How to Handle Shift to Virtual Training

Sales Training | Virtual Training

On this episode, SRG's CEO and Managing Director Norman Behar shares best virtual training tips when considering moving sales training to the virtual classroom.Question: 

We’re finding within the Health Care segment, there is a strong shift to deliver more learning via VILT than in-person training due to budget constraints and business needs. Any suggestions on how to best handle this need?

 

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Video Transcript

It's a great question. It's something we see not only in healthcare but any other industry that has large distributed sales teams.
 
If you think about the financial considerations, what's driving this trend are companies coming to the reality that travel, lodging, and time out of the field is a huge cost. I do think it's a worthwhile expense, but at the same time, in many cases, it represents as much as 50% of the total training budget.
 
So from an L&D perspective, we would much prefer blended programs. A blended program would start after customization with pre-work that the sales reps would do in the field. Then they'd come in for a two-day, in-person workshop, groups of 16 to 20 participants, and then you would follow that up using virtual instructor led training.
 
Maybe creating some grouped cohorts of six to eight participants where they would have a series of virtual instructor led reinforcement sessions, and then use a series of e-tools and planners for skills adoption as part of those reinforcements and for program sustainability.
 
But the reality is, given budget constraints, you may need to swap out that traditional workshop with the series of virtual instructor led sessions. So imagine that workshop was initially two business days, roughly 12 hours of content, you could divide that into six two-hour segments and offer those on a weekly or biweekly basis.
 
We would suggest, based on our own experience that two hours is about ideal. Anything longer than that, you start to really test people's patience; and if you go much shorter, by the time you get everyone involved and engaged in the training, the session might be a bit short.
 
We've had great experience with two-hour sessions, again weekly or biweekly. The key there though is to keep the group size small, so in a traditional classroom, where you may have 12 to even 24 participants, for the virtual classroom, we would recommend somewhere between six and 12 participants. This allows you to get everyone involved in the training to have frequent interactions, even as frequently as every five minutes with quick questions, group discussion, exercises and role-plays to make sure everyone's involved.
 
If someone starts to drift off and you're not hearing from them, you can call them out by name, "Hey, you know, Norman, what do you think about that?" So you want to keep everyone engaged again for those two hours. Maybe assign a little bit of homework between sessions; something they should do. Say you went over a questioning model—how did they apply the questioning model last week? So that you're tying the training together from a thematic standpoint.
 
We've used this methodology for a number of years in Sales Readiness Group. We were an early pioneer in virtual instructor-led training. We've trained global sales organizations where that is the primary method of delivery due to budget constraints, and we've found that the technology has gotten better and better. The participants are engaged.
 
Again, we would prefer a blended program where part of the training was done in person, but given the realities and the budget constraints, this approach will work well, not only in healthcare, but any other industry with distributed teams.

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About Norman Behar

Norman Behar is Chairman and Managing Director of the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience, and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.