Yukon Learning Launches Rapid Course™
JOAN TUPPONCE SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
Published: July 20, 2009
Click here to view the Richmond Times-Dispatch article
Yukon Group Inc.
What is it? provides business-to-business sales training and services
Employees: 14 full-time, including the owners
Owner: Chris Ayers and Ron Lambert
Location: 4470 Cox Road, Suite 275, in Henrico
Contact: (804) 381-0781 or www.yukongroupinc.com
Jerry Clor runs advanced leadership training programs for longtime employees at Roche Laboratories Inc. in New Jersey.
To help him, Clor relies on training products and other services from Henrico County-based Yukon Group Inc.
“Our tenured employees need a sophisticated adult learning environment,” said Clor, Roche’s manager of career training and development.
“Yukon offers a full suite of services to meet [our] needs. I don’t have to explain anything to them. They understand adult learning.”
Yukon Group owners Chris Ayers and Ron Lambert have used their years of experience in training and development to create business-to-business sales training and, more recently, electronic learning, or e-learning.
The training focuses on sales negotiations to help salespeople conduct higher-level sales calls. Clients using Yukon Group’s business-to-business classroom training include Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, M&M Mars and AMF.
But last year, in an effort to boost its own sales, Yukon Group created Yukon Learning that specializes in e-learning products and services that help companies enhance the skills that employees learn in training sessions.
Revenue at the Yukon Group had been flat in 2007 and 2008, after 15 percent growth each year since 2000.
“We were in a recession and companies wanted to do training but didn’t have the budget for it,” said Ayers, the Yukon Group’s president and CEO.
“Our classroom training started to dwindle some, and we had to find a way to stay competitive,” he said. “We found that through technology. We built products and learning so people could attend classes online.”
E-learning is becoming increasingly popular with companies, accounting for nearly one-third of all learning content, according to a report by the American Society for Training & Development.
While traditional classroom instruction is still a much-needed service, “learning professionals are turning to technology to help streamline operations and deliver learning at less cost and with greater reach,” the report said.
One of Yukon Learning’s Web-based tools is Cameo, a software product that delivers learning reinforcement through e-mail. Companies use it to reinforce key learning points made at their training sessions.
The product received national recognition this year as a finalist in the Most Innovative Software Idea category of the CompTIA SoftwareCEO Software Innovation Awards for 2009.
Ayers came up with the concept in 2006 when flying across the country on a red-eye flight. Instead of sleeping, he was busy sketching out his vision on a beverage napkin.
“Too often learning stops in the classroom, and unfortunately, that is also when the forgetting starts,” he said. “Research says that after 31 days you retain about 21 percent of what you learned in a workshop.”
Yukon first used Cameo as way to reinforce learning for its own courses but decided to roll it out commercially in October.
Yukon now has six corporate clients using Cameo.
To handle the increased business, Ayers will be tripling Yukon’s space and adding up to eight new employees this year.
Dennis Falci, director of U.S. managed markets training at pharmaceutical company Sanofi Aventis in New Jersey, uses Yukon’s training products and services for new account managers as well as existing teams.
“They are excellent to work with,” Falci said. “They get it. They are seasoned professionals and they understand the business.”
Yukon Group traces its roots to Alongside Management, a sales training company founded in 1989 by Ron Lambert and Herb Mahan.
When the two divided the assets of the business in the early 1990s, Lambert continued as Alongside Marketing until 2005 when the company name changed to Yukon Group.
Lambert, who worked in senior-level positions at several companies, thought about opening a training company after becoming disappointed with sales-training courses being offered to businesses. He wanted to use trainers who were experienced in sales instead of trainers with no practical experience.
“We set our criteria,” Lambert said. “Trainers have to have at least 20 years of experience in selling, and they must have been a vice president of sales in a major company. We started out using contractors, but the people that work with us now are employees of the company.”
Ayers met Lambert in 1998 after contracting with Alongside to conduct sales training at Hamilton Beach, a manufacturer of small kitchen appliances, where Ayers served as the director of training.
Ayers, who joined Alongside in 2000, is now the majority owner of the Yukon Group.