7 Takeaways When You Have to Cancel In-Person Training
It feels like we all “went remote” overnight. The speed of change raised the bar for training and ongoing productivity. Companies find it’s more important than ever for sales reps to collaborate and share best practices with one another. Yet in-person training and face-to-face communications are two things we cannot do right now.
Fortunately, there are proven tactics to transform a traditional meeting or training session into a virtual one. In a recent webinar You Had to Cancel In-Person Training … Now What?, three Allego experts shared advice to help you create effective virtual training events, promote remote collaboration, and stay productive during this challenging time.
Our panel included Allego Chief Revenue Officer George Donovan, Allego Vice President, Customer Success Laurie Long and Allego Senior Product Marketing Manager Jake Miller. Here are highlights of the discussion and seven valuable takeaways for virtual training and productivity.
Certifying Remote Teams
Jake Miller, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Allego: Many training managers are scrambling right now. In-person sessions have been canceled. Teams are working remotely. We all need to find the best ways to stay productive in the middle of what otherwise feels like a really chaotic time. What are you hearing from training managers?
George Donovan, Chief Revenue Officer, Allego: It’s a very confusing time for people. Right now, we’re getting a lot of inbound enquiries from folks trying to figure out what they need to drive business continuity when everybody’s at home. Sales leaders, sales enablement managers and sales operations people are reaching out to us trying to understand a) what they need to be successful and b) what they already have in their technology infrastructure that they can use to support their needs, and if they don’t have it, what are the options for them to get it.
For example, most companies have videoconferencing, which is great. But it doesn’t work for everything. Some companies have an LMS, but that’s not going to work for more collaborative types of engagements, asynchronously.
One recent example is a company that had a massive problem because of the shutdown. They were about to certify 1,000 sellers all over the globe at a sales kickoff in April. They were going to fly everybody in to practice new messaging and get certified together. With the travel ban, they had to cancel that meeting. But guess what? Life goes on. They have to continue to run their business. They have to sell their new product. They have to learn new messaging.
They engaged with Allego to be able to do that through our platform asynchronously. Because of the flexibility of the platform and the magic of our customer success team, this new customer of ours now has the ability to get into our platform and create the content very quickly. They’re going to be able to execute on this product certification in the next two weeks. This is a good example of how they had to pivot. With 1,000 salespeople all around the globe waiting for something to happen, they had to do it very differently, but they could still make it happen.
Takeaway 1: When in-person training is canceled, use pre-recorded, interactive video so teams can train, practice, and certify from different locations and time zones.
Onboarding New Hires
Jake: How are you using Allego to onboard new salespeople during this time?
George: We definitely drink our own champagne. We’re very similar to a lot of our customers. The biggest challenge with onboarding is wasting time. Let’s say you have a class of five or 10 people. Most companies fly them into headquarters and put them through a week or two-week training program.
The challenge is you spend the first two days trying to baseline everybody to a certain knowledge level. When you have 10 people in a program, some people are going to know a lot about the industry, the company, the competition and other people aren’t going to know anything.
So you spend time assessing, which is very costly. Those are valuable moments when you have people together and you shouldn’t be baseline training. Everybody should be able to come to that training with a certain knowledge level. One of the ways most of our customers use Allego is to get their new hires pre-boarded. So when everybody gets together for that program, they all have baseline knowledge about the product, the industry, the competition and their selling methodology.
Takeaway 2: Pre-board new hires with a baseline of knowledge about your company, products, and competition to save valuable class time for more advanced learning.
Equally as important is post-boarding. Once a new hire has gone through pre-boarding and the onboarding program, you have to reinforce all those things. We know that if we don’t reinforce what we teach people, within 30 days they’re going to lose 80% of it and then we just wasted the whole lot of time.
With remote teams, you can share pre-recorded sessions so participants can go back and watch them again to reinforce learning. You can also record the seller’s role play. The new hire can then send that recording to their manager so the manager can see how they’re progressing through their onboarding program.
It’s really important to do high-impact, bite-sized micro-learning every day in the flow of the seller’s work after training. It could be something as simple as sending a couple of notifications on their phone every day with a quiz question or a reminder question about something they learned in the training program.
Takeaway 3: Engage with learners before, during and after training to create a seamless transition from baseline product knowledge to execution when learners are applying that training.
Meeting Training Deadlines
Jake: What are you seeing from an implementation perspective? How is it possible to stand up a program like this when we’re all moving fast?
Laurie Long, Vice President, Customer Success, Allego: The ability to ramp up quickly depends on your partner. We’ve done this hundreds of times. We’ve helped companies under normal circumstances take live training and convert it to an asynchronous training event. We have a ton of experience and a vast number of best practices that allow us to guide our customers through this process.
What we’re finding today is that we’re able to accelerate the process even more significantly than we have in the past. A lot of the customers are coming to us with a very specific deadline and we’re actually doing a lot of the work for them. Allego is a very easy to use, intuitive app. But we’ve done this hundreds of times and customers are doing things for the first time.
We have the benefit of speed and experience on our side for a rapid implementation if the clock is ticking. Our typical approach is shoulder-to-shoulder, where we’re showing you how to do everything that we’re doing. We can come back to a shoulder-to-shoulder approach once we’ve helped you hit a very aggressive deadline.
The other reason customers are able to move quickly is that many of them have developed the training materials they were going to use in a live event. Typically the delay with the launch of any training is the delivery of the materials. Once we have your materials, we can convert them to a more modern, asynchronous type of learning experience for the employees.
It’s a combination of best practices, taking material that you already have and converting it into a modern learning format, then rolling up our sleeves and doing some of the work for you to help you hit your date. Once the customer is ready, we’ll show you how you could do it on your own for the next one. This highlights the importance of having a strategic partnership with your vendor.
Takeaway 4: When you’re evaluating a technology, don’t just look at the platform, the app or the features and functionality. Evaluate the vendor and ask yourself what a strategic partnership would look like.
Evaluating New Platforms
Jake: What should organizations who are evaluating a technology vendor for virtual training look for in a customer success partnership?
Laurie: There people right now who are finding themselves with the rug pulled out from under them. Our job is to make sure that you meet your deadline quickly and efficiently and that you have visibility into how well your team is doing once you launch.
You want to work with someone who’s done this many, many times before and has templates, best practices, materials and tools that they’ll be able to share with you and that you can leverage. We share this with prospects all the time. We walk them through our tool kits, what we do, what an implementation looks like.
You’re going to be in this together in the trenches. You want to make sure that you’re comfortable with the approach and that you’re being guided by somebody that has your best interests at heart and also has the experience and the team available, ready and committed to support your success.
Takeaway 5: Evaluate the vendor’s customer success team and make sure you choose one that’s experienced and committed to supporting your success.
Jake: After training, when people are in the field, making calls and meeting with prospects, how can they maintain connections among team members?
George: This is even more of a challenge today. I was on the phone last night with a vice president of sales who said, “I feel so disconnected from my team right now. I’m doing a weekly call like we always do. We have a lot of remote employees and we do it on video. But I’m not the corporate headquarters, I’m not seeing people around.” He couldn’t wait to get into our platform to communicate with his team.
I use the platform for team updates and idea sharing. Near the end of the quarter, I’ll share a video with the sales team to ask “How are we doing against our goal? What have we closed this week? What have we learned this week? Did we have a loss? Could we learn from a loss? Did a customer do something incredible on the platform? Did you see a new use case that we want to share with everybody?”
We also use it to recognize people for a job well done or a personal milestone, when someone buys their first house or has a baby. You want to send a video to say “Congratulations!” This means a lot to employees and it’s much more personal than just sending out an email or a Slack.
One of my personal favorites is something I call deal storming—brainstorming on a deal, a customer, or an account. Selling is a team sport in most organizations these days. It’s not just the salespeople, it’s the customer success person, the pre-sales engineer, the sales manager. Within a platform like Allego, everyone can share content and collaborate on the presentation you’re going to use, account plan, pricing models—anything you want to go back and forth on.
Takeaway 6: Try to trigger collaboration across teams. Video can make communications much more interesting, engaging and personal. Think creatively about how and what to communicate with your team. Use video to prepare for sales calls, customer account reviews or share customer win reports.
Jake: How are organizations benefiting from incorporating video communication and collaboration?
Laurie: A lot of our customers are no longer able to meet with their prospects face to face. If you’re in the medical device industry, you’re not going into a hospital or a doctor’s office. Everyone is really worried about the fact that managing a relationship through email is not as effective as sitting across the desk from someone.
The next best thing to meeting in person is sending a short video to maintain a connection with embedded collateral or product information. We’re all trying to be very respectful of the fact that many organizations are still trying to adjust to this new way of working. Sending a short video to a prospect is a way to let them know, “I’m ready to help you when you’re ready.”
Another way customers are using video is an update from company executives. Hearing and seeing leaders is so important and so different from receiving an email. The fact that we don’t see each other the way we used to really causes people to feel disconnected and distracted, and that impacts productivity.
We’ve been helping organizations to do this for a long time, for our entire existence. The difference now is that instead of having to be a combination of live and virtual, now it’s all virtual.
Takeaway 7: Send a short video from the leadership team or a manager to help the team understand what’s going on. It’s a way people can stay connected that’s convenient for them.
To learn more about how mobile, video, and peer-to-peer collaboration can help, watch the complete webinar on demand: You Had to Cancel In-Person Training … Now What?