What I’ve Learned from Virtual Sales Training
Right now, sales leaders around the globe are trying to determine what is the best course of action for their sales teams. Perhaps they planned a training initiative that they put on hold or they’re waiting to roll out a new solution to their buyers, and they’re trying to wait for the right time to start ramping up their sales team on the new strategy.
It might be tough to know when to get going in this environment, but my opinion is “don’t wait.” As my dad used to say, “He who hesitates is lost.” Move now so that you don’t miss opportunity and delay results once life returns to its new normal.
For some of our customers, that preparation and potential opportunity was large enough to move forward with their sales initiatives and that meant doing them virtually. We’ve always done virtual training at Force Management, but obviously this capability has become much more important to our buyers and we’re doing more of it. Because of this, I have done several large-scale virtual workshops and training sessions these past few weeks. Today, I’m sharing my lessons learned.
I know many of you are conducting large-scale presentations and meetings. Hopefully, these learnings and best practices can help you too.
Virtual Sales Training Tips
1. Involve the group.
Focus on conversation, not lecturing.
You have to get people involved and do so early. Call on them. Don’t wait for them to volunteer; otherwise the natural extroverts will take over. They’ll overpower those who are more introverted, and your discussion will become one-sided. These extroverts are already comfortable talking and they hate silence. They’ll speak first to fill the void and less outgoing people will never have a chance to speak.
Use polls, exercises and break groups as well to leverage involvement and change up the mode of delivery of the message. If you work early on to call on people, introverts may be more willing later on or in future training sessions to speak up on their own. Avoid open-ended questions until later on, when the whole group has become comfortable with clicking un-mute and voicing their thoughts.
2. Learn the technology
No matter what platform your organization uses, become extra familiar and comfortable working with the system. Many technologies have features that can help improve engagement. Things like breakout rooms, live chat, polling questions can all help keep the energy up and keep people focused. Learn them and actually use them.
When you take the time to familiarize yourself with the tools, you’ll be able to provide more value as a facilitator by keeping conversations and topics running smoothly.
3. Schedule a run-through
As a presenter, you’ve got two choices, just like if you’re running a face-to-face meeting or workshop. You can look like you’re ready and that you’ve done this before, or you can wing it and look like someone who is unprepared and trying to react to the moment. A practice session can help your credibility and will allow you to ensure your participants get the most value from the session. We run technical and dress rehearsals to ensure that we are ready.
If your audience is new to the platform you are using, it’s a good idea to spend a little time at the top of the session providing a technology overview as well. This can help them feel more comfortable when they attempt to respond to polls or speak up during conversation, which improves participation in every valuable discussion.
4. Identify the critical moments
Every large-scale presentation has some key portions that are critical for gaining agreement or successfully moving to next steps. Work with your colleagues in advance to ensure they know their roles and are ready to offer their support of these key milestones.
For us, at Force, we work with our clients and champions to ensure they’re supportive of our efforts and will play an active role in the session. We identify in advance some critical moments for them to take the lead. Doing this will improve content flow, and hold the attention of each participant.
5. Cameras On
Everybody have your camera on, period.
Yes, there are some issues that may come up with bandwidth for some of your attendees (e.g, kids taking virtual classes, spouses working, etc…) But if at all possible, try to have people on camera all the time. It helps hold people accountable and helps the presenter “read the room”. When presenters can read the room they can better improve the pace of the discussion to slow down or pick it up based on topic comprehension.
Breaks are critical. People need to recharge. If you go on too long without a break, you will lose your audience. Run for an hour and half or two hours and then take a longer break so that people can do a little bit of their “day job” or get something to eat.
We’ve even done a couple hours, a two hour break with a little bit of individual pre-work for the next session and the two hours later in the day. This has shown to work well and keep the momentum going in every critical session.
7. Use Two Screens
This has been a game changer for me. Have one screen for you as the presenter to see everyone attending. Then, use the other one for what you’re presenting or collaborating on together. This makes it easier for you to have a separate chat window open so that you can communicate with your internal team to make changes on the fly when needed and keep up the pace of the training.
8. Assign Roles
If at all possible, keep the presenter role as just that. Use other people to help keep track of time, capture notes, manage participation, moderate chat functions, etc. Delegating the other duties helps make sure the presenter can do his/her best at ensuring an engaging session. All roles will play a critical part in providing additional value to participants during and after the session.
Make the most of every training session
Right now, the key is to leverage this time to move forward and maintain momentum in your sales training events, so use your technology to your advantage. You may even find that it brings new benefits to your organization’s ability to train and scale.
I hope some of these ideas help you in your upcoming sales training events. I’d also love to hear what’s working for you that I might have missed. Feel free to email us or tag me in any of the insights that you have found to be effective in your virtual sales training events.
As always, we stand at the ready to help you maintain momentum in your sales initiatives through virtual delivery. Reach out to us if you’d like to learn more.