Recently, we had what could have been the “perfect storm” for a web-based skills training.
We needed to create a new behavior and skills in people who never expected these responsibilities. Classroom and blended training weren’t an option.
All participants had been with the company for two to three decades, and many had little knowledge of the web-based platform. Our solution was a series of 10 web-based trainings delivered twice a week over a 5 week period.
While you might think, “you’re crazy, Kendra!” In fact, the training was a tremendous success. Participants rated it a 4.5 overall on a scale of 5.0 and actually demonstrated their new skills on the job six months later.
Web-based training is a viable delivery model for skills training. In fact, we’ve found it to be so successful in achieving behavior change that we’ve migrated all our sales training programs to web-based training.
Participants’ behavior change and clients’ business results have convinced us of the value of training over time. And since it’s not generally feasible to go on site weekly for a face-to-face training, we’ve turned to the web.
You can have the same successes with your sales teams.
Here are eight tips for you that we use to ensure the delivery, training and retention are successful.
- Limit the participant group to 15 to 17 people, especially when training a new skill. This allows for high levels of interaction and enables the instructor to identify people who may be struggling with the content.
- Engage people as they log-in before the session starts just as you would in the actual classroom; use it as an opportunity to see who did their homework and to continue building relationships. In a series of web-based trainings with the same participants, help the people on the other end feel like they know you and that you know them.
- Convey high energy through your voice. Think of a morning radio personality. These aren’t dull, monotone people. Your voice will also help communicate your approachability so participants want to engage you either during the session through chat or raising their virtual hands, or privately after the session through email.
- Plan ways to keep participants involved. Call on people by name to engage them in conversation and provide learning accountability. They need to know that logging in doesn’t count as attendance!
- Build practice into the training. Two ways to virtually observe whether participants are truly grasping content are to use scenarios and discussion, or utilize polling questions to gauge comprehension. Use the power of your platform to identify where people aren’t getting it so you know where to go into more in-depth.
- Portray control and confidence during activities. If you’re uncomfortable, learners will follow your example and the activity won’t work. If there’s silence while the learners work on a project, use that time to offer short tips related to the activity. Know what you want covered during the debrief and how you’ll engage everyone if they don’t volunteer information.
- Assign practice assignments between sessions. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this type of training is the opportunity to go deep on one topic during each session and then give homework to apply it to their work situation. As a result, they’re learning more effectively and with more confidence. Homework cautions: make sure the assignments aren’t busywork, and be sure you debrief in the next session so they know you’re holding them accountable.
- Be familiar with the web-based training platform. Know what its capabilities are and be prepared for technical difficulties. Be aware of workarounds so the training can continue seamlessly no matter what happens!
Finally, as the web-based portion of your training ends, be sure you have a strong reinforcement program in place to ensure participants’ remember to use their new skills. Then monitor their skill development progress it all with a skills assessment.