Traditionally, pre-sales training could be extremely isolating—and boring. Often, sales geographically dispersed representatives are expected to tackle a pile of course materials (with likely a few unappealing assessments) on their own. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
Case in point: Last year, I attended a MOOC in which the facilitator did a great job of motivating participants before the actual class began. He sent out eye-catching videos, games, and short quizzes that significantly piqued our interest and curiosity about the upcoming learning session. To stimulate collaborations and reduce wasting class time with introductions, he used Whatsapp, an app that enabled learners to share our personal backgrounds and learning goals with others.
Impressed by this experience, I wondered: "Why can't we do the same with our sales training?" I decided to find ways to get our learners eager to share their time and knowledge with us by embracing and integrating technology into our pre-training sales sessions.
How many of you have used Facebook, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, and other social media tools to engage learners prior to the training session? I personally enjoy using Whattsup to send small quizzes to my learners, and I often create special interest groups in Facebook or LinkedIn.
Indeed, I have found that small quizzes and polls work very well with social media. They quickly involve learners with the topic and allow facilitators to collect statistics from a large or dispersed group. I usually wait to present the quiz or poll results during the face-to-face training sessions. I find that this strategy engages learners, stimulates curiosity, entices learners to interpret the information, and generates a positive attitude toward the upcoming session.
Animated videos can be a great tool to motivate participants in a unique and compelling way. They allow you to customize scenarios and characters, as well as showcase specific elements of learning.
All you need is one or two minutes of content to engage and delight the audience. The cost effectiveness of producing an animation film is surprisingly low, particularly in Brazil and India, where short films can be produced at a fraction of the cost.
However, if developing your own videos isn’t possible at this time, TED and 99U are handy alternatives. They offer a large variety of inspiring videos to spark learners' imagination and elicit contributions. Edutopia.org, founded by George Lucas Education Foundation, is another useful tool with a wide variety of videos, cases, and interviews with global thought leaders in various fields.
For instance, we received excellent feedback when we sent the Simon Sinek TED Talk , “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” prior to a leadership training event last year. Likewise, we recently forwarded a video from Khanacademy.org called "Meet the Skin,” before a newcomers' training session. This video provided a foundation about skin anatomy and physiology, so learners arrived to class with a more homogenous knowledge level that clearly stimulated class discussion and participation.
Book excerpts and summaries
Sending out reading materials prior to learning events is a standard operating procedure for most organizations. But these need to be especially captivating—as they are competing for precious time. One option that I find particularly useful is Readitfor.me. The service currently offers more than 130 books, with corresponding videos, audio files, and workshop guides summarized into attractive 12-minute videos. Better yet, learners can watch them in their computers or their mobile devices.
No matter what method you decide to use, engaging people before training is one of the best ways to start a learning experience that achieves maximum results. What tools do you use or think could be interesting?