Unboxed Training & Technology Rebrands With Unconventional Style

When Dave and I co-founded Unboxed, we were inspired to create a modern training and technology company that would help employees acquire the knowledge, skills, and behaviors they need to succeed through fun, engaging content and delivery systems.

Over the past 9+ years, Unboxed has grown! Our unconventional approach to training and technology has been supported by an incredible customer community. As we continue to grow and innovate, we will further integrate our brand and ecosystem of products and services to educate and empower people in unconventional, uncomplicated, and unrivaled ways.

In light of that, we have decided it’s time for a fresh look, one that better illustrates our industry-leading employee training and sales enablement solutions.

Our new logo honors our “box” while pushing the boundary of what’s expected with a playful nod to “thinking outside” the box and discovery. We want our clients to feel our values of respect, excellence, simplicity, and trust in the look, feel, and sound of our new brand’s visual and verbal communication.

Unboxed Training and Technology - Logo with Trademark

Today we’re launching our new website and you’ll begin to see our new look come to life! I hope that our clients and clients-to-be identify solutions they are excited about with clear explanations and helpful resources.

We also are growing our thought leadership webinar series and providing learning from our clients of all sizes across a wide range of industries. Our goal is to be a consultative resource you come back to time and time again. If we are doing our jobs right, we are growing your business, which is what training is all about.

Thank you for your commitment and continued support!

Best regards,
Brian

Is the Best Sales Training Off-the-Shelf or Custom-Built?

U.S. companies spent 20% more money in 2017 to train their salespeople than they did to train workers in all other functions. Given that level of financial commitment, organizations need to ensure they’re investing in the best sales training and maximizing their ROI.

The best sales training should inspire, ignite, and even invigorate; helping your organization build a company-wide sales culture where team members speak the same language and relationships form easily across sectors, departments, and divisions.

While some training leaders believe they must choose between a custom-built program or an off-the-shelf solution, we believe in combining the strengths of both into one powerful program.

So, to help you select the best sales training for your organization, we’ve broken down the comparison between the two into five simple categories:
• Time
• Cost
• Content
• Behavior focus
• Delivery methods

Let’s explore each to see how the two compare.

Time

Implementing off-the-shelf sales training is often a quicker fix than creating something custom, meaning you’re able to start delivering training sooner.

In contrast, creating custom training means a few additional weeks of lead time before the program can be rolled out. The tradeoff here, though, is that custom-built programs typically have 3X the longevity when compared to off-the-shelf options.

Cost

With a lower initial price tag, off-the-shelf solutions are appealing for many when comparing the higher up-front cost of custom sales training.

However, it’s important to be mindful that off-the-shelf training typically comes with recurring subscription and licensing fees, meaning that over time, your total expense is likely to match that of a custom option. With custom training, you aren’t subject to those recurring costs as you’ll own the training outright.

Here are some quick numbers as an example. An off-the-shelf solution may cost $50,000/year, which sounds like a deal compared to the $125,000 price tag of a custom-built program. But remember, a custom program typically has a 3X longer shelf life when compared to off-the-shelf sales training. All of a sudden, the cost of the off-the-shelf solution has exceeded the cost of the custom-built program. It’s something to consider as you plan and budget.

Content

The beauty of off-the-shelf training solutions is that they offer a one-size-fits-most option, addressing needs and skill sets common to most sales teams.

Custom training takes things one step further with content tailored specifically to your organization’s business needs, products/services, brand, and culture. The benefit is learners see themselves in their training and will be better prepared to apply what they learn to their day-to-day.

Need proof? Read about how 98% of reps at Berkshire Hathaway Media Group agreed their sales training was immediately useful because it was custom-built for them.

Behavior Focus

While there is no denying that knowledge and skills can take you far in the world of sales, not all team members are natural-born sellers. Sales behaviors, though, can be taught and refined—making them a critical tool for developing and enhancing your team’s performance while improving the customer experience and positively impacting your bottom line.

Both custom training and off-the-shelf content can address this, though their approach and level of depth differ.

Delivery Methods

Although custom training more often uses modern delivery methods like interactivity, video, gamification, and social learning, some off-the-shelf solutions do incorporate some of these options as well.

However, you likely will find that the training delivery methods used in custom-built programs generate higher levels of engagement, satisfaction, and training completion than those in their off-the-shelf counterparts.

For example, AppNexus employees enjoyed their custom-built employee training videos so much, completion rates exceeded 70%. Oh, did I mention the training was optional.

What’s the Best Sales Training For Your Organization?

Here’s a quick recap.

Off-the-shelf

Custom

Time

  • Quicker to implement
  • Shorter shelf life
  • Longer to build
  • Longer shelf life

Cost

  • Less up front
  • Ongoing subscription and licensing fees
  • Higher initial cost
  • No subscriptions or licensing fees

Content

  • Addresses needs common to many organizations
  • Built to match your company’s culture and goals

Behavior Focus

  • Focuses more on knowledge and skills, broadly addresses behaviors
  • Focuses on developing great behaviors in addition to building knowledge and skills

Delivery Methods

  • May not incorporate as many interactive elements
  • Incorporates modern methods of eLearning to drive higher engagement

Bottom line: training drives results.Whether you opt for a custom-built solution or an off-the-shelf option, you can’t go wrong. Consider your timeline and specific needs to identify the best sales training for your organization.Not sure where to start? Let us help! We have nearly a decade of experience delivering client-driven sales training solutions. Connect with us today to see what we can do for your team.

Employee Rewards Programs Are For Training, Not Tenure

I remember flipping through the catalog of available rewards – clocks, watches, knives, etc. – to celebrate different milestones throughout my 20-year career at Circuit City. While these nostalgic gifts acknowledged two decades of dedication, tenure-based employee rewards programs are leftover artifacts from the early 1900s when labor union laws rewarded tenure. In the truest sense, they’re so last-century.

Forbes notes that 87% of employee recognition programs reward tenure, yet, tenure-based programs have virtually zero impact on an organization’s performance. After all, employees don’t need to perform well to earn a 20-year-reward, they just have to stay on the payroll.

Instead, Forbes recommends recognizing specific results and behaviors; making recognition easy, frequent, and social instead of top-down; and tying recognition to your company’s values and goals.

We couldn’t agree more.

So, this begs the question: does your organization reward employees simply because they stick around for decades, or because it values results and behaviors, like maximizing training opportunities, that contribute to organizational performance? By tying your employee rewards program to training, you can encourage positive behaviors that benefit the organization.

 

Employee Rewards Programs Are For Training, Not Tenure

Why Reward Employees for Training?

Zig Ziglar says it best: “The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.”

Training Industry asked the question that’s top of mind: “Is it even worth it to try and motivate people to take training? If people don’t recognize the countless benefits of additional knowledge, should you push them to participate?

Yes, you should. Because an effective training program can exponentially impact your organization’s bottom line. In a perfect world, employees would consume training modules with gusto, but in reality, they need a gentle nudge. The key is deploying enticing incentives to supercharge their motivation and make it impossible for employees to resist the lure of learning.

The goal of incentivized training is to supercharge motivation and make it impossible for your employees to resist the lure of learning.

The Rationale of Rewards

Incentive Federation Inc. reports that U.S. businesses spent $90 billion on non-cash rewards in 2015, up from $77 billion in 2013.

That’s because rewards work: rats run mazes for cheese, dogs perform tricks for treats; and people endure grueling endurance sports for a cool t-shirt and a medal. Employees will change their behavior for a desirable reward. And for the bragging rights that accompany it.

Dr. David Rock, Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, suggests organizations design motivation strategies that appeal to the brain’s social aspect and help foster a sense of affiliation. According to Rock, “social motivators activate dopamine, triggering the brain’s reward systems.”

 

What Training Should I Reward Employees For?

That’s up to your individual company and its goals. SHRM emphasizes that training-based employee rewards programs should focus on opportunities that increase the value of an individual to the company. Rewarding employees who apply what they’ve learned in real-world scenarios ensures that your training program makes a tangible difference.

Got low training completion rates? Then reward the behavior of completing the training.

Companies with performance-based problems would do better tying rewards and recognition to applying what they learn – through a quiz or real-life learning situation ‒ to solve their execution problem.

Depending on your specific situation, you can change the desired employee behavior by tying rewards and recognition to a combination of employee training and the measurable results witnessed in a timely manner.

 

Employee Rewards Ideas

So, what will your employee rewards program look like? Each organization must craft their program to its specific needs, but Training Industry suggests identifying rewards that:

  • your learners want
  • are reasonably attainable, and
  • are immediately redeemable, because if weeks pass between earning and receiving the reward, the connection is lost.

While actual reward items may vary wildly, it’s crucial that they reflect your workforce, its values, and are coveted by employees.

Budget concerns? Here’s a workaround: Employee perks like working from home one day per week, extra days off, or casual dress day make low-cost, high-bragging rights rewards with impact.

Need more ideas? The Incentive Research Fund compiled the most popular rewards categories:

most popular employee rewards

How to Reward Your Employees for Training

Many organizations are exploring how to implement employee recognition programs of their own. Gamification is one possibility, and it’s an easy way to motivate employees to learn.

Here’s an example. In 2016, we introduced Spoke Rewards, which adds real-world gamification to our social learning platform.

Learners earn Spoke Coins for completing training and being recognized by their peers in the Spoke Community. Admins can also award additional coins to employees to reward great behaviors, i.e. observing a job well done in the field.

Learners can then redeem their Spoke coins for rewards ranging from PTO to company swag, or other creative rewards the admins create.

And like magic, training engagement increases company-wide.

Our experience working with our clients to implement these reward programs has taught us that frequently recognizing people for their specific results and behaviors goes a long way. Not only is the recognition top down, it’s social and tied to each company’s values and goals.

See, I told you we agreed with what Forbes said earlier.

 

Employee Rewards Programs Glean Results

So do employee rewards programs tied to training work? According to The Incentive Research Foundation, well-constructed reward programs that address performance and motivation can increase job performance from 25 to 44 percent. A collateral benefit: increased employee engagement that could result in lower turnover rates. Forbes noted that the top 20% of companies committed to building a “recognition-rich culture” enjoyed 31% lower voluntary turnover rates.

Ready to talk about transforming your employee rewards program with incentivized training that works? Let’s start the conversation. Contact us, or leave a comment below.

Can Guided Selling Tools Improve the Customer Experience?

Pop quiz

What factor influences customers’ purchase decisions the most?

A. Price
B. Product
C. Customer experience

While price and product are good guesses, customer experience (CX) is quickly becoming the biggest influence on whether customers buy from you or a competitor. Gartner reports 89% of businesses plan to compete on the basis of CX. And by 2020, “customer experience is expected to overtake both price and product when it comes to differentiating a brand.”

But even though they see CX as critical to their success, sales reps are failing to deliver the experience their customers and prospects want.

This is where guided selling tools can help.

guided selling tools and customer experience

 

The (Broken) Circle of Trust

What’s the experience missing? Trust. In a survey of enterprises with more than $1B in revenue, Accenture found only 12% of sales executives believe their prospects and customers perceive them as trusted partners.

Without trust, sales don’t happen. Think about a time when you felt a sales rep was only out to meet their quota. Did you buy from them? You likely went with someone else whom you trusted had your best interests at heart. Someone who listened to your needs, educated you on your options, and helped you make the best decision for you, not their bottom line.

You’re not alone. According to the IDC, 50% of buyers say sales reps need to better understand the buyer’s need and objectives. And, ultimately, 1/3 of lost deals could’ve been won if the sales rep had been better informed and acted more client-oriented.

Guided Selling Tools & CX

So what is guided selling, and how can a guided selling tool help improve the customer experience? Guided selling helps sales teams gain customers’ and prospects’ trust and provide the genuine, personalized experience they’re looking for.

Guided Selling tools from Unboxed Technology

At their core, guided selling tools put humans, not quotas, first. Here are four ways that happens.

1. Understanding Customers’ Needs

Guided selling tools help reps understand the customer. The tool asks needs-based questions to engage customers and make the discovery process contextual and customer-centric. Sales reps can gather and record valuable insights about the customer’s lifestyle or background, their values and preferences, and their existing knowledge of a product or service category.

2. Educating Customers

A guided selling tool is more than a set of filters to drill down through features. For someone with expert-level knowledge, this kind of filtering system can work. But, more often than not, filters can be confusing and leave people frustrated. They don’t explain what something is or demonstrate its value.

Guided selling tools often weave in short educational modules, such as video demos or interactive tutorials, to help customers quickly and easily understand the differences between complex products and services.

3. Making Personalized Recommendations

The #1 thing sales reps can do to improve the buying experience? Put aside the generic pitch. Which is precisely what guided selling tools do. The tool not only records customer inputs, it analyzes what products and services best meet the customers’ needs and recommends the best solution based on what the customer shared.

Plus, there’s radical transparency about the value the solution provides. The recommendation is more than a what. It’s the why. Recommendation screens summarize what the customer said and show how different features relate to customer needs.

4. Giving Customers Control

All of these things culminate in a powerful feeling: control. Guided selling tools, in effect, put customers in the drivers’ seat. Their input is what drives how product or service options are narrowed down. They can explore and compare different solutions and immediately see the value a solution provides them.

Humans Buy from Humans

At the end of the day, you’re not in the sales business. You’re in the business of helping humans. Using a guided selling tool is your opportunity to show that you and your team are authentic, trustworthy humans to work with, which will only help your customer experience, and in effect your bottom line.

Meet Unboxed Advisor

Want to see guided selling in action? Check out Unboxed Advisor. Advisor has helped enterprise sales teams not only improve the customer experience, but also increase YOY sales by up to 60% and sales rep productivity by up to 40%.

The Advisor selling tool for Samsung in an Android tablet

Employee Onboarding Best Practices to Reach Your A-Game Faster

You invest time and money recruiting for an open position in your organization. At last: the new hire’s first day. Even if they walk through your doors with industry experience, they are essentially a newbie. How do you ramp them up to speed so they reach their A-game faster?

Following these employee onboarding best practices is a great place to start!

Onboarding Best Practices Hero

Whether your newbie makes $15/hour or $150,000/year, every employee deserves a thorough, informative, and fun onboarding experience. It reflects well on your company and pays off in the long run.

Don’t Confuse Onboarding with Orientation

Yes, they both start with an O and are crucial to new hires, but they’re different.

Orientation is more of a checklist, a company-centric event. Similar for employees in all levels of the organization. Compliance, benefits, emergency contacts. Email, computers, calendars. Orientation is a nuts and bolts activity that ends when all boxes have been ticked.

But post-orientation, let’s say Day 4, is your new hire a fully functional member of the team?

You wish.

That’s where onboarding comes in. Onboarding is a process that (ideally) creates a confident, engaged, and valuable contributor. It’s job-specific, and represents an employee’s path to productivity.

It often lasts longer than we think: from Day 1 until the newbie is a productive, contributing member of the team. That can be 30, 60, 90 days – or up to two years! ‒ depending on job complexity. This period is crucial for new hires. It’s an opportunity for your organization to connect in a meaningful way to help the employee gain confidence in their role, become engaged with the company, and maximize productivity.

So, what are some employee onboarding best practices to help you achieve these objectives? We have some knowledge to share.

Create an Inventory of Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviors

Onboarding should cover the basic knowledge, skills, and behaviors (KSB) necessary for an employee’s specific responsibilities. A best practice is to create an inventory and strategic assessment of the KSB needed for the job – to define the fastest path to productivity.

Much of the early job knowledge training can be experiential, self-paced learning. New employees need info, but can discover it themselves through interactive teaching tools, rather than having someone “teach” them. Unfortunately, thick binders and PowerPoint presentations are the norm in most companies.

But do you really want to be most companies? We didn’t think so. Create high-quality training that engages learners, helps knowledge stick, and streamlines the path to productivity.

Mix it Up with Blended Learning

After identifying training topics that support the required knowledge, skills, and behaviors your new hires need, consider offering engaging content in multiple modalities, to reflect the three types of learning: visual, kinesthetic and auditory.

The trick is to select the learning modality that best aligns with each of the job’s KSB topics.

We all have different learning styles. Blended learning works so well because it touches on each different style, for more comprehensive training. A mash-up of learning modes such as e-learning, instructor-led, interactive workbooks, videos and animations, keeps learners engaged and helps information stick.

Blended learning becomes a new hire training best practice when it combines both the personal engagement of face-to-face training with self-guided learning. Incorporating various styles helps learners consume, retain and apply the knowledge to their jobs.

Increase Speed to Competence

Onboarding is about how efficiently a new hire becomes productive. The longer it takes, the more it costs the organization in lost time and revenue. The goal is to help them hit the break-even point – fast.

We recommend giving new employees enough information to get started in their role as quickly as possible, so they can put what they’ve learned in motion. There’s value in testing new knowledge situationally in their daily work.

But it’s a fine line: don’t let newbies loose before they are competent, or you risk damaging both the organization and their confidence.

New hire onboarding best practices also include on-the-job training and job shadowing, which can hasten productivity.

Make it Social

The best onboarding programs incorporate a high-touch from leadership, which instills in the new employee the importance of their role as viewed from the top. Don’t just leave it to HR: the department manager and team should participate.

According to The Definitive Guide to Onboarding, “56 percent of new employees thought assigning ‘an employee “buddy” or mentor’ was one of the most important things a new employee needs to get up to speed and begin contributing quickly.”

It’s comforting to have a resource who can answer questions along the path to competency.

ATD’s TD magazine describes how employees at Buffer, a social media management tool, get three buddies during their 45-day Buffer Bootcamp: a leader buddy, a role buddy and a culture buddy. We give this well-rounded approach a fist bump.

Meet and greets are another smart way for new hires to expand knowledge while building relationships horizontally and vertically across the organization.

Don’t Ignore Culture

Don’t underestimate the important role company culture plays in onboarding. Not all cultural norms are written; some must be experienced first-hand. There’s a lot more involved than just logging in and working. Are there Friday team lunches? When and where is cell phone use appropriate? What’s the deal with the break room fridge?

Cultural information isn’t always in the training manual, but is crucial to a new hire’s organizational engagement. Sharing beliefs and rituals helps newbies adapt faster.

According to Forbes, “a company’s culture is its only sustainable competitive advantage and should therefore be the centerpiece of its onboarding program.” Because, the most talented people want to work for the most desirable companies. And those talented people will drive your ongoing success.

Follow-up. Reinforce. Validate.

A BambooHR poll respondent suggested a “30-day review . . . [because] when new, you may miss important facts that make sense more once you are acclimated to a new position.”

We couldn’t agree more. Whether Day 30, 60 or 90, when your new hire starts performing their daily tasks, onboarding still isn’t complete. Continued monitoring ensures that behaviors are on-message with company expectations.

In this phase, incorporate a validation component of the training completed so far. Whether a ride-along or deep dive session with a direct manager, assess the new hire’s KSB as reflected in daily job activities. This presents an opportunity for either validation of current KSB level or follow-up with additional training as a course correction, if necessary.

One final action: when your newbie is meeting job quotas, socially engaged with the company, and officially “one of us,” it’s time to get their feedback. Ask for input about their onboarding experience. Where did you nail it? Where could you do better? Their qualitative, first-hand reviews are invaluable.

When onboarding is successful, new hires feel valued, appreciated and warmly welcomed. They know the inside jokes, what’s ok to say, and who it’s ok to say it to. They’re officially on board!

Seek Experienced Guidance

Feeling lost? Think of us as your onboarding best practices GPS: we can guide you. To get started, check out our free Essential Employee Onboarding Checklist.

Aligning KSB with various modalities of learning is our specialty. And we’ve made a splash exploring key training concepts like live action video vs. animation, microlearning and the role humor plays in learning.

We can help you craft a custom onboarding training program to skyrocket your organization’s onboarding quality and efficiency. Our custom training solutions empower newbies to experience your company culture while learning best job practices in an engaging, informative and relevant way. What’s not to love?

What are your company’s onboarding best practices? Share your feedback in the comments below or on Twitter @unboxedtech.

Ready to revolutionize your organization’s onboarding? We’ll make it happen. Let’s chat! (888) 723-9770