics, you know, intuitively, an employee’s time is their most precious asset. Their time off the floor or out of the field is time not spent selling, helping, influencing, or producing.

It’s time to realize your learners don’t want to sit through a 60-minute eLearning. Instead, use microlearning to make it easy for them to quickly learn new information and practice new skills in short bursts that fit into the reality of their workflow.

Embrace microlearning as part of your strategy. Microlearning in its truest form focuses on one learning objective per module. This allows employees to get back to their work quickly and immediately apply what they’ve learned.

To get started, look for natural places in your current content to divide learning into smaller pieces. For example, you can break a three-scenario simulation course into three separate courses. Or, you can train on one product per video rather than bundling multiple products into one eLearning.


As you continue to think about your eLearning design, answer this question: How will my learners relate to this training? Your goal is for employees to see themselves, the products they sell, their customers, and their managers represented accurately in the content.

Keeping your training real is easier said than done, and it might require a little more time or money. It’s worth it, though, and it’s a lot more fun. Here are some tips:

  • Consult with the experts. Identify the best subject-matter experts and make time for them to teach you what they know. Conduct field surveys, go on ride-alongs, and talk to frontline reps and managers to get to the heart of the matter. Don’t fake it.
  • Involve a writer who can create great dialogue. Everyday human-speak is quite different from the too-perfect, rigid scripting we’re all guilty of. If you listen carefully to how people typically converse, you’ll hear interruptions, interjections, and joking around.
  • Include objections. If you’re writing customer scenarios, don’t make them too easy. Have the customers raise objections that challenge learners and provide good practice opportunities.
  • Shoot on location. Use your true office, field, or floor setting. Fill it with extras and get room tone to give your learners the most realistic, immersive experience possible.
  • Hire strong actors who can execute your vision. Audition for your roles and don’t settle. You’ll be amazed at how effortlessly the right professional talent can bring your training to life. If your budget allows, give them rehearsal time to practice, ask questions, and get feedback.


If you nail the first three multipliers—good for you! Want to take your eLearning one step further? Welcome to the bonus round.

In the same article mentioned earlier, Connie Malamed writes, “Although instructional design typically focuses on the cognitive aspects of learning, a new line of research is now exploring the affective dimension too. Known as “emotional design,” this research looks at the ways a learner’s feelings and mood can influence motivation and learning results.”

Put your learners in a good mood by making them laugh. A Loma Linda University study indicates laughter can lower stress and enhance memory. Dr. Lee Berk, one of the study co-authors, puts it well.

It’s simple, the less stress you have the better your memory. Humor reduces detrimental stress hormones like cortisol that decrease memory hippocampal neurons, lowers your blood pressure, and increases blood flow and your mood state. The act of laughter—or simply enjoying some humor—increases the release of endorphins and dopamine in the brain, which provides a sense of pleasure and reward.

Humor can also help learners engage with new material more, according to a 2015 report Learning Through Laughter: New Study Supports Use Of Humor In Online Courses.

To get the full story on how humor can benefit you and your learners, read the post Our Funny Theory: Use Humor to Improve Training Effectiveness. Oh, and don’t think you’re funny? Here’s a tip: a little bit of slapstick at the beginning of a live action video can go a long way. (Think “sales reps can’t figure out how to open the door,” or “sales rep steps out of car and accidentally drops large stack of paperwork.”)

The Bottom Line

In the day-to-day shuffle of emails, meetings, and decision points, it’s tempting to take the easy road and animate a PowerPoint in your favorite authoring software and call it eLearning. You’ll get high-fives for being budget-conscious, but you won’t get the career-boosting results you want – nor will your learners.

Avoid the hidden costs of low-quality training. A year after implementation, your organization will be back at square one, spending more money. Instead, make it a priority to invest in high-quality eLearning. Remember: quality, reality, and brevity are your eLearning effectiveness multipliers. Bonus points for humor.

If you want to know more about our approach to eLearning development, we’d be happy to talk shop. Comment below, contact us online, or give us a call to get in touch.