An alarming 66% of sales teams describe their training as irrelevant. Knowing 75% of employees are more likely to watch a video than read text, how do you create sales training videos that wow and make a positive impact on the bottom line? Here at Unboxed, we’ve been creating training videos that learners actually want to watch, and we’ve seen encouraging results, like a 15-60% increase in year over year sales.
When creating a custom sales program, you should use video strategically to show and reinforce the behaviors you’re teaching. Here are the five fundamentals of great sales training videos to guide your content creation.
1. Custom Sales Training Video Content
The first place to start is making sure your content is specific to your organization. There are plenty of generic sales training videos out there, but you can’t count on them to give you the positive results you’re looking for. Why? Because your team is less likely to take it seriously and the real impact comes from videos that match your organization’s specific culture, sales process, products, and challenges.
Your team is unique, and their training should be too. Show that you’re investing in their success with custom content.
2. Real World Scenarios
Along the same lines, your sales training videos should address realistic scenarios that your teams encounter every day. To make sure our training content is as authentic as possible, we interview sales team members in the field and other subject matter experts to gut check scenarios that we’d like to include.
In addition to real scenarios, your script has to sound that way too. To accomplish this, use conversational language and contractions (hasn’t, won’t, couldn’t, isn’t, etc.). Try your best to listen to actual sales conversations either by observing on a ride along or listening in on a sales call. When you’re done with your first draft, send the script to a few rock star sales team members to get their feedback. When your scenarios and scripting are as true-to-life as possible, you’ll gain your learner’s credibility and they’ll want to learn from you.
3. Professional Quality
If the acting is bad in a movie or show, you’re less likely to watch it, right? The same goes for sales training videos. If you want your learners to take the content seriously, and engage with it, the quality should be professional. This means everything from the filming, to the lighting, sound, and talent should be as polished as can be.
As Hollywood enhances their quality, the modern learner’s expectations rise too. If you sacrifice on quality, you run the risk of losing your audience’s attention and your credibility.
You may be thinking, “professional talent sounds expensive.” While a lot of organizations try to cut corners and use internal team members instead of professional talent, we advise against this. Ultimately, you won’t save as much as you think, and you’ve now gambled with the main focal point of your sales training video. Rembmer to try and eliminate as many distractions for your learners as possible.
4. Use a Creative Concept
Your training videos shouldn’t be a narrator or person in leadership talking to the camera the whole time. It’s best to use a creative concept where you can set clear expectations and show what those behaviors look like in a fun, engaging way. After all, it’s much more powerful to show than just tell.
Think outside the box when it comes to your creative concept. Can you find inspiration from a popular show? Would it work to show a compare and contrast of a team member who portrays good behaviors vs. a team member who uses great behaviors? As you’re brainstorming, consider themes that will fit with your culture and entertain and motivate your learners.
5. Show Positive & Negative Outcomes
Sales training videos provide learners with a safe space to learn. That’s why we use video simulations whenever possible. A simulation let’s a learner see a scenario play out, respond how they would handle it, and see what happens as a result. If they get the answer wrong, they’ll see the outcome (maybe it’s awkward silence or confusion from their customer), either way, they get to see the result of not using the best-in-class behavior. We know learners are going to make mistakes, and that’s okay. We’d just rather have them happen during training instead of real customer conversations.
As a kid I wanted to be Alfred Hitchcock. As a graduate student I won a screenwriting award. Today, as the Director of Content Strategy at Unboxed, I’ve had the honor of being part of a team that’s produced hundreds of microlearning videos for our clients.
You’ll often hear me say, “Use as much video as possible!” However, over the years I’ve observed how corporate training video production intimidates most people in the market for it. They have justifiable concerns about production costs, timelines, actors, branding, and quality.
In an effort to make the production process a little more human-friendly, we created the Training Video Production, Humanized guide. The guide covers enough video terminology to make you dangerous, plus what you can expect during pre-production, production, and post-production.
As we discuss in the article Employee Training Videos—What Style is Right for You: Cisco projects 82% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2021; An estimated 75% of the workforce will be Millennials by 2025—and Millennials are some of the heaviest consumers of video as a medium.
Video-based training programs can deliver impressive results—like 70% completion rates for training considered optional. (I mean, who takes optional training?! People who like videos, that’s who.)
Training Video Production: Things to Know Up Front
So, let’s go ahead and assume we’re creating microlearning training videos, not feature-length films. This has positive implications when it comes to your training video production costs. For training to be considered microlearning, it should be 5 minutes or fewer (we usually target 2-3 minutes) and focus on a single topic. Your microlearning video could be live action, animation, or a combination of both.
To feel comfortable throughout the training video production process, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with a little bit of terminology. Let’s start with the people you’ll meet.
People You’ll Meet
In most cases, the higher the fidelity and complexity of the video, the more team members are involved. Higher-fidelity training videos often involve sophisticated lighting setups, professional actors, additional sound and camera equipment, and extra crew. In our frequent participation in the 48 Hour Film Project, we’ve seen how the absence of the right equipment—particularly lighting and sound—can significantly reduce the impact of your content. Sometimes an iPhone just won’t cut it.
The Training Video Production, Humanized guide outlines the roles involved in a typical Unboxed training video shoot. Some of our corporate training video productions require more hands on deck, while some require less.
Here’s a sample of the people you’ll meet. Download the guide to meet the whole team.
We can break training video production down into three phases: pre-production, production, and post-production. In a nutshell, pre-production includes all of the up-front scripting, storyboarding, casting, and planning. Your Content Strategist and Producer will handle most of the heavy lifting during this phase, and they’ll be asking for your feedback and approval along the way.
Will we get to see what the actors look like to make sure they reflect the diversity and tone of our organization? Yes! We’ll work closely with you to understand the right demographics and find talented actors that represent your company well.
What if I can’t afford professional actors? In our experience, professional actors deliver the best result and keep your content evergreen. However, if you’d prefer to use your own employees, we can share some best practices with you to set them up for success.
Will we get to recommend locations? Absolutely! In addition to that, we’ll also let you know if we can achieve the right look near our Richmond headquarters. If our crew doesn’t travel far, we can save you money.
Who should plan to be there on shoot day? We’d love to invite at least one subject-matter-expert (SME) on set with us. This person can be a great resource on shoot day and help ensure scenes are true-to-life.
If you’ve never been on set during a training video production, you’re in for a treat. It’s exciting to see all of the scripting, casting, and planning come together. It’s also busy—the Unboxed team is efficient and works hard to capture a lot of footage in a day. Wear comfortable shoes!
You’ll enjoy watching our Directors in action as they coach talent and keep things moving from one scene to the next. They’ll check in with you often and make sure you’re satisfied with what’s being captured.
What should I wear to the shoot? We recommend wearing something casual or business casual. You want to make sure you’re comfortable. Pay special attention to footwear! Flats typically work best.
What is my role on set? We love having clients on set because you can make sure each scene is a realistic portrayal of your organization. You’ll have the opportunity to consult with our directors to make sure they’re giving the talent the right direction according to your brand and subject matter expertise. Keep us honest and confirm we’re doing a great job.
Other Terms You’ll Hear
MOS. Lower thirds. Slate. Camera speed.
There are plenty of other video production terms where these came from. While you’re on set, the Unboxed team will be more than happy to go over any questions you have about what something means or why we’re capturing footage a certain way.
In the post-production phase, we create your final training video. Our Director of Photography sits in a dark room for three straight days, wearing headphones and moving pixels around. He only breaks for lunch.
Just kidding. Post-production can actually be very collaborative, as our Content Strategist, DP, and Producer work together to agree on the best shots, make smart editing decisions, and keep the project on budget. By the time you see the first cut, it’s already been through at least one round of internal review.
What’s my role during post-production review? We’ll send you the first cut of the video and ask for your feedback or approval. At this stage in the production process, we can still edit music, transitions, and text on screen, and if necessary, we can also look into alternate takes and shots.
How many rounds of review do I get? Your training video production budget includes one first cut review. Once we get your feedback on the first cut, our editor makes any changes you requested and delivers your final, polished video.
I have late feedback from an important stakeholder. What should I do? Talk to us! It happens, and our goal is to deliver training you’re happy with. Help us understand the request, and let us come back with a recommendation in case it impacts scope and timeline.
When it comes to corporate training video production, gone are the days of talking heads. With so many training video styles available, video is one of the best ways to engage your learners. Sure, production planning takes work, but it’s exciting and fun, and in the end you’ll have training you’re proud to show off. With the right team in place, shooting video doesn’t need to be intimidating—or a hassle.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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:
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?
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?
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.
No matter how you create it and what you spend, training is an investment—and it should be. Training and development is the lifeblood of an organization, especially in industries that undergo frequent change and require ongoing skills acquisition. One way to get the most bang for your buck is to invest in high-quality eLearning.
According to ATD’s 2015 State of the Industry report, the average direct learning spend per employee was $1,229. So let’s get real. From an organizational health and bottom line perspective, your goal is to get the biggest return on that $1,229 investment possible. Your learners need to complete the training, and the training needs to stick so that everyone—your employees, customers, and company—reap the benefits.
The Case for High-Quality eLearning
If your training is boring, don’t expect much return on your investment. ATD also reports each learning hour used by an employee costs an average of $84. Multiply that hour by, say, 300 employees, and you’ve spent $25,200. If those employees just hit Next or skim through the training as fast as it will buffer, your investment—or hard work—is gone.
Good news, though: high-quality eLearning isn’t something elusive and abstract. There are distinct factors that contribute to an increase in participation, retention, and behavioral change. Think of them as eLearning effectiveness multipliers. The factors are quality, brevity, and realism. Bonus points for humor, too. Let’s take a look at each factor so you feel confident producing your next eLearning or finding the right vendor partner.
Today, a high bar of excellence for visual design isn’t a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have. It indicates a company takes pride in its brand, and more importantly, its people. Humans recognize and appreciate beauty. They admire strong craftsmanship and expect a friendly, intuitive user interface.
One obvious way to influence people is through visual aesthetics, or the appreciation of an appealing design. Thus, the importance of visual design in learning is gaining in stature and will become increasingly important in years to come. Initial research has already shown that evoking positive emotions in learners through an attractive visual design (layout, colors, imagery, etc.) can help facilitate a successful learning experience.
For eLearning, quality goes beyond visual design into the realm of video production. Sound, lighting, and color balancing all matter. Your learners have exposure to high-quality media throughout their daily lives, and they don’t have patience for trite motivational soundtracks and monotone voiceovers. If you’ve ever participated in the 48 Hour Film Festival, you know even the best screenplays fail at the hands of a poor sound technician.
If you’re just getting started, an emphasis on design and production quality can be intimidating, but you can start small. Pick a simple look and feel you know you can execute with confidence, or hire a partner and learn from them.
eLearning Industry reports the average attention span of the Millennial generation is 90 seconds, and 75% of the workforce will be Millennials by 2025. Even without these statistics, you know, intuitively, an employee’s time is their most precious asset. Their time off the floor or out of the field is time not spent selling, helping, influencing, or producing.
It’s time to realize your learners don’t want to sit through a 60-minute eLearning. Instead, use microlearning to make it easy for them to quickly learn new information and practice new skills in short bursts that fit into the reality of their workflow.
Embrace microlearning as part of your strategy. Microlearning in its truest form focuses on one learning objective per module. This allows employees to get back to their work quickly and immediately apply what they’ve learned.
To get started, look for natural places in your current content to divide learning into smaller pieces. For example, you can break a three-scenario simulation course into three separate courses. Or, you can train on one product per video rather than bundling multiple products into one eLearning.
As you continue to think about your eLearning design, answer this question: How will my learners relate to this training? Your goal is for employees to see themselves, the products they sell, their customers, and their managers represented accurately in the content.
Keeping your training real is easier said than done, and it might require a little more time or money. It’s worth it, though, and it’s a lot more fun. Here are some tips:
Consult with the experts. Identify the best subject-matter experts and make time for them to teach you what they know. Conduct field surveys, go on ride-alongs, and talk to frontline reps and managers to get to the heart of the matter. Don’t fake it.
Involve a writer who can create great dialogue. Everyday human-speak is quite different from the too-perfect, rigid scripting we’re all guilty of. If you listen carefully to how people typically converse, you’ll hear interruptions, interjections, and joking around.
Include objections. If you’re writing customer scenarios, don’t make them too easy. Have the customers raise objections that challenge learners and provide good practice opportunities.
Shoot on location. Use your true office, field, or floor setting. Fill it with extras and get room tone to give your learners the most realistic, immersive experience possible.
Hire strong actors who can execute your vision. Audition for your roles and don’t settle. You’ll be amazed at how effortlessly the right professional talent can bring your training to life. If your budget allows, give them rehearsal time to practice, ask questions, and get feedback.
If you nail the first three multipliers—good for you! Want to take your eLearning one step further? Welcome to the bonus round.
In the same article mentioned earlier, Connie Malamed writes, “Although instructional design typically focuses on the cognitive aspects of learning, a new line of research is now exploring the affective dimension too. Known as “emotional design,” this research looks at the ways a learner’s feelings and mood can influence motivation and learning results.”
Put your learners in a good mood by making them laugh. A Loma Linda University study indicates laughter can lower stress and enhance memory. Dr. Lee Berk, one of the study co-authors, puts it well.
It’s simple, the less stress you have the better your memory. Humor reduces detrimental stress hormones like cortisol that decrease memory hippocampal neurons, lowers your blood pressure, and increases blood flow and your mood state. The act of laughter—or simply enjoying some humor—increases the release of endorphins and dopamine in the brain, which provides a sense of pleasure and reward.
To get the full story on how humor can benefit you and your learners, read the post Our Funny Theory: Use Humor to Improve Training Effectiveness. Oh, and don’t think you’re funny? Here’s a tip: a little bit of slapstick at the beginning of a live action video can go a long way. (Think “sales reps can’t figure out how to open the door,” or “sales rep steps out of car and accidentally drops large stack of paperwork.”)
The Bottom Line
In the day-to-day shuffle of emails, meetings, and decision points, it’s tempting to take the easy road and animate a PowerPoint in your favorite authoring software and call it eLearning. You’ll get high-fives for being budget-conscious, but you won’t get the career-boosting results you want – nor will your learners.
Avoid the hidden costs of low-quality training. A year after implementation, your organization will be back at square one, spending more money. Instead, make it a priority to invest in high-quality eLearning. Remember: quality, reality, and brevity are your eLearning effectiveness multipliers. Bonus points for humor.