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5 Best Practices for Hybrid Sales Training

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Sandra Masters:

Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. And welcome to 5 Best Practices for Hybrid Sales Training presented by Mary Charles and Jonathan Carlson. And this program is sponsored by Allego. You’ll hear more about them in just a little bit. We hope that you can join us for these upcoming webinars. On November 10th, we have Nolan Haims presenting her data in PowerPoint. And on November 11th, we have Michael Leimbach and David Yesford, Only 25% of Salespeople Sell to Value: Make Your Sales Team Part of the 25%. And also on November 16th, we have Brynne Tillman, Using Targeted LinkedIn Searches for Warm Market Prospecting. So, go to the smmconnect.com calendar, and I hope that you’ll connect with us on Twitter at SMMConnectus. Have you signed up for Sales and Marketing Management Magazine? You can get your copy for free and you will also receive these SMM Focus Reports. So, visit salesandmarketing.com/subscribe to get your free copy in digital or print or both and get these Focus Reports.

Are you listening to podcasts, anyone? Anyone? Visit SMM Connect and salesandmarketing.com/podcast. You can join in on the informative podcasts, learn new ideas and strategies, and these podcasts are published weekly, so visit salesandmarketing.com and get access to your podcast. The recorded webinar archive is where we post all of our webinar recordings and you can share this webinar today with your peers by going to SMM Connect and search the recorded webinar archive. Allego is our sponsor today. Over one quarter of companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average use Allego, and you can get your free demo at Allego.com/demo. Allego elevates performance for sales and other teams by combining learning content and collaboration into one app designed for the flow of work. We are thankful to our sponsor today, and again, please help me welcome from Allego, Jonathan Carlson. Welcome back, Jonathan and Mary will be here with us, as well.

Jonathan Carlson:

Yeah.

Sandra Masters:

Good to have you.

Jonathan Carlson:

Thank you so much Sandy, and thanks to everybody for being here. Always a pleasure to be speaking with this audience. I’ve been on a few times. And it’s always just a great conversation. So, excited to tackle this topic with all of you today, and certainly happy to have Mary here. She is our sales enablement director here at Allego. She knows all the ins and outs of the sales enablement community, all the challenges that they face, and just all the work and the blood, sweat, and tears that go into holding hybrid sales trainings and sales kickoffs. It’s a monumental effort. So excited to have her insight today. So, with that, let’s jump in.

We’re going to talk about how to hold effective hybrid learning and training sessions, but let’s talk about first things first. What is hybrid learning? What is hybrid training? So, let’s just level set with that. What are we talking about when we use this term? Hybrid means that we’re not just dealing with one set of circumstances. We know that for very many of us, we cannot just get the entire team together, sit them down in a room and ensure everybody has exactly identical face-to-face experiences. We’re dealing with a combination of factors. It could be that we’re dealing with both virtual and instructor-led training and learning.

So, folks could either be going through a pre-recorded or a pre-developed course, or they could be going through instructor-led, in-person training. That training could be conducted synchronously at the same time, everybody’s going through it together. Or it could be asynchronous. People could be going through training on their own schedules as it becomes available to them, as it’s convenient for them. Often, we see a blend of these two things happening in hybrid learning situations, and then we’re talking, of course, about in-person versus virtual participants that are taking the same training.

This is where it gets really tricky. When you think about a national sales meeting, so often, and Mary, you can attest to this, it involves flying people in, flying reps in from all over the world, all over the country, renting out a hotel conference room for a couple of days. Everybody has lunch together. Everybody goes out together. You have this shared in-person experience, and so often today, that’s not going to be the case for so many of us. We’re going to have people who are fortunate enough to be in the room in person, and I know that many companies are encouraging this, which is great, just to build that in-person team bond is vital, but many, many, many folks cannot make that happen. It is not a reality for them. So, companies have to have an effective virtual solution for those people so they can consume the same content, have the same experiences, build those same bonds while they’re remote, while they’re virtual.

So, this is a real challenge of the hybrid learning and training experience, but it’s something that we’ve got to come to terms with. I know that many of us have done a lot of work on this over the past couple of years, ever since Covid entered our lives, but I do know that it’s still a challenge, and it’s probably even more complicated now than it was before because there are so many different scenarios that need to be accommodated. So many companies are in different stages, different positions have different expectations of their employees. It’s probably more important now than ever to have this conversation.

So we’re going to jump into a poll real quick because Mary and I want to get your take on what’s happening, how you’re handling your sales kickoffs this year. Are you going to have them all in person, a hundred percent remote, some sort of hybrid scenario, or you’re not sure yet or it’s not applicable to you? Let’s let those results come in so we can get a sense for the different situations that you all are going to be in.

Mary, any thoughts on what we’re going to see here as we’re looking for the results to come in?

Mary Charles:

Well, I was thinking hybrid. I know that’s what we’re doing, so I’m interested to see what others are planning.

Jonathan Carlson:

Yeah.

Sandra Masters:

All right. Last chance to weigh in on the poll. Five, four, three, two, one. All right, let’s look at these results. Isn’t this interesting? 45% hybrid, 25%, not sure, 16% all remote, and 4%, 14%, sorry, all in person.

Jonathan Carlson:

There you go. So, that’s great. That’s what we would’ve thought and makes sense that you’re attending this webinar looking for hybrid tips and tricks to make these hybrid sessions effective, but also in a helping a number of folks in these other situations, as well, which I think just goes to show the wide variety of training scenarios that we need to think about accommodating today. So, with that, Mary, do you want to talk a little bit about hybrid learning considerations that need to be taken into account while you’re putting your hybrid training plans together?

Mary Charles:

Yeah, and I think the poll’s really helpful because one of the things was 25% don’t know yet. So, hopefully today, we can share some ideas that will help you support whichever model you go with in person, hybrid, virtual. I think the number one thing that is top of mind for me as far as, we are planning a live event, but we will also have some of our audience virtual that will not be able to attend or prefer not to attend in person.

And so, technology is one of the big things that we’re looking into for the locations we’re looking at because being able to support those remote participants, allowing them to hear everything that’s going on in the audience, as well as being able to ask questions, get questions answered, is going to be a critical part of having everybody feel included and having it be a successful event for everyone, which takes us to our next part about the hybrid, whether it’s hybrid virtual, hybrid in person, at home, et cetera, is thinking about including everybody, no matter what their abilities are, their learning styles, their location, if they’re virtual or actually physically in a room. That’s something that we’re thinking a lot about these days.

And then, how can we make the experience, how can we take this opportunity? We’re almost two years into this model now, or a year and a half in, but who’s counting at this point? But how can we make the experience even better than it was before? Because I’m guessing many people on here, whether you’ve brought in new hires or you’ve run kickoff event, you try to cram as much as you can into a short period of time or for hours a day in a classroom setting. And that experience, as much as we tried to make it interactive and fun and energizing all those things, it’s very hard. And now the people have had a break from it. It’s hard to bring people back in and put them through that same process again.

So how can we take that experience… And we’re going to give some ideas today, and I’d love to hear your ideas and chat, but how can we make it even better than it was when it was a hundred percent in person? And then, the last piece is thinking about how do you help people collaborate? John was talking about synchronous, when everybody’s together, live or in person, virtual or in person, how do you help people collaborate both that way as well as asynchronously when they’re doing their learning? So, those are some of the big things that are top of mind, I think, for everybody these days.

Jonathan Carlson:

Yeah, yeah. Beautiful. And I think so much of this is applicable to any training situation. You want to make sure that your tech works well. You want to make sure that people feel involved and included. And you want to make sure the experience is great. You just got to put even more into it to make hybrid training work. And when it works, it can work really, really well. And at Allego, we’ve seen some amazing results just within our own team. All right.

So today we’re going to tackle five tips. We promised five tips. We’re going to give them to you for hybrid sales training, and we’re going to go through them one by one. The first one here is setting the stage. So, before you do anything, what do you need to think about in terms of setting the stage for a successful training or successful meeting? First and foremost, we highly recommend leveraging leadership to gain buy-in, get your executives involved, get your chief revenue officer involved, your CEO, your president, whoever. Get the people at the top talking about hybrid training, talking about this experience, talking about your team’s involvement in it, and setting the expectations that this is going to be a motivating, engaging, and effective training session that requires everybody to be bought in.

That’s true of any training session. In order for training to be effective, people have to be bought into it. They have to be engaged. They have to participate. It’s just so easy in a hybrid situation, in a remote situation, for people to tune out. If we’re on a call like this and their camera’s turned off, they could be doing something totally different. They could be taking a call, and you wouldn’t know it. So, the expectation has to be set early that this is something that everybody is a hundred percent invested in. And it really helps if you get executives helping to set those expectations. So, we really recommend that. Again, we do that on our own team. It’s highly effective.

And you need to start getting people thinking about this pretty early, not just a couple days in advance, but weeks in advance saying, “This training is coming up here. Here’s the expectations that we have for you. Here’s what the schedule’s going to look like. Here’s what the time, the workload is going to look like for you.” Just so there are no surprises and there are no excuses.

Maybe more importantly, there can be no excuses for not participating in the training. But we don’t want this to be seen as onerous either. So we want to use this expectation setting to build excitement to show the team what’s going to be in it for them. What are they going to get out of it? Why are they going through this? For a sales team, you’re helping them become better sellers when you’re training them, when they’re going through a sales kickoff. You’re helping them do their jobs better, create a better livelihood for themselves, fundamentally. And yet, you’re also bringing them together with their colleagues. They get to learn from each other. They get to experience each other. They get to participate in team building that is so critical to having an effective sales team.

So, all of these things are things that sellers want. They’re invested in it. And they’re invested in them. And that is with any sales team. At the end of the day, the what’s in it for you, or if I’m a seller, what’s in it for me message is the most important one because they’re busy. They’re trying to hit their numbers all the time, every day. If you’re going to take them out of the field, they better know why. They better have a good reason why. And these are all great reasons, the improvement of their craft and the connectivity with their team. The ability to learn from people they trust on their team, that’s super critical. And again, not just applicable to hybrid, but even more important in a hybrid selling scenario when people are going to be in different situations, you want to make sure that everybody’s approaching the training from the same perspective. Mary, anything to add on any of these points or any other points that you’d like to add on this topic?

Mary Charles:

No, I think you, you’ve highlighted the key ones. Those are really important. And I know I always involve our chief revenue officer whenever we’re kicking off any kind of training program or what have you, make sure that he’s involved so that he can emphasize with people how important it is and what’s in it for them. That message almost always comes from him directly.

Jonathan Carlson:

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Awesome. All right, so let’s go to next, the next stage, the next tip, focus on the pre-meeting. Oh, I’m sorry, Mary. I’m going to [inaudible 00:14:27].

Mary Charles:

That’s okay. There aren’t a lot of bullets on here, which is great because then I can talk about whatever I want to talk about. This is my favorite kind of new skill that I’ve developed and also new ideas that have come up I think since we started working virtually. But I think even as we go to face-to-face, I’ll just kind of paint the picture for using our sales kickoff as an example. So, we had everything virtual last year. This year, as I said, we’re going to have some people face-to-face. I’m still going to follow the same idea of focusing on pre-meeting. What do I mean by that? I mean, what can be done from a learning perspective or a training perspective before the meeting, the live virtual or the in-person meeting?

What we did for our kickoff last year, our virtual kickoff, is we had something called Run Up to Kickoff. And over a period of two weeks each day we released either a video or a couple times we did a live lunch and learn, but we’d release a message from one of our leaders in the sales group, and they made it really personal. I know I had my son in my video. Other people had spouses, dogs, et cetera, and really made it fun and got people interested in like, “Hey, here’s coming today.” Then, on their calendar, they could watch it whenever they wanted to and absorb that information. And these weren’t really long videos. These might have been five or 10-minute videos, and sometimes we break them up into two parts just to make it more consumable so that, a sales rep, we know how valuable their time is, we don’t want to take them out away from selling time, but when it was right for them, they could consume that information.

And we had pieces from other departments like Marketing John was involved. We had people from our customer success team, all different sorts of things, even a customer. And I’ll talk about customer participation in a minute, but it really went over so well with the team because we made it fun. People could post comments on the videos or ask questions. So, that was collaborative. And then, we leveraged by doing at asynchrony, we really were able to leverage technology to make sure that people could consume, understand, and really let that information sink in so that when we all got together live, it was a very different kind of meeting. It wasn’t a lot of telling, right? It wasn’t just constantly pushing information at them. So, we were able to, John, if you could go back to the asynchronous list.

Jonathan Carlson:

Yeah, I apologize.

Mary Charles:

That’s okay. I’ll talk about it anyway. The asynchronous types of content, that content that we released leading up to that meeting or what I use for any kind of training is, I’ll call out a couple of ones here that I think are really, really good ones. Customer presentations. It is nearly impossible for us to get a customer set up to be live on a call to help our sales team learn. And it’s a hard ask, as well. And I know getting people face-to-face is just not going to happen. So, we had a recorded interview with one of our customers that the president of our company did. It was fantastic. The only time that guy could record that was on a Saturday. We never would’ve gotten him otherwise. So, that was really, really valuable, and our team loved that.

Peer-to-peer content is another big one. Getting videos recorded for best practices. So, we had people recording about how they were adapting to virtual selling, what they had done that worked and was successful. So, I was able to capture all of these different types of content. In our case, we use a lot of video. It’s really effective. It accommodates all learners really. We’re used to using YouTube and Netflix and all these things. So, it comes naturally to people to watch a short video, and that connecting people, which John’s going to talk about, as well. But really all these different types of ways to provide variety and get people’s interests, keep them engaged, is extremely important. So, this is a lot different than what I did a year and a half ago. A lot different.

Jonathan Carlson:

Yeah, I just love all these asynchronous examples. I think often people think about, if they think about asynchronous communication at all, it’s often like emails. Emails are asynchronous, not particularly engaging. We get so many of them these days that you ignore the majority of what you get. But these are all such compelling ways to communicate, period, regardless of when you’re receiving the information. And the ability to deliver these to people for them to consume on their own time, whether it’s in the lead up to training or during the training itself. It’s just such a valuable tool to build good communication and build relationships and engagement with people in ways that we probably wouldn’t have thought a lot about before we were forced into this situation. I often think about that, which is that some of these tools may have been available to us in the past before we were forced into remote work, but we just weren’t taking advantage of them because we didn’t have to. We could see each other every day.

But now that we’ve been forced into this situation, forced to think about how do we replicate and improve upon our in-person interactions. Now these tools are available to us forever, so we should take advantage of the ones that work. And I think a lot of these really do and will continue to work for the foreseeable future, so love it.

Alrighty, now we’re going to get to the third point. Connect people. Maybe the most important thing you can do in any training session is to connect the people who are there. Again, easier when you can all be in the same space, but very, very doable even when you’re not. But you do have to pay extra attention to technology resources. It’s not just does the projector work, which is still important for people in the room, but you’ve got to think about how can we ensure that the people who are virtual are having a comparable, if not identical, experience to the people who are in the room.

I don’t know if a lot of you have been experiencing this recently, but I certainly have in hybrid meetings. It can be really hard if the technology’s not good. If I’m remote and everybody else is in the room, I feel like I’m not part of the conversation. people aren’t looking at me. I can’t hear very well. And if I’m in the room, I’m looking over to my left. I’m looking over to Mary. I’m talking to this person over here and over there, and I’m not looking at the people in my screen. I’m not involving the people who are remote. I’m not making them feel like part of the conversation, or all I’m doing is looking at my screen, and I’m ignoring the people who are around me. It makes sense. It’s the natural thing to do. It’s often a limitation of the technology that we have, but look for technology that makes people feel included.

And certainly, this emphasizes the importance of asynchronous communication and pre-show work and engagement so that people feel connected ahead of time, so they already feel like they’re part of the training, part of the group, before they get into a live session. That will help. But you’ve got to think about what type of technology will support a more inclusive engagement for everybody involved. And try to keep tabs on engagement. Encourage people to participate through the chat. Get people to unmute themselves and voice themselves. Make sure your audio on both ends is really good, so everybody can be heard and acknowledged and seen. You just don’t want this to turn into a one-dimensional training where you just have one trainer talking to many and not fostering that sense of collaboration and interaction that’s so critical to an impactful training session. This plays into the idea of team equity and team familiarity.

Like I said before, one of the major benefits of any SKO or training session is bringing the team together. Building that, not just skill, but building culture and building familiarity with one another because sellers do form a team. It can be a team of two or it can be a team of a hundred or a thousand, but sellers sell as a team and they need to feel that bond between each other. They need to learn from each other. So, doing things like… At Allego, we’ve got this amazing tool. It’s a employee video directory that we have where you can log into Allego and you see this library that includes videos from every single person in the company on every single team. And it’s just a quick introduction to who they are and what they do. That type of thing is really valuable. You can replicate it on a smaller scale just for your sales team.

I know at Allego we’ve hired a bunch of new people over the past couple of years. I’ve never met some of them, but I feel like I know who they are because I’ve seen their videos. And you can do that, as well. You can get everybody on the team, anybody who’s new, and certainly even if they’re not new, just get everybody to record a video of themselves saying who they are, what they do, what they’re excited about, what they want to learn more about, just to lay a foundation and build a common bond between the team when they can’t all be together in person. And encourage everybody, as the training goes on, encourage them to participate asynchronously, to contribute feedback on the videos and on the trainings that they’re receiving. One thing I really like about asynchronous training and asynchronous communication is the fact that it does actually level the playing field when it comes to audience participation.

Because I think we’ve all been in those meetings where they’re dominated by a couple of very strong voices, by people who are very comfortable and confident in the moment. Those people are wonderful. We love them. We want to hear what they have to say. But there’s also a ton of value from people who may not be as vocal, might be a little bit more soft spoken or might take more time to think about what they want to contribute and how they want to say something or to fully form their ideas. Asynchronous communication can help with that. So, for instance, if everybody on the team has to watch a prerecorded session in advance of a meeting, we encourage those people to use a tool like Allego to respond to the video in line. So, Allego allows you to post comments in response to videos. So, everybody should be posting comments, posting thoughts, posting ideas, concerns.

They should be posting those in the video so everybody has a chance to respond and collaborate with each other before they’re even in the same room. There’s a certain equity of voice that is achieved through communication in that way. So, that’s something to consider, as well.

And at the very least, thinking in this way will allow your team to better connect with each other. And go beyond formal training content. We know that you’ve got to go through the necessary steps to train your team. You need to certify people on your product, make sure that everybody’s calling plays from the same playbook. They’re the fundamentals that have to be covered. We get that, but you got to make it conversational. You got to get creative. You got to get a little bit fun. Mary talked about introducing family and pets and personality and bringing people who are remote together and actually utilizing the remote situation to your advantage where you can pull in personal things a little bit more easily, show people your homes or again, your family and friends. Just switch it up. Get people more engaged. Get people acting like people. It’s so important.

These aren’t just employees. They’re people. They have personalities. And when those personalities come through, training becomes easier. Training becomes less difficult, less onerous, less of a lift. It becomes more enjoyable, and it becomes more effective when it’s enjoyable. So, we really encourage you to do as much of that as you possibly can in these situations. Mary, anything to add?

Mary Charles:

Yeah, there’s a comment that Mark posted, and some other folks chimed in. We’re setting up a separate laptop and having the connection as what it looks like for the remote participant. I know that’s something I’m planning to do at our kickoff so that I can have somebody monitoring that experience and really encouraging people to participate via chat and calling those out. So, we’re brainstorming ideas about getting people more involved right now, but that was a great one. And then, we had another comment on fun icebreakers also, prior to a formal session are helpful, as well. And I agree. And I was just looking at Sandra’s picture of her and her dog and I thought, “See, that’s a perfect example where we get a little insight into who she is.”

Sandra Masters:

That’s Little Sister, and she keeps quiet for a biscuit.

Jonathan Carlson:

There you go. Exactly. Exactly. So, I think we get the point. Let’s make this training as fun as possible. It is work, but we spend the majority of our time at work and we need to make it fun, and that couldn’t be more true right now when people are feeling really disconnected.

I want to highlight a customer example, actually, John Hancock. They took a really people-focused approach to their sales kickoff recently. First and foremost, one thing they did that I thought was really smart was they broke their training into manageable chunks. I think they said, “We’re going to do no more than four hours of training at a time, and there’s going to be a lot of breaks built in.”

That’s so important. I know we’ve all been on those endless Zoom calls. I’ve been on full-day Zoom calls where by the end, it could be a really compelling topic that we’re talking about, and I’m just totally done. I’m spaced. I don’t have anything to say. My brain is fried. I think everybody can identify with that, and we really want to avoid that in group training situations like this. So, first they broke it into manageable chunks. 90% of the content from their meeting was pre-recorded, so that allowed everybody who was involved in the training to get the training right and to use their time efficiently and delivered the most effective messaging possible. But they had time intros that made the content feel live, which is great. It made it feel a little bit more spontaneous, a little bit more in the moment, even though they were using pre-recorded material.

So, it’s just an easy little trick that I think made the content more effective and made the delivery of the content more effective. And also, sort of hammering on this make training fun initiative, they had tons of virtual activities for families. They had a musical concert. They had a drawing session for kids. They had yoga and meditation breaks, a happy hour, and other events that just brought people together even though they couldn’t all be together in person. It doesn’t take a lot to do this stuff. It’s not like you need to hire a professional band and really blow it out of the water, although if you can do that, you’ve got my blessing. Go for it. That sounds great. But you just have to make it personal and make it clear that the point of this training is not just to drive information into somebody’s head. In fact, it’s not an effective way to train. You want to show that you’re invested in your people. So, I think they did this really well. All right, Mary,

Mary Charles:

You didn’t mention we had a fantastic virtual magician, which sounds ridiculous. This guy was amazing.

Jonathan Carlson:

He was good.

Mary Charles:

And everybody loved him. If anybody wants his info, send me a note on LinkedIn. But this guy was great.

Jonathan Carlson:

And I was skeptical. I didn’t think that a magic show was going to translate virtually.

Mary Charles:

It was very fun.

Jonathan Carlson:

And I was wrong. He was incredible.

Mary Charles:

Yeah.

Jonathan Carlson:

So, lots of stuff you can do.

Sandra Masters:

And I’ll just chime in here for just a second. After we get done today, I could show you a magic trick that you could do with your audience. It’s kind of an energizer, but we’ll do it at the end.

Jonathan Carlson:

Oh wow. That’s a tease right there from Sandy. We’ll have to-

Sandra Masters:

You got to stick around at the end [inaudible 00:30:38] magic trick. It’s super easy and fun.

Jonathan Carlson:

We’re going to hold you to it. All right. Mary, why don’t you take the next section on diversifying training elements.

Mary Charles:

Sure. Thanks, John. So, what are some of the other kind of fun things you can do for for virtual hybrid, any way that you’re delivering your training or kickoff? You can send something to your attendees. We did this for our kickoff last year. It was a theme called Rev Your Engines. And everybody got a box that looked like kind of a racing flag. And inside there were a variety of things that connected us together, and we would bring them out during various points of the sessions, and people got a real kick out of it. And it just made it more interactive, more fun, and everybody had that shared experience. So, I encourage you to do that. For Lunch and Learns, we send out Uber Eats or other types of gift cards to people that they can order their lunch. We did that during kickoff, but we’ve done it for other trainings, as well.

And it shows appreciation for your employees and the fact that you’re taking time out of their lunch break, which most of us don’t do anymore, have a lunch break. But giving them that kind of a little bit of a bonus. And then, we do quizzes. I don’t know if people use Kahoot! or other types of platforms, but we certainly incorporate those and small panels and breakout sessions. So, one of the things that I’m trying to be mindful of, and I know it’s going to be an interesting challenge, is when we have these hybrid events where we have people who are live and we have people who are virtual, we have to really think about… We’re trying to use a lot of the live session time for small breakout groups and breaking out by team. So, we’ve got to make sure the technology will support that and that we organize these remote breakout groups, maybe having someone help facilitate those who’s actually physically on site.

So, that orchestration is going to be really, really important. But again, helping people feel included that they get the full value out of it. But the whole point of doing all this work asynchronously, a lot of this learning asynchronously is so that when you’re together live, whether it’s physically or virtually, using that time for the most collaborative efforts, most interactive sessions that you can have, so that it’s not all lecture, or it’s not just someone standing in front of the room delivering a PowerPoint. You don’t need to be together to do that. We certainly know that after what we’ve been through. So, what can we do when we’re together in person? How do we make that bonding time happen, but also really getting the best thinking of the team bottling up those great ideas. That’s always what people say is most… That’s the most valuable part of bringing the sales team together is really the sharing of ideas, the telling of stories, and capturing that.

So, that’s really what we’re going to focus on this year that will be different than what we’ve done in the past. And we’re still going to use all the pre-meeting videos and couple of Lunch and Learns along the way. And I think the benefits going to be huge. And people said last year after we did it… John, I don’t know if you recall this, but people said, “Wow, that was actually, except for not having the party, the sales party, it was actually better.” They got more value out of the information by consuming that over time as opposed to being in a room for a couple of days. And so, we’re actually cutting the amount of time in the room down probably about half. So, rather than two full days, it’s probably going to be spread out over a couple of days, half-day sessions. So, we’re looking forward to getting everybody together.

Jonathan Carlson:

Yeah, that’ll be great. And apologies. I don’t think we actually talk about this, but I want to make sure that people remember post training is really important to consider here. And Mary was talking about all the pre-meeting activity that you should do in order to improve learning, but make sure that you’re recording all these sessions. Anything that’s not pre-recorded, record it, right? You can chop it up into digestive chunks or topical chunks and share those with your team afterwards and make sure that they have access to it so that they can learn it over and over again, watch it on their own time when they need it. That’s how we learn. We don’t learn all at once. We just don’t do it that way. It’s not effective.

That’s actually a lot of what Allego is built on is that premise that there’s a better way to learn than all in one tsunami of information. So, drip it out before the meeting. Optimize your time in the meeting it during your live time and fill it out with great tactics like these that we’re talking about here. And then afterwards, continue to drip it out and make it available to people when they need it and they will learn it and retain it better. So, I just wanted to make sure we hit on that point. All right.

And our final tip of the day. Mary, I think this one is definitely yours. I think you have a personal connection to it. Proactively reduce your stress.

Mary Charles:

I’m always looking for ways to reduce my stress even when preparing for a webinar, which is why the two of us do it together, so it’s not as stressful. Well, so sometimes people ask me this question when you talk about doing, “Oh, you’re going to do all this pre-work and virtual and asynchronous and all this stuff. Isn’t that a lot harder than just one or two days to plan for of a live event?” And actually, isn’t harder. It’s just different. And the benefit is, I think there’s a lot you can do.

At Allego, we’re talking about this idea of frontstage backstage as it applies to selling. Our president and our CEO wrote a book about mastering virtual selling. But it really got me thinking about how does that apply to training and enablement? There’s a lot you can do backstage before the event to take that pressure off of that day has to be perfect. And what if something goes over time? Or what if somebody doesn’t show up or someone’s sick. I once broke my ankle on the way to a kickoff and wasn’t able to go. So, things happen. It takes away all those kinds of pressures where you can really plan ahead of time and use a lot of the pre-meeting and do a lot more backstage and asynchronously as opposed to the synchronous session. And I found it to be really refreshing and much less stressful. And I’m looking forward to balancing that this year, as well.

One of the things I really want to emphasize with this point is you have a lot more flexibility. If you really open your mind to it, you have a lot more flexibility than you did in the past. So, crowdsourcing content, if you have somebody who’s remote, whether it’s a customer or a subject matter expert who can’t be physically there or can’t do a virtual session for you, you can record that and play that recording as if it were live.

And you were talking about that before, John. We did that at our kickoff last year. People didn’t know that the sessions weren’t live. So, if you’re doing virtual, you can definitely use those during the virtual session. I do that in new hire all the time. Give yourself some,, we call it breathing spaces. Encourage. If you have everybody on camera, think about, “Hey, you know what? We’re going to take the next 10 minutes. Everybody turn off your cameras. I’m going to provide you a link. You’re going to go watch these two short videos, and then come back when you finish and we’re going to talk about it. It gives you a minute to just relax. You’re off camera. You don’t have to think about what’s happening. Am I monitoring the chat? Am I doing all these things? And save the in-person stuff, as I said before for that really interactive, meaningful piece.

But I just think if you really think about it, you have more flexibility both for you and for your learners so that they consume the information when it works for them. And we are responsible for sales people. That’s one of the most important things is that flexibility. And we can all do that.

And rewarding compliance. I’m lucky I don’t have a lot of challenges with compliance, but recognizing people or doing a drawing or whatever you can do to get them to do that pre-work. If you’re providing a lot of value and you have leadership involved, chances are you’re going to get good compliance, that people are going to participate and be eager to do so. Make sure you give them a lot of dessert and not too many vegetables. At least, that’s what my 10-year-old son likes, so I’m thinking that works with most people.

Jonathan Carlson:

Definitely salespeople, I think.

Mary Charles:

Yeah.

Jonathan Carlson:

10-year-olds. Yeah, I think that’s right. Now, this is awesome. The crowdsourcing content is a big one. And I think it actually expands beyond sales training. It’s something we talk about so much here and in terms of dispersing the load. So many of us within a company have knowledge that can be shared. But so often, we put the weight of training on people like Mary. And listen, Mary is incredibly knowledgeable and puts on incredible training programs, but she can’t be successful, or she can be even more successful, if everybody involved in the training participates and contributes their knowledge and helps one another learn, right? If we make learning a communal activity, if we make that part of our company culture, everybody’s going to benefit from that. And I think, too often, we place the full weight of training onto one or two or three people, whereas really it should be a communal effort. So, I encourage you guys to think about that and incorporate that mindset into your next training session.

To the next slide. So, one more real-world case study for you guys. This customer crowdsourced SKO content and had a lot of success with it. It’s a good example of what I’m talking about. They asked their reps to share best practices for selling one of their products. And rather than just getting up in front of the class and sharing their thoughts, they were really encouraged to use Allego to use our platform to make it fun and creative. So, they would record themselves sharing best practices. Some of them dressed up in costumes. Again, they brought in family members and pets and props. And they really made this knowledge sharing fun and personal. And once they actually got to the kickoff, the top five were shared, and they all voted on who should win, who presented the best practices. Again, not complicated, but really effective in terms of getting people invested in this process and making learning fun. It’s a recurring theme, but it’s a critical one.

So, just an example of how you can get creative with this kind of thing and get people involved and get… Sellers want to win. So, make training a competition when you can. Make them put some skin in the game. And I think you’ll see some results. Also separately, just worth calling out. And this goes into the post-training initiatives that I was talking about. They reinforce learning from their training session. So, when they would cover a topic within their training session, they would create a flash drill in Allego based on that topic. So, they would quiz the reps as to what they learned and make sure that knowledge stuck. It forced them to consider it outside of just the pure in-person training session. And they found that highly effective. So yeah, really, really awesome to see our clients getting creative and getting the reps engaged with these training sessions.

So, that is it. We have covered the five tips. We talked about how to set the stage for training. We talked about how to focus on the pre-meeting and making sure that folks come to the meeting ready and enabled with the knowledge that they need to be able to succeed during the live sessions. We talked about how to connect people and how that’s more important than ever in a hybrid world in terms of both making true personal connections, as well as thinking about the technology needs that you have to bring people together. We talked about diversifying train training elements, making sure that it’s not just a OneNote, one size fits all session, emphasizing small group breakouts. And then, Mary, of course just talked about proactively reducing your stress, leaning on others to help carry the load, and making it a training that is truly built by the full community of your sales team rather than just a couple of people. Mary, anything you want to add in summary on any of these points?

Mary Charles:

Yeah, I think we covered… A couple of key themes that came out is the creativity and the flexibility, that those are going to be key for all of us in moving forward in the hybrid, sales-training world.

Jonathan Carlson:

Yeah. Alrighty. So, I’m sure we do have a few questions, Sandy. Before we get to them, we just want to draw your attention to some new content that we just published. The Hybrid Sales Kickoff Playbook, How to Train Your Sellers in a Virtual World. Obviously, highly applicable to this conversation. Takes a lot of the same points, but takes it a few steps further, gives you some more examples. I love this piece. I think it’s really, really helpful. You can either visit Allego.com/sko or if you’ve got your smartphone handy, you can just open up your camera and scan that QR code, and it’ll take you right to the landing page, as well. So, I encourage you to check that out. And with that, Sandy, I think we can go to Q&A.

Sandra Masters:

Yes. And before we go to Q&A, I do want to ask a question of our audience. What’s one idea or what’s one of the tips that you are going to try in your next sales kickoff event? I’m just curious. Let’s flood the chat for Jonathan and Mary. Thank you so much. We’re getting great comments about your presentation today. So, go ahead. Think about what’s one tip or idea that you heard today that you’re going to try. And we do have a couple of questions that came in, so we’ll get to those.

Jonathan Carlson:

Sure. Yeah.

Sandra Masters:

We want to thank our sponsor Allego for lending your talents and time to us at SMM Connect and Training Mag Network.

Jonathan Carlson:

Oh, it’s a pleasure to be here.

Mary Charles:

Thank you [inaudible 00:45:41].

Sandra Masters:

Mark’s going to add more recorded video. What else?

Jonathan Carlson:

We’re definitely high on that, as you could tell.

Sandra Masters:

Yes, the pre-meeting goody box from Joshua. Diane dripping out information before and after the training. Bob, I really love the best practice contest idea that was shared on the last slide. Thank you, Bob. And Nancy will consider pre-recorded segments to take the pressure off. Love it. Love it. Love it. All right. Couple questions that came in. Mark is asking what resource do we have for crowdsourcing subject matter experts?

Jonathan Carlson:

Yeah, so I’m assuming the question, and Mark, if I’m getting this wrong, feel free to correct me, but are you asking in terms of the technology that you can use? Because I think there’s a few. Certainly I would promote our own platform. I think Allego is great, but you can use any sort of system that allows you to easily solicit video recordings from people. We really do think that video is the most effective way to get subject matter experts involved. It’s just the best medium. So, any platform where you can easily share with somebody and have them record themselves sharing just a quick snippet of information. When we talk about pre-recorded material, especially from SME, subject matter experts, we don’t need a whole course. We’re not asking for a 30-minute dialogue from [inaudible 00:47:14]. We’re asking for a couple of minutes of information just asking for their perspective.

It’s so important for sellers to be exposed to SMEs throughout the organization, not just from sales, but from product and engineering and marketing to get those outside perspectives, so they understand how the whole organization fits together. So, even just hearing a couple of minutes dialogue from those experts outside of sales will be very helpful. And I think, in terms of motivating people to contribute that content… That’s another question we often get is, “How do I get subject matter experts to volunteer their time and information?” I think it’s actually underrated how much those people want to be involved in sales training and in the sales process. Sales is like the report card for any company. At the end of the day, you’re reporting on earnings. You’re reporting on revenue. That’s all driven by sales. People in other departments. People from across the organization want to be involved in that. They want to help the company grow.

So, positioning it to them in that way is really helpful. Saying, “Hey, my sellers need to hear from you. They need to hear your perspective in order to become more effective, and you can really help move the needle for the company.” That’s often all it takes, and it’s just establishing, not only within the sales team of culture of connectivity, but across the entire organization, that culture where everybody feels like they’re pulling in the same direction and fighting towards the same goal line. So, if there’s more to it, Mark, that you’re looking for, feel free to post again. But I think that should cover it.

Sandra Masters:

And we did have one other question that came in from Bob. Any rule of thumb for ideal length for micro-learning sessions?

Mary Charles:

Good question. Good question. Well, I like to say in the real world that you’re all part of a 10-minute video is no big deal. But in our company, a 10-minute video puts people to sleep. So, I onboard new hires all the time, and I have to be really mindful of this. So, I think if you do something that’s more than five minutes, know that someone’s attention is starting to wane if you’re doing something asynchronously.

So, what I like to do is if it goes more than that, I’ll put in some breaks in it with a topic for somebody. “Jot down a few ideas about this subject.” Or, “Post a comment here on what you think.” Or a quiz question. But you have to have some disruptor to get them reengaged, and you need to be doing that at least every three or four minutes. So, I would never put out a video today that’s more than 10 minutes. If I had more than 10 minutes of content, I’ll break it up into chunks, bite-size pieces. But most people today are used to short videos and probably shorter answers to that question than what I just gave.

Jonathan Carlson:

No, I’m with you. The shorter, the better, as long as it’s effective. Right?

Mary Charles:

Mm-hmm.

Jonathan Carlson:

And yeah, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened up a video and I’ve seen that it’s 15-minutes long, and I’m like, “It’s not going to happen. I’m not going to do it [inaudible 00:50:15] unless you’re able to play it.

Sandra Masters:

Do you have any clients that are sending out links to videos via text messaging?

Jonathan Carlson:

Text messaging links from… Of people using-

Sandra Masters:

Videos. I mean delivering it right to the phone of the rep.

Jonathan Carlson:

Oh yeah. I mean the nice thing about Allego is that we have a mobile app.

Sandra Masters:

Okay.

Jonathan Carlson:

So, all of our videos are delivered directly to both the both the web experience as well as the people’s phone. So, that’s really, really helpful. But yeah. That’s actually a good point, Sandy. Making sure that whatever content you’re sharing is easily accessed via mobile is huge.

Sandra Masters:

Right.

Jonathan Carlson:

Because even… It’s so funny. I remember a conversation that we were having at the beginning of Covid, which is like, “Does mobile matter anymore? Everybody’s going to be at home in front of their computers. I don’t think they’re going to use their phones.” That’s just not true. People are attached to their phones. That’s how they consume content. So, it’s really important to meet your audience where they are, in terms of how you deliver content to them. So, good catch. Good point.

Sandra Masters:

Yeah. And I do want to, again, thank you so much on behalf of SMM Connect and Training Magazine Network. I’m going to go ahead and thank our sponsor, Allego. And Jonathan, I’ll have you stop sharing your screen. And after I stop the recording, I know maybe some people want to know that special little magic trick. So, you all have a great rest of your day. I’m going to stop the recording. And thanks again, Allego.

 

About this Webinar

Today, there are lots of ways to get hybrid sales training and enablement wrong.

But fear not!

In this webinar, we reveal the most common pitfalls we’re seeing right now, and explain how you can approach hybrid training successfully. You’ll learn why it requires more flexibility, more awareness of equity and inclusion, and new technologies in order to be successful—but also why it can be even more effective and engaging than traditional training has ever been.

And who better to learn from than Allego’s Mary Charles, the Sales Enablement Director of a sales enablement technology company! She is joined by Allego’s Senior Director of Marketing, Jonathan Carlson, together they will guide you through the latest and greatest best practices for hybrid sales training, including specific ideas for your upcoming sales kick-off events

Topics Covered

  • Models for learning that sellers like and boost knowledge retention
  • Ways to keep remote sellers connected to their team and part of the company culture
  • How to leverage asynchronous video and collaboration leading up to training events
  • Proven tips, tricks, and time-savers for enablement practitioners

 

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