Engagement Tactics for Remote Sales Training Programs
“How am I going to be certain that my team actually pays attention, instead of dismissing it as just another corporate mandate or Zoom call?” — Every remote sales leader
In the age of COVID-19, remote training is king. Although remote training has its perks, training your sales staff requires high levels of engagement and face-to-face conversations, which are much harder to execute over a Zoom call. Since you can’t read your audience when they may not even have their cameras on, it can be quite difficult to know that your team is fully engaged. By providing your salespeople with a few guidelines and presentations that are formatted for collaboration, you’ll be able to deliver key updates more effectively and with higher retention.
Preparing for your training session
It’s important to prepare live, synchronous training sessions for your sales team, as the benefits of pre-recorded, asynchronous videos have been shown to be less effective for knowledge retention
“In particular, the use of pre-programmed video contents to deliver learning materials negatively affects learning engagement, which in turn reduces perceived learning effectiveness and satisfaction.”
So, before your training session, you’ll need to prepare a few essentials for your sales team:
- Prepare an interactive shared Google slides presentation
Google slides is a good tool for both lecturing and engaging activities to reinforce the training material. If you’re working with a small training group, then allowing your team to collaborate on an activity through the shared slide-deck is a good way to ensure that everyone is engaging. If you’re working with a larger group, Google slides tends to run into problems, so making a traditional PowerPoint and sharing your screen may be ideal in that setting.
- Send the agenda and slide deck to your sales staff before the session
Sharing the session’s agenda and slides ahead of time will both allow your sales staff to know what’s to come and allow them to make sure that they have access to the slides ahead of time, so that no technical problems occur on the day-of.
During the training workshop
Once you’ve created and shared your interactive slide-deck and agenda, you’ll need to engage your team during the training workshop:
- Make sure everyone has their cameras turned on
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Especially in sales onboarding and training environments where conversation and collaboration are an essential component of the material, it’s necessary for your team to have their cameras turned on.
- Play an energizer game at the start of the session
An excellent way to bring your team’s full attention into the workshop is by playing a game at the very start of your meeting. Playing a game is not only fun for everyone, but it encourages everyone to join the conversation in a light-hearted setting. For groups that have either never met before or only met on a few occasions, a game like Connection is perfect. For groups that are familiar with one another, games like Shake Down or Story Around the Circle will do the trick.
- Know that attention spans are short
Nobody likes to sit through a long and boring lecture, and more so for a Zoom lecture. Now I know you might be thinking “well they better be able to pay attention, it’s their job to,” but the reality is that it’s much easier to lose focus in a Zoom meeting than in an in-person one. Make sure that the information you need to deliver is concise and purposeful, otherwise you risk losing the interest and engagement of your salespeople.
- Collaborative group activities
Once you’ve warmed up your group and taught the material you need to get through, your sales team will need to practice the skills they’ve just learned. Introduce the role-playing, planning, brainstorming, reflecting, etc. activity to your team and make sure that your instructions are clear and concise.
If your group is small enough, collaborating on the same slide deck might make the most sense. But if you prefer smaller teams to collaborate, then creating breakout rooms (if you’re using Zoom) and having one person from the group make a copy of the slide-deck and share it with their team would be ideal.
For brainstorming activities, you might think to place different colored stickies (one color per person) on your slides to allow the team to create and share ideas. For role-playing activities, you might use the space to record the conversation path of your teammates’ role-playing scenarios.
Once your salespeople have absorbed all of the information and engaged in collaborative exercises, it’s important to reinforce that knowledge to assure that they’re able to recall it. Usually, knowledge reinforcement takes the form of a quiz or test, but your team doesn’t like to take them and you don’t like to grade them. Why bother? Instead, try gamifying the test-taking process.
According to Professor Karl Kapp at Bloomsburg University, students benefit from gamification’s ability to motivate students to problems solve (Kapp, 12). Additionally, it’s been found that employing friendly competitions in a learning setting acts as a motivational factor for students as well:
De Kabeza, a live-hosted trivia platform, offers a well-rounded solution by engaging your sales staff with gamification through fun trivia and friendly competition, all while reinforcing the knowledge they just learned.
By providing your salespeople with a clear agenda of the training workshop ahead of time, a collection of hands-on activities throughout the workshop to apply their knowledge, and a means to gamify the knowledge reinforcement process, your sales team will come out better prepared engage with their clients and get closing quicker.