4 Tips to Keep Your Custom Training Programs Fresh

So, you have a shiny new training program custom-built for you. Hopefully, you designed it with an eye for growth. Even so, if there’s one thing you can count on with custom training programs and off-the-shelf alike, it’s change.

Just like you, we continue to learn with every training program we build and support. In this article, we’ll share some best practices and suggest some tips to make maintaining your training program more resource- and cost-efficient.

Let’s get started!

training maintenance

Relax – Change is Normal

First things first – it’s totally normal to need to update your customs training programs to keep them fresh. Your audience is constantly changing, tackling new projects and procedures, and counting on you to help them stay ahead of the curve.  That’s in addition to changes because of:

  • New products and services
  • Updated information or data
  • Expanded audience (new roles, departments, etc.)
  • Corporate branding changes
  • Audience survey results

Does coordinating all this take time and resources? You bet. Can it be confusing? Sometimes.

That’s why the best plan is to have a plan. And a partner that cares about the quality and cost-effectiveness of your program — from an agreement, through pilot, launch, and maintenance.

1. Start By Asking Great Questions

So what happens when you need to update your custom training programs? Who owns the edits – you or your vendor? What about the more technical stuff – like videos and animations?

Once you have a list of required changes, break it down into manageable parts. Let’s unpack some key questions and explore some options.

  1. What types of changes are needed? Do you need simple text and graphics updates, or something bigger like new video footage and updated animations? Identify and group them by type.
  2. What’s the general scope of each set of changes? At this stage, just guesstimate. We like to use t-shirt sizes like extra-small, small, medium, large, and extra-large.
  3. Which changes are urgent and which can wait? Decide which changes you need to fast-track, and which can be bundled into a larger program update.
  4. Which changes can be handled in-house? You may be able to handle some revisions with your internal team. If any changes require specialized skills or software tools, make sure you have those resources available when you need them.
  5. Where do you need outside help? Identify the gaps, whether due to timing conflicts, team capacity, or in-house skills and technology and look for a vendor who can help you move quickly. If you choose a vendor other than the one who created the original content, there may be a learning curve.

2. Plan Your Strategy

There are many ways to freshen up your training program, and your approach will likely vary depending on timing and resources. As you plan your strategy, keep the following option in mind:

  • In-house Maintenance – You can always keep updates in-house, e.g. text edits, image swaps, etc., as long as the right resources and software are available.
  • Bundled Changes – Maybe you’re applying changes after a pilot program or know you’d like to engage with a vendor on a regular basis (say, twice a year or annually) to make revisions. Bundled changes are the way to go! Your team can keep a running list of changes, and you can work with your vendor to ensure availability and understand the scope.
  • Ad Hoc Changes – This option is perfect if you don’t have a set pilot or when you know the changes will be unpredictable and urgent. Or maybe it’s a “both-and” situation, and you’ll need ad hoc changes in addition to your bundled revisions. Protecting a team with a retainer can be expensive, but it ensures that those high-value changes can be made at any time.

3. Estimate Your Cost

How much will all this cost? Honestly, it depends on the scope of the changes and the approach you take. (Check out this article that dives deeper into how much custom training costs.)

You’ll probably need some cost estimates in the early stages of planning. If you know which services and deliverables will be required, the chart below may help.

Training Deliverable Relevant Cost
Job Aid, Workbook, or an Interactive Learning Guide $
Instructor-led or Virtual Instructor-led Training $$
Animation $$$
Live Action Video $$$

 

4. Follow Best Practices

Once you’ve identified and prioritized your program changes and estimated costs, follow these best practices to ensure your updates go smoothly.

  • Make a plan and follow it – There’s no set rule for how often you need to update your training program. We recommend that you set up a formal schedule of when to review your program and make any needed updates, but also be aware of how often you may run into the need for ad hoc changes. The more you know, right?
  • Collect feedback – Ask your trainers and employees what they think about the program. Review surveys and polls; you might even run a new survey before each scheduled update to gather feedback from multiple areas.
  • Rotate different sections of your program – If your training program encompasses multiple departments or disciplines, you may want to rotate the updates, depending on complexity. For example, Sales and Customer Service may be on your regular schedule, while changes impacting field technicians may be alternated.
  • Document your process – If the processes you’ve created work well for you, document them. Use what you come up with throughout your updates and training program iterations.
  • Include maintenance in your original agreement – If you can, plan for change early. It’s inevitable. Don’t wait until you need changes to start working on a maintenance plan. Whether you’re creating the entire program in-house or partnering with a custom training provider, include a maintenance plan from the beginning.

Meet Unboxed

Whether you need a new custom training program built from the ground up or need some help updating your existing programs, the Unboxed training team is available to discuss, strategize, and help coordinate updates when you’re ready.

Just don’t wait until training program updates become the 900-lb gorilla in the room.

Employee Training Videos: What Style Is Right For You?

So, you’re considering video for your next training project? Excellent choice! For years, employee training videos have been gaining popularity, and for good reason. As a modality, videos are engaging, memorable, and easily digestible. In the span of a few minutes, learners can visualize new or abstract information in a concrete and meaningful way. Video drives content retention, makes learning a bit more fun, and is readily accessible later as refresher training.

With more and more video being consumed every day, people are becoming increasingly comfortable with it as a medium. Every day they watch videos to get the news, weather, recipes, entertainment, and more. It’s a natural next step to use video as an e-learning modality. Why not use what’s great about video to make learning more engaging?

Video Is Here to Stay

By 2025, it’s anticipated that 75% of the workforce will be Millennials – some of the heaviest consumers of video as a medium. All those cooking and cat videos on the web? They’re the folks who love it most. In fact, Cisco projects that 82% of all internet traffic will be video by 2021. So what does that mean for you? Video is here to stay. Embrace it!

The Challenge

Picking the best style for your employee training videos can seem a little daunting. How do you decide between a screencast, an animation, or a live-action video? You have a lot of choices, and that’s great! Part of the beauty of video is how much you can do with it.

And while we know it can seem a little overwhelming with all the options out there, it doesn’t have to be. Based on our experience, we recommend the following three types of employee training videos: screencasts, animations, and live action. But how do you know which of those three options to use?

When deciding which style is right for your content, we’ve found it’s best to start by thinking about what it is you want to teach. Are you transferring knowledge, teaching a skill, or modeling a behavior? While any type of video can teach knowledge, some video styles work best for demonstrating skills and behaviors. Let’s break it down.

Which Video Style is right for you?

Screencast


What is it?
A screencast shows a learner how to effectively use a tool or system. Think of it as a digital demonstration, walking learners through a tool or system with step-by-step navigation, narration, interactive elements, and more.

What’s it for?
Screencasts are great for teaching both knowledge and skills. Consider a screencast for e-learnings like systems training, app tutorials, or other UI/UX or navigational instruction. It answers questions like: How do I access the reporting tool? What information can I find there?

What’s it look like?
Screencast can range from low to medium fidelity. Low-fidelity screencasts primarily highlight tool functionality and navigation and include text-on-screen. The high-fidelity option can incorporate professional voiceover, interactivity, and custom animations to liven things up and further demonstrate concepts or best practices.

Animation


What is it?
Animations are dynamic, custom-built, and loads of fun. An animator creates art from scratch and uses your brand identity to bring everyday training topics to life. It can include everything from custom graphics, icons, and characters to dynamic text-on-screen, 3D renders, lip-syncing, and more.

What’s it for?
Animations have a wide range of uses. They’re great for teaching basic skills and knowledge. With animations, you’ll want to avoid covering anything too detailed that may require a lot of assets and visuals. Some of the best animations cover one quick topic and are used in conjunction with other training. It’s best to keep it simple, clean, and captivating.

What’s it look like?
Of the various types of employee training videos available, animations have the broadest range of fidelity options.

A low-fidelity animation primarily uses text-on-screen, music, and a few simple visuals (like icons—think infographic style). Medium-fidelity can include kinetic text, professional voiceover, and more detailed visuals like character silhouettes. High-fidelity animation incorporates everything from lip-syncing the characters to the voiceover, 3D visuals, multiple voiceover tracks, and more.

Live Action


What is it?
Depending on the content, live action video footage may be scripted or unscripted, and can be shot locally or on location. You’ll see a cast on set delivering their lines, interacting with props and each other, and a production crew working with lighting and sound.

What’s it for?
Live action video is a powerful tool for teaching skills and behaviors. It helps humanize behaviors and depict skills in action. Need to model how to interact with a customer? Want to showcase a best-in-class sales presentation? Live action employee training videos are a great option.

What’s it look like?
Live action videos tend to be medium to high fidelity and can incorporate everything from testimonials and scenarios, to simulations and more. Even low-fidelity options like video shot on a phone can be engaging, but it’s important to remember that, regardless of fidelity, it still has to be high-quality content in order to be a successful training tool.

Hype Videos

When you think of the word hype, you think of an excited tone and an upbeat, engaging style. Basically hype videos are a bit like mini movie trailers; they act as teasers of great things to come by getting learners excited about new ideas, initiatives, or products that are coming soon.

Testimonials

Testimonial videos are ideal for sharing messaging from your leadership team with your audience. Have a new corporate responsibility initiative you want to get your employees excited about? Have key members of your organization like the CEO share their point of view on why the new program is exciting and how it’ll impact the company and its employees. Testimonials can also include quotes from managers, customers, and other company figures.

Scenario-based

Use a scenario-based video when you want to depict a good behavior for your employees. Seeing a behavior acted out on screen serves as a powerful model and helps learners visualize what the behavior would look like in a real-life situation. Want to show them how to deal with a unsatisfied customer? Use a scenario video to showcase the right way of interacting with the consumer to resolve their issue.

Simulations

A simulation takes scenario-based training to the next level by putting the learner in control of the outcome. In this type of video, learners see a situation unfold and practice how they’d react given the scenario. This option is ideal for allowing a learner to practice a behavior in a controlled way. It allows them to select what they’d do next and see how that choice would play out.

So, How do You Choose?

In the end, it all boils down to what you want to teach and the best way to visually present that information. When it comes to employee training videos, there are a lot of options, but that just means you have even more opportunities to make something extra “sticky” and truly unique.

We know what you’re thinking…unique sounds expensive. If your budget dictates your project plan, don’t worry! We can work with you. There are lots of options in terms of style and fidelity, so we can tailor what you need to fit your budget and goals. It is a lot to juggle, but you’re not alone. Having the right partner to walk you through the options and help you decide what’s right for you can make the process a lot more seamless and a lot less intimidating.

If you need to liven up your training or just want to help learners visualize a difficult concept, video may be the perfect way to go. It’s a highly effective and extremely fun training tool. With so many style choices and with different fidelity options, the sky really is the limit.

We know that’s a lot to take in. If you have any questions, we’re here for you. Give us a call or send us an email.

How Much Does Custom Training Cost? It Depends!

So, you’ve decided off-the-shelf training no longer meets your company’s needs. Maybe you need to teach your employees about a complex system or product, or maybe you have specific customer service behaviors you need to demonstrate. Or, maybe it’s time for your training to match your company culture. In each of these examples, custom training solutions are definitely the right move. So, how much does custom training cost?

Well, it depends!

Something that’s custom-built for you rarely comes with a standard price tag. It all depends on what you want and need.

It’s a bit like remodeling a kitchen.

Let’s say you want new floors, appliances, cabinets, and countertops. When you ask the contractor for an estimate, two things probably happen next:

  • The contractor doesn’t give you an exact figure right away.
  • Instead, he or she asks you a few more questions.

While this might slow you down in the short-term, it’s a sign the contractor cares about your vision. After all, there are countless options for customization. Do you want tile floors? Linoleum? Do you need top-of-the-line appliances? What type of wood do you want for the cabinets? Are you interested in granite counter tops?

When you talk with a custom training partner, it’s no different, and if you can bring some key specs to the table, the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Use the framework outlined below to break down your vision and get an accurate custom training estimate.

IDENTIFY SPECIFICS

To get a better idea of how much your custom training project may cost, start thinking about the specifics. A custom training partner will ask you questions like this:

  1. How many topics do you need to cover? Will you focus on just a few topics, or do you need to create an entirely new program?
  2. Are you teaching knowledge, skills, or behaviors? If you’re teaching knowledge, a self-paced format could be the right approach. If you want learners to build new skills, they need a way to practice and get feedback. If you’re changing behaviors, your strategy will need a leadership component.
  3. How complex is the subject matter? Some custom training projects require more up-front analysis than others. Do you need a quick, fun hype video to encourage participation, or do you need to train employees on a highly complex product or system?
  4. What’s the right level of fidelity? Not all videos can be shot on an iPhone or a GoPro. Sometimes you need a full production crew, equipment rentals, and professional actors. Think about the ROI you’re after, and invest your dollars in your most high-impact content. The right training partner can produce a polished, exciting video that has that wow factor.
  5. How evergreen will the training be? Is this project “one and done,” or will it require ongoing maintenance? And, who do you want to be responsible for the maintenance–your internal training team or your training partner?
  6. What interactivity will you include? Should your content be highly interactive and immersive–with simulations, games, or even virtual reality? The more interactive the content, the more you’ll want to budget.

Consider Different Modalities

A major driver of cost is the modality–or training format–you’re interested in. In most cases, the subject matter will determine the best modality.

Make sure your training partner has a reputation for making helpful, strategic recommendations about your options. Here are some thought-starters you can use to identify benefits and costs of different modalities:

FACILITATED training

  • What type of seat time do you envision? A few hours? Two days? Three weeks?
  • Will the training be facilitated in-person or virtually?
  • Will you need any videos to support your facilitated content?
  • Do you need any quiz or assessment content to confirm learning?
  • Will pre-work and/or refresher training be part of your strategy?

eLearning

  • Are you interested in using any live action video content or animation in your eLearning modules?
  • Does your LMS support the type of eLearning experience you want?

Animation

  • Are you planning any systems training that requires a screencast?
  • Do you prefer a simple animation style, or something higher-fidelity like 3D?

Live action video

  • Do you have a general sense of the video length you’re interested in?
  • Would you rather use professional actors or your own employees?
  • Do you need to shoot the video in a specific location?

Custom training is personalized, engaging, and it gets results. In the end, the up-front time you spend to find the right custom training partner and articulate your vision will pay off.

It’s just like any great home improvement project. You have countless options, but the right contractor can turn your dream into a reality–and help you budget along the way.

So, how much does custom training cost? It depends! Use our framework to identify some specifics, then work with your training partner to choose the best modality and put together an estimate.

Infographic: Is Your Sales Training Program Good, or Great?

Your organization has a sales training program, and it’s working, right? Your sales reps are learning to position your products and services and close enough deals to at least keep the lights on for another month.

And maybe, you schedule training two or three times per year, probably in conjunction with a regional sales meeting when everyone is together to compare notes.

While your sales training program might not be brand new, you’re patching holes with updated content to keep it as fresh as you can.

So it’s good, right? Or at least adequate?

Well, maybe. If your organization has a good sales training program and you’re stuck in chronic mediocrity, imagine the results of a great sales training program that empowers your sales team to knock it out of the park with every customer interaction.

How can you tell whether your sales training program is good or great? Let’s take a quiz.

Is your sales training program good or great?

1. What is your sales methodology?

At the heart of every good sales training program is a good sales methodology. And there are plenty to choose from: Challenger, SPIN, SNAP, Customer Centric, Sandler Selling, and Conceptual … the list goes on.

It’s good to have a sales methodology because it helps your organization identify certain key needs. It probably provides insight into how your organization qualifies buyers, positions products, and helps reps overcome objections.

But, while it’s good to adopt a sales methodology, they all have one thing in common: lots of other organizations ―including your direct competitors―are using the exact same methodology.

To differentiate your organization in a crowded marketplace, you have to customize, personalize, and make your sales methodology your own so you can woo customers with a uniquely compelling customer experience – resulting in more deals closed.

A great sales training program is built off a sales methodology that’s contextual and customized for your specific products and services. One that enables reps to ideally position the solutions you offer, helps develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that empower your reps to shine more brightly than competitors, and matches your culture.

We’re often asked, “Hey Unboxed, what’s your sales methodology?”

Well, we have frameworks to create custom sales methodologies for our clients, but whether we create one or start with your existing one, the answer is simple: our methodology is to take your methodology and contextualize it to transform your training from hu-hum to BAM!

sales training program - sales methodology

2. What does your sales training program teach your reps?

Reps require knowledge and skills to sell successfully. They need specific, detailed information to explain how your products solve a customer’s issues and add value. Reps must also know how to qualify customers, build relationships, upsell, gain referrals and repeat sales. If your training achieves all of that, then you have a good program.

In addition to teaching knowledge and skills, a great sales training program also focuses on developing consistent behaviors that reps must master to position your products and services at the top of the market, making them irresistible to customers.

So, how do you take a knowledge- and skills-based training program to the next level?

At Unboxed, we start by partnering with our clients to identify the behaviors that drive success, then build training around those behaviors. PowerPoints won’t do here. Reps need to experience what these behaviors look like in action. We use simulations, choose-your-own adventure, and adaptive learning models so reps make a choice and then get to see the impact of their decisions, even if they’re incorrect.

By changing behaviors, you change overall results. Great sales training materials improve selling behaviors for your entire bench, driving increased sales and higher customer satisfaction.

sales training program - training for reps

3. What does your sales training program offer sales leaders?

Great sales managers aren’t born―they’re trained. They’re the pillars reps look to for guidance on closing critical deals. And, contrary to popular belief, when a top rep is promoted to sales manager, savvy management skills don’t magically materialize.

A coaching model supports the knowledge, skills, and behaviors your sales management and leadership team require to guide reps to the next level. They’ll learn to build their bench, set goals, develop strategy, understand drivers and drainers, evaluate ROI―and coach their team in developing these skills. Teaching managers how to foster increased sales productivity and efficiency improves the overall vitality of your sales organization.

sales training program - training for leaders

4. How do you deliver your sales training program?

Modality of learning is key to making knowledge stick. In years past, that meant in-person training and stacks of binders. Today’s reps are more visually oriented, so videos and interactive technologies are a smarter way to engage them to maximize retention.

If you currently mix up the delivery of your training using PowerPoints, self-paced workbooks, and the occasional video, you have a good training delivery system.

But why not make it great?

Reps are busy. Lengthy training sessions lower their overall selling time. And don’t forget about the forgetting curve. But by using modern, on-demand modalities, reps can train anywhere, anytime. Delivering training in short, bite-sized chunks also makes it more digestible and easier to retain. (It’s called microlearning, and it’s great for sales training.)

Modern sales reps respond to modern training methods. They increase engagement and knowledge retention. So, while it’s good to have 25-minute videos and training every six months, it’s great to use more modern sales training techniques including eLearning (simulations, interactive learning guides, and high-fidelity training videos), social learning, and gamification that keep reps engaged.

sales training program - training delivery

Are you good, great, or in the middle?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, your organization likely has a good sales training program.

But what if parts of your program are good while other aspects are already great? In that case does your entire sales program need a complete overhaul, or does it just need a facelift to make it more modern and engaging?

Here’s the thing: transforming from good to great has tangible benefits for your sales team and sales leaders, but the overarching reason to revamp your sales training is to provide your customers with an extraordinary experience.

This begs one last question:

5. Does your sales training elevate the customer experience?

In our modern, crowded sales landscape, companies compete on the playing field of customer experience.

And while it’s good to deliver training that benefits your reps, it’s great if that training also elevates the customer experience.

When customers experience the wow-factor of customized, contextual product positioning from sales reps whose consistent behaviors focus on solving their individual challenges, it tips the balance in your organization’s favor.

sales training program - results

By transforming your sales training program from good to great, you increase rep engagement, enhance management and leadership skills, and amp-up your customer experience to previously unimagined heights. Who wouldn’t choose great?

Here’s the complete infographic.

sales training program - Infographic

Want to Move from Good to Great?

At Unboxed, we specialize in creating custom sales training programs that help organizations transform from good to great, from mediocre to phenomenal, from off the shelf or “boxed” to, well … Unboxed.

Ready to kick it up a notch? Reach out. We’d love to talk sales training with you.