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July 14, 2020

CEO Yuchun Lee on Leadership in Learning

At Allego’s S3 Virtual Showcase, I shared the company’s vision for leadership in the learning and enablement market, as well as my thoughts on how going remote and being virtual have forever changed the rules of the game for all.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our business has accelerated as more companies have adopted Allego to help them with virtual training and remote sales. Usage of Allego has quadrupled over the past 18 months as we get feedback from our customers that we are delivering real business value.

This is an exciting time to be in this market, as companies are rapidly changing how they train and support their teams to make every employee ready for the job. We see a lot of innovation in front of us, and we’re just getting started.

Here are highlights from my keynote on the future of work and how companies can make their virtual teams more successful.

Allego Was Made For This Moment

We believe success at work is fundamental to human happiness. But many professionals fail because of a lack of skills, knowledge, and the mindset needed to achieve that success. Companies try to help by various means with training programs, but they’re often not effective. For example, sales training typically means taking reps out of the field, often with outdated content. Even if the content is good, after training it’s often forgotten. A compounding issue is that coaching after training is at times difficult or inconsistent.

Yet we know that these same reps have a totally different experience in their personal lives. If they need to fix anything at home or cook a dish, there are how-to videos on YouTube only one search away. When they need to buy something, there are reviews on Amazon and other sites to help make decisions. They interact socially and stay connected online, sharing content in the flow of their personal lives.

We built Allego on this paradigm and fleshed out a vision to guide us. We believe in helping employees be successful. We put the employee at the center of learning and figured out what they need to be productive: employees succeed with just-in-time learning at the moment of need.

Defining the Moment of Need

Above and beyond traditional learning, employees need two things: the latest and most relevant content from trusted sources and an efficient, low-friction way to collaborate. Our role is to provide tools and help businesses flesh out processes for learning, content, and collaboration in the flow of work.

For example, the moment of need for a seller is perhaps an hour to a few days before an important customer conversation. At this point, this rep should have access to the latest learning content and reference material they can brush up on. They should be able to view videos of what the best reps in the company are doing in similar situations, articulating value, telling compelling customer stories, differentiating from competition, and handling tough objections. All this should be done in the context of their work and accessible at their fingertips.

If you roll the clock back a few more days to a few weeks ahead of the customer conversation, there should be processes that facilitate practice drills to reinforce a rep’s memory of key facts and knowledge. There should be practice drills, so reps are fluent and able to articulate value, especially for new hires. There should be processes that systematically gather the latest insights from the field and that process should feel as easy as sharing information in their personal social networks—not like an assignment or additional burden on their time.

There should also be processes to help sales managers coach their reps more efficiently, virtually, and asynchronously by reviewing sales calls and reps’ own recordings to provide feedback. This is the best way to ensure that content is created and made available at the moment of need for everybody.

Then if you roll back time to a few more months before the customer conversation, to when the rep is first onboarded or when a product is launched, we envision a modern way of delivering formal onboarding, training, and product launch that is both more efficient and more effective. We do this by leveraging a mix of learning content, harvested from the field, to give reps confidence in selling.

We built Allego to deliver on this continuum of learning, content, and collaboration in the flow of work—to help every employee to be as successful as possible.

Moving Beyond a Traditional Approach

With a more traditional approach to learning, the L&D team creates courses and quizzes to train and certify people. Some of these courses are too long in terms of form factor and it takes too long to create them to match the business need. By investing solely in traditional content, no matter how good the material is, you’re still not ensuring that it can be remembered at the moment of need.

What we’re advocating instead is a process where you can think about simpler form factors for learning. For example, content created from recordings of presentations directly from subject matter experts or people in the field and with quiz questions sprinkled in various places and exercises that help validate that the reps have fluency.

Having content sourced from subject matter experts and people in the field allows learning and development teams to act more like curators of content and not just creators of content. This gives them bandwidth to orchestrate the creation of robust just-in-time libraries, reinforcement drills, and other things that are higher impact.

Our experience is that once you take this approach, the amount of effort is about the same as traditional methods, yet the results are much more effective and get higher adoption because the content is more useful to employees.

Content In the Flow of Work

Managing content in the flow of work starts with making collateral and reference material available at employees’ fingertips. That’s really important. But even more important is the process of generating and curating agile content. We coined the term “agile content” to describe content that is fast changing and time critical. For example, how do you handle the latest objection based on yesterday’s news? How do you differentiate from key competitors that just rolled out a new product? Why are reps winning or losing a particular type of deal?

These are insights that change on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. So content in the flow of work is not just about accessing content, it’s also about generating the most useful content and ensuring it’s always fresh and relevant. Allego customers that do this successfully have all seen tremendous jumps in both team collaboration and productivity gains.

Collaboration In the Flow of Work

Collaboration in the flow of work is about making sure employees can collaborate with peers, managers, and subject matter experts efficiently. What we found is that one of the biggest roadblocks to collaboration is the requirement to sync up peoples’ calendars to coach, to brainstorm, or to exchange rich information. Today, at most companies, anything that’s too complex to be shared via text messaging or email requires dealing with a calendaring nightmare.

We built a set of capabilities for employees to be able to collaborate, coach remotely, get feedback from others, and brainstorm ideas, not by scheduling a time on the calendar, but asynchronously. By removing the obstacles and time constraints, we help organizations coach more effectively, brainstorm more effectively, allow employees to get valuable feedback and help from others at the moment of need. This is what we mean by collaboration in the flow of work.

Challenges of a Remote, Globally Dispersed and Virtual World

Although there are many new challenges as companies move to virtual selling, there is one silver lining of remote sales. Because they’re not traveling, your sellers have more time today to learn and be trained. Employees in many industries, including a majority of our customers, are seeing more productive teams than ever. Slotting time for learning is an opportunity not to be missed.

The challenge, though, is that it’s much harder for reps to articulate value and to build trust and rapport with customers virtually instead of face-to-face. You’re now limited to a little window—a video screen. This clearly impacts individual customer meetings, but also affects all activities across sales and marketing—any meeting that’s about articulating value, building rapport with customers, including conferences and roundtables, team meetings and small events as well as individual customer visits.

This is a golden opportunity, to bring subject matter experts on calls. Because they’re not traveling, they have more time to engage multiple clients at once. But don’t just think about the actual call. Think about what you can do before and after the call as well. Send materials ahead of time and increase the frequency of touch. Send a video of yourself summarizing the key points of the meeting afterwards. Show your face. Build rapport, improve the open rate, and increase engagement with your client.

As a vendor in this world, we live this every day. Because people are remote, they long for human-to-human connection. Leverage the opportunity to facilitate connections and catalyze engagement with each other.

Physical Distancing, Not Social Distancing

Lastly, we see tremendous uptick in companies using video to build connections within the organization. We’re really physically distancing, not socially distancing. The ability for individuals and teams to connect using short videos with ease is now becoming a key value-add. At this time, when all employees are physically distant, this is more valuable than ever.

When people are remote they long for human interaction. This is why I send a video to my whole company once a week instead of writing emails. Once you get used to it, it’s a whole lot easier to record a video than writing an email. More than ever, we need to be socially connected and socially engaging. 

The Future of Work

We’re entering the era of the employee, when companies have begun to realize that to build strong companies, we need happy customers, but to have happy customers we need well-trained and highly engaged employees. Employee competency and engagement will be the keys to business success.

Many organizations are allocating billions in the coming years to train and reskill their teams. This is why we’re optimistic that platforms such as Allego and processes that put employees at the center will be quite important.

We see our role in all this to envision what the future of work will look like. Based on our collective experiences and data, we can identify what capabilities are needed by our customers and what business processes can be improved. We’re going to help our customers realize that by helping them implement best practices. We will continue to evolve our thinking by crowdsourcing, observing what the industry is doing as a whole, and facilitating and building community.

This new normal has accelerated innovation. We’re seeing success and validation of our vision. It’s clear to me that we’re in a unique position to help customers be more successful in this virtual world while simplifying how they address its unique characteristics and challenges.

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