4 Ways to Improve Sales Training With Video

When it comes to using video, being engaging—without being overly provocative or hokey—is key. Take what’s meaningful to sales reps in their role and, when you can, weave it into a story that will stick with them.

They each had their own style of selling and different strategies to employ, but the three competing salespeople had one thing in common: They all wanted the same piece of business. Whose training would pay off? Who was ready to deftly navigate obstacles in the sales process? Who would emerge victorious, winning the deal—and who would leave, dejected and empty-handed? Find out more on tomorrow’s episode!

It wasn’t quite The Bachelor or American Ninja Warrior, but the high stakes, suspense, and human-interest elements were there in a video series shown during a three-day workshop I used to run and sell when I worked at Xerox Learning Systems (now part of Miller Heiman Group). Throughout the three days, participants watched the story of these three salespeople unfold. Each installment was engaging, modeled best practices, and required interactivityand, as a result, stuck with participants. Our company was ahead of its time.

Now as we move into the second half of 2018, it’s time training groups recognize what’s become a sea change in how modern salespeople learn: It’s all about video. To be fair, many companies do realize they should use video for learning…but they’re not sure how. Or they’ve been told their increasingly Millennial sales force learns through video, but no one is giving them best practices.

Change is needed, and companies should commit to delivering sales training, effectively, in the way today’s learners learn best. Here are four ways you can use video for better sales training results:

  1. Show what “good” looks like. Through video, you can visually model what you want someone to do (and not do)—making best practices and pitfalls abundantly clear. Videos should be a digestible length (no longer than five minutes) and compelling, so that learning, ostensibly, isn’t “work.” One effective way to do this, as we did at Xerox, is through a multi-part story—connecting skill sets and lessons by weaving them through a larger narrative. Participants in that workshop would say they couldn’t wait for the next day to find out what happened next. They wanted to binge-watch sales training!
  2. Engage learners directly. Showing what to do is great, but you’ll get better results by taking training to the next level and making videos interactive. Back in the day, we called this “respond in role.” With this concept, participants watch a video of a typical buyer/seller interaction—for example a tough negotiation, where the buyer is hammering the salesperson to reduce his price by 50 percent. Then the workshop leader pauses the video and asks a participant to respond as if he were the rep in the video. The leader and, sometimes, peers give feedback; the video is taken off pause; and we see how the rep in the video handles it.
  3. Help learners practice. Any of us who has been videotaped giving a presentation or speech knows one thing: The video does not lie! Today’s video coaching/practice platforms allow managers and coaches to send requests to either their entire sales team (e.g., “Please deliver the new company point-of-view presentation”) or specific reps (“If a buyer were to ask you this question, how would you answer?”). Reps record themselves—with the option of re-recording until they are happy with the results—and then submit the video to their coach/manager for assessment and feedback.
  4. Record learners live. No more practice rounds; it’s time to give reps one shot at delivering their pitch (or giving their demo, handling objections, etc.) in front of their manager or other leader. Companies should record the presentation and use it as a coaching moment, so reps have a record of what they did well and which areas could use improvement. Within the next decade, reps also will be able to step into simulators—interacting with avatar buyers who prepare them for the unexpected during recorded sessions.

In short, video is most effective when used in multiple ways for learning—integrated within a rich curriculum and spawning multiple opportunities for interaction. I liken the process to learning to play golf. I can watch how the pros do it, but that’s not enough to perfect my game. And my golf coach can videotape me or have me step into a simulator, but I still greatly benefit from human coaching—reviewing the tape with my coach, and asking and answering questions as we analyze my swing.

Better Learning Interactions

As it relates to sales learning, at Brainshark, we work to use video whenever it will lead to better learning interactions. For example, during onboarding (and beyond), our reps watch videos incorporating skills and scenarios they need to master. Subsequently, they’re required to submit three- to five-minute videos (e.g., of themselves giving a demo) for manager feedback. If reps don’t meet “pass” criteria, they learn why and try again. Ultimately, reps deliver a live presentation in front of our CEO, where it’s recorded for their records as a coaching tool. Outstanding reps get recognition, with excellent videos shared on our internal content portal and through internal newsletters—becoming tribal knowledge and demonstrating to the team what “good” looks like.

Some Technical Considerations

When showing/disseminating training videos to the sales force, it’s important to ensure the video is optimized to play on any device, especially mobile. Track both video consumption, as well as engagement with—and responses to—questions embedded in the video. If engagement isn’t as high you’d like, try to find the root cause. Is there a technical problem? Is the video too long? Is it not compelling enough?

As mentioned, being engaging—without being overly provocative or hokey—is key. Take what’s meaningful to reps in their role and, when you can, weave it into a story that will stick with them. I’ve carried the lessons from that workshop video series throughout the years. Almost three decades later, I still remember which rep won the business. (They were all good, but Michael was the best!)

Jim Ninivaggi is chief readiness officer at Brainshark, Inc. (www.brainshark.com), a leading provider of SaaS-based sales enablement and readiness solutions. He leads Brainshark’s sales readiness strategypreparing the sales force to optimize every buyer interactionand has more than 30 years of experience driving B2B sales productivity. Ninivaggi previously led the sales enablement research practice at research and advisory firm SiriusDecisions, publishing more than 200 research briefs and engaging audiences at hundreds of conferences, forums, and executive presentations. He also has run and grown sales organizations, managed salespeople on the front line, and began his career as a quota-bearing sales rep. You can follow him on Twitter at @JNinivaggi or on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-ninivaggi/.

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