Corporate Training Trends 2020 – What’s Really Worth Your Investment?

As the end of 2019 approaches, budgets are being finalized and sales quotas are being established for the new year. Have you accounted for the cost of employee training in your 2020 budget? Some employers may be tempted to push employee training to the side of their business-centric priorities, but you may want to think again…

At Unboxed Training & Technology, our goal is to provide you with any recent corporate training trends with actionable ways to apply these new industry insights to your company or team. A diverse client base gives us a well-rounded view of the L&D space to share what we expect to see as corporate training trends in 2020.

Based on what we’re seeing with our clients, and in the L&D industry overall, we have compiled the top four future trends in training and development that you need to know for the upcoming year. But before we jump into the trends, let’s take a look at the corporate training landscape as a whole.

The Future of Corporate Learning

According to SHRM’s Skills Gap 2019 research, 75% of HR professionals say there is a shortage of skills in candidates for job openings. One of the “most effective remedies” mentioned in the report for this growing skills gap is to improve employee retention rates

Research has shown that employee training and development actually reduces employee turnover. The question is, do you believe it?

Take notes from Amazon. Earlier this year, Amazon announced a $700 million investment in employee training programsWe think it’s important to invest in our employees, and to help them gain new skills and create more professional options for themselves,” said Beth Galetti, senior vice president of HR.

Every year, corporate training trends evolve–but the value of employee training never changes. Use these corporate training trends to guide your training process whether you are onboarding new hires or upskilling current employees. The future of L&D starts inside your organization, today.

 

Top 4 Learning and Development Trends in 2020

Companies like Amazon understand the necessity of employee training and development–not only for new employees–but as an ongoing investment in current employees. Whether you invest $7,000 or $700 million, effective training is always advantageous to the business. A recent study, noted by Spotio, concluded that “every dollar invested in sales training returned $29 in incremental revenues.

Now it’s time to talk about what you don’t know (but should) about workplace learning and employee development.

 

Trend #1: Actionable Coaching

Research has shown that coaching is the number one competency that distinguishes average managers from highly effective managers. Actionable coaching is more than giving advice; it provides employees with constructive feedback, sets actionable goals, and develops a more efficient workforce.

As a manager, it’s not enough to say, “You didn’t do that right. Try again.” Managers must actively engage with employees to identify strong competencies and development gaps. For example, actionable coaching can turn a sales pitch tragedy into a training opportunity by creating a plan of action:

  1. Identify what part of the sales pitch or goal an employee missed.
  2. Explain the correct behavior or action expected and resource them with specific training material.
  3. Form a plan of action moving forward to train in weak areas and fill in knowledge gaps:
    • Brush up on product or service knowledge.
    • Review the messaging strategy.
    • Practice the pitch by role-playing with a colleague or mentor.
    • Set a completion date.

Coaches, how do you currently track your coaching engagements and employee observations?

In response to the need for better coaching tools to make actionable coaching more intuitive and effective, we’ve developed an easy-to-use mobile app that walks coaches through an observation flow and captures key data points. Here’s how it works:

  • Observe behaviors by taking coaches through a guided observation flow.
  • Capture information in the moment to keep coaches focused on the person in front of them.
  • Easily track and record detailed notes.
  • Provide feedback on strengths and opportunities.
  • Assist in creating SMART goals for tangible results.
  • Save documentation time.

If you aren’t observing, you can’t coach. Start tracking performance, skill progression, and providing constructive feedback to empower employees to make actionable changes.

 

Trend #2: 360 Certification

How do you know when your new hires are ready to be customer-facing?

At what point does your onboarding process transition new employees to executing responsibilities on their own?

How do you certify that your sales reps are ready to pitch prospects?

What guardrails can you put in place to ensure the best results?

We’re long past the point of a certification exam or a series of inconsistent classes being enough to guarantee readiness, let alone success. The future of corporate learning lends itself toward a 360 degree view of certification.

360 degree certification is holistic in nature. Begin by identifying a threshold that learners must meet before they are considered “certified.” Be sure to choose inputs that train and test on knowledge, skills, and behavior.

Then, use your Learning Management System (LMS) to create a unique formula of weighted inputs to automate the employee certification process. Inputs might include some or all of the following activities:

  • In-person training event
  • Video roleplay
  • Coaching session or observation
  • Mini knowledge checks
  • Action learning projects

The list could go on, but each input is used in combination with the others to collectively “certify” your rep.

Don’t stop at a one-time certification. Employee training is an ongoing process that continues well after onboarding has completed. Track employee training and recertify reps with refresher courses at various checkpoints in their careers to ensure knowledge retention over time. Reimagine how this will transform what “customer readiness” means for new hires and veteran employees.

The goal is to have employees cross-trained in everything from hard skills to soft skills throughout their career. This full-circle method of certification gives managers and employees a 360 degree view of what they are proficient in and where they need to improve.

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The start of every new year is a chance to revisit training goals and aspirations for the coming 12 months. How do you know what’s worth your investment?

Trend #3: More Innovative Event Management

Are you using your LMS to its full potential by engaging, training, and assessing learners? Stop using your LMS as a repository for training and resources that aren’t being used anymore. An LMS that is being used effectively is an integral part of an employee’s work day.

Leverage your learning platform to pulse engaging pre-work, drive community traffic, and gamify training events with ongoing opportunities to earn points and rewards. Integrate your LMS across the organization to support business objectives and scale up your workforce.

 

Engage with Pre-Work

Pre-work should make a meeting, virtual instructor-led employee training (VILT), or webinar more valuable for both the attendees and the presenter. Take advantage of an LMS, like Spoke® LMS, to manage and engage attendees at your event. Reimagine pre-work as fun, engaging, and effective rather than just busywork:

  • Send out learning expectations and resource guides early to prepare learners.
  • Build assessments for learners to take beforehand to help gauge the audience.
  • Make pre-work visually stimulating with images, graphs, and multimedia.
  • Have some fun by using games to award points or prizes to those who complete pre-work.
  • Schedule email reminders to send out right before the session for optimal attendance.

Encourage learners to come with answers, questions, and comments so they participate in the conversation. Use engaging content that builds interest and promotes interaction among attendees.

Gamify Training Events

Games in training is one of those learning trends that will only get more influential every year. Use games and gamification at events to educate, improve the experience, fight disengagement, as well as create an environment of collaboration and healthy competition.

For example, a pharmaceutical national sales meeting is a great opportunity to implement games and gamification into an event. Use an LMS to award points or badges for various activities in order for participants to win a grand prize:

  • Attending different sessions.
  • Tweeting what they learned using an event branded hashtag.
  • Sharing photos on social media and tagging the company.
  • Networking with other attendees by exchanging business cards.
  • Collecting items from various booths.

Have games and gamification made it into your 2020 event plans?

Disengaged attendees are the bane of any event’s existence, in-person or virtual. Craft a learning culture that motivates and engages employees with the help of an LMS. Think Outside™ the box for your next corporate event!

 

Trend #4: Personalized Learning through AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no stranger to L&D or the world at this point. We talked about AI last year in our 2019 training trends blog, and it’s not going anywhere.

We interact with AI every day to make our lives easier. Google, Facebook, and Instagram all use AI-based algorithms to provide us with relevant information and ads to deliver a better user experience. Yet, in the workplace, AI is still severely underutilized.

AI At Work, a study conducted by Oracle and Future Workplace, discovered only 6% of HR professionals are currently using AI at work. Although, HR leaders believe AI will positively impact both L&D (27%) and performance management (26%) over the next two years. Both HR leaders and employees agree that the biggest impact AI will have on organizations is increased productivity.

AI caters to the individual who is handling it, fitting exclusively to the needs of each user. When AI is implemented into an LMS, it creates a personalized learning environment that becomes more intelligent over time. AI can improve employees’ learning experiences in many ways, but here are a few to consider:

  • Identify knowledge gaps in training then recommend the program(s) needed to strengthen that particular area.
  • Create a personalized course path using a blended learning approach and selecting the right modality for training content.
  • Measure training effectiveness through facial recognition to track what is being practically applied on the field as mentioned in our #4 trend for 2019.

The future of AI in the L&D space is limitless. If you don’t start adopting AI technology into your corporate training now, you’ll be limiting the potential of your business and employees later. Don’t get left behind.

 

2020 Training Trends Recap

L&D is constantly evolving with new technology and research used to improve the modern learner’s experience. Let’s recap our 2020 training trends:

  • Actionable coaching for actionable results. Don’t just manage employees. Use tech tools to coach employees with a plan of action that assesses their progress and improves performance.
  • 360 degree certification. Give your sales reps a full-circle onboarding experience using multiple methods of input so they are truly customer ready.
  • Use LMS for more innovative events. Engage employees at events with value-added pre-work and use both games and gamification to encourage participation, as well as collaboration.
  • Adopt AI for personalized learning. Use smart technology to support your training efforts. Start embracing AI in 2020; 93% of employees already say they would trust orders from a robot.

Need help implementing these new corporate training trends? Let our L&D professionals help you prepare for the future of work. Schedule your free training consultation today!

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The start of every new year is a chance to revisit training goals and aspirations for the coming 12 months. How do you know what’s worth your investment?

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How the Rise of AI Changes Sales Training

According to Forbes, 62% of executives believe they will need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce between now and 2030 due to digitization. Most employees won’t join your company with the skills to lead your team into the future of automation, which is why it’s critical that you’re ready to train your employees on emergent technologies.

There are plenty of upsides to automation: many companies have begun to leverage AI to better understand their customer’s behaviors and preferences so they can sell more personalized products, more accurately predict revenue, and even optimize pricing options for customers. Some companies have started to utilize AI assistants in the sales process to free up their salespeople from having to deal with mundane or repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on increasing revenue through building relationships.

On the other side of the artificial intelligence coin is the notion that robots are taking over the world (and taking our jobs). Not everyone is excited to welcome AI into the workplace; There is a real fear about AI taking over jobs that humans can do and making certain skillsets obsolete. AI is capable of carrying out tasks within carefully delineated boundaries like recognizing certain email as spam, offering you Netflix movie recommendations, or identifying which books you might like to read according to your recent purchases – but there are things it can’t do that you can, like create human connections.

As certain sales activities have been handed over to machines, skills like empathy, decision-making, and collaboration are more important than ever. Where AI can construe predictable customer questions through an assistive chat feature, it cannot make quick judgments on gray-area situations or understand the nuances of emotions – and these are key skills when it comes to selling.

Saleshacker says that, “the more a salesperson understands the emotions invested in a sales interaction, the better her chances of successfully making the sale.”

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If you’re a salesperson, you can’t succeed without the ability to talk to new people, overcome objections, build strong relationships, and make personal connections. At the end of the day, buying something is an emotional experience for both the seller and the customer and these skills are the things that separate salespeople from sales machines.

As technology continues to advance and improve, it’s important to focus on upskilling your workforce with the emotional intelligence skills they need to succeed while capitalizing on emerging technologies. Here are a couple of ways you can upskill your team:

• Offer personalized training programs that build sales and people skills to bridge the gap between automation and the emotional connection needed to make a sale.

Implement the usage of intelligent apps, AI programs, and other emerging technologies to improve efficiency and empower team members to spend more time on revenue-generating tasks than on busy work.

• Use time-tracking programs to measure each employee output. This way, your employees will be getting trained on a new program, while you pick up on their patterns, strengths, and weakness. This data can determine where an employee needs to be retrained or paired with a mentor who can help.

The future is here! Your employees should know that artificial intelligence isn’t out to hurt them, it’s here to help them work more efficiently and creatively.  Are you ready to see how personalized sales training programs can help your team build better customer relationships and generate more revenue?
Reach out today.

 

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Video Challenges for Sales Teams: Uncover the Possibilities

When an organization rolls out a new product, it can take a while for the sales team to get on board. Even if they’re excited about the product itself, learning another set of features, benefits, and messaging can feel like just another thing they don’t have time for.

So, what can you do to increase speed to competency and drive excitement for a new product?

Recently, Unboxed partnered with a pharmaceutical organization rolling out a new product at a nation-wide launch. They’d been working hard for months to build marketing collateral and training to support the sales team, and they were looking to do something special to increase excitement and sustain learning beyond the launch event. They needed a creative way to prove that the sales team could execute what they’d learned in the intensive in-person and online training.

Together, we landed on what we called a “Show What You Know” video challenge. The goal was to engage the sales team’s naturally competitive drive by giving them a chance to show what they knew in a public setting—and get rewarded for it.

Here’s how it would work:

1. Learners would record a video of themselves demonstrating the training techniques they learned during training.

2. Learners would upload their best pitch to the training portal (LMS).

3. Training leaders would review each video, selecting the best pitches to share live on the portal, and sharing feedback with those that need improvement.

4. Learners would earn coins and accolades from peers and leaders.

Prior to rolling out “Show What You Know”, we created a dedicated space for the challenge inside the learning portal and even released a hype video to explain the video challenge.

Upon implementation, we saw high rates of engagement from the start, but the results were what was most surprising. The training team found that no one, not even the top performers on the sales team, was able to execute on all of the required messaging they’d learned in training. These results uncovered gaps in the training and gave leaders an opportunity to directly address those gaps, provide more practice sessions, and continue moving the team toward excellence.

As a bonus, we spliced together highlights from the best-uploaded videos to emphasize key skill areas. We bookended the videos with a skills overview, giving learners several examples of what good looks like so they could continue to practice. The challenge was a great success.

We gathered a few key takeaways from “Show What You Know”  that you may be able to apply to your own program:

• Learners may know less than they think they do. Going into the challenge, most learners reported being confident with the new product info they had learned in training. The video challenge revealed what we know to be true: that knowledge acquisition is entirely different than practical application.

• Learners love learning from their peers. After the challenge, releasing the spliced videos allowed learners to see several examples of how they could implement key skills and build a more natural approach to their sales pitch. Because these examples were from their peers, they felt authentic, relevant, and timely.

• Sustainment is key. Be strategic about when to roll out a post-training challenge. Gather your initial results, and continue to refine as you go in order to have the most impact.

Have questions about your own sustainment plan?

Need a sustainment strategy that will allow your team to identify learning gaps? Contact Unboxed today for a strategy that works for your learners.

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Storytelling in Training

Stories have a way of sticking with us. Whether it’s the book on your bedside table, an anecdote shared over coffee, or the latest drama on a favorite TV series, there’s something about a well-told story that captivates.

Entertainment is just a secondary perk, though. The art of storytelling is centuries old, used initially to pass on information from person to person. When we employ the technique in training, we’re looking to capitalize both benefits: spreading knowledge to learners while holding their attention and engaging their interest.

 

Why Use Storytelling

Storytelling is just one of the many tools in our training arsenal. It’s one of our favorites as it allows us to draw on our creativity, however, there are three other core reasons we gravitate toward the solution.

1. Storytelling creates an emotional connection between learners and lessons. As stories draw us in, we continually react, both emotionally and physically as they unfold. Scientists have seen this come alive in brain scans of learners. When presented with narratives and sensory-heavy language, larger portions of the brain are activated than just the language processing areas.

2. Storytelling allows us as content experts to injects creativity and levity into complex, dry topics. From systems to security, we tackle topics that are critical for organizations and learners but may skew a bit boring on the boring side. By transforming facts, processes, and procedures into a narrative, we’re able to hold learner attention longer and boost the likelihood that they’ll actually enjoy their training experience.

3. Storytelling makes content memorable. We want our training to stick. When a learner completes one of our training programs, our intention is that they can take what they’ve learned and immediately apply those skills. Beyond that, we want them to retain that information and be able to carry it through their work for a long period of time, sharing it with other team members as appropriate.

How to Use Storytelling

 Now that you know the value behind the technique, let’s pull the curtain back on some simple best practices for incorporating storytelling into your training:

• Follow the classic story arc. Start with a clear beginning to set the stage for what is to come, introducing concepts and characters on which to build the rest of the story. Create tension or conflict in the middle of the story, resolving it and reinforcing the lesson in the end.

• Be creative. Use relatable characters and probable scenarios to help illustrate the concepts and/or processes that a learner needs to understand. Imagine the learner’s on-the-job experience and look for ways to create an engaging, parallel experience with your content.

• Use descriptive language. Choose phrasing that connects with the senses, describing experiences in terms of the way they look, feel, smell, sound, or taste.

• Incorporate supporting images. Nothing makes stories come alive like compelling imagery. Whenever possible, incorporate graphics, animation, or live-action visuals to better illustrate concepts and provide some visual support for what is happening in your narrative.

Regardless of the modality your training employs, consider ways you might incorporate these concepts into its construction. That’s the approach we take, looking for opportunities to inject our signature creativity into our content to engage learners and drive results.

 

Storytelling in Practice

When it comes to using storytelling in training, we’ve found that simulations lend themselves particularly well to the approach. These choose-your-own-adventure style trainings allow learners to explore different pathways and their results with no actual risk.

We recently built a pair of simulation videos for a real estate leasing company as part of a multi-modality curriculum focused on their new sales method. The videos followed the actions of a leasing agent as she worked to fill a unit in her community.

Throughout each, we created opportunities for learners to choose how to approach various points of conflict within the process. A play off of ‘Million Dollar Listing,’ the project allowed us to pull cultural references and humor into the story, making it particularly relevant to the company’s audience of leasing agents.

Want to see how we can help you take your training to the next level with creative storytelling? Connect with us today.

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Is Product Recommendation Software Right for You?

Forbes reports that 57% of sales reps missed their quota last year. While that statistic is alarming, the critical question that managers need to ask is why. Why aren’t reps knocking every single sale out of the park? Sales can be an area of high turnover, so maybe they’re not all up to speed, they’re struggling with product positioning, or they aren’t strong at interpreting and identifying the needs of a customer. Sales managers want their reps to hit more home runs – and product recommendation software is a big bat.

If you don’t have great selling aids, it’s time to consider what benefits come with the use of a guided selling tool. It enables new sales reps to get up to speed more quickly, helps reps keep their messaging consistent, and ultimately leads to the right recommendation for your customers. Think of your best salesperson. A guided selling tool basically lets you clone that person and have them in the sales conversation with all of your reps.

Product Recommendation Software, like all tools, is designed to help you achieve what would otherwise be much harder without the assistance – so much so that we’ve seen close rates increase by 40% when product recommendation software has been used.

 

So, What is Product Recommendation Software?

Before considering what to look for, it’s important that you understand exactly what product recommendation software is. In short, it’s a software application that enables reps to deliver excellent sales experiences and recommendations through a conditional, needs-based assessment. With this software’s help, reps are better able to guide customers and generate trust and confidence.

Benefits of guided selling:

  • Onboards reps faster
  • Increases sales productivity
  • Engages buyers with an interactive buying experience
  • Delivers an accurate and highly-personalized buyer experience with real-time leave behinds
  • Replicates and automates what works for top performers

Product recommendation is an art that enables the asking of intelligent questions and then uses customer response to drive recommendations and guided up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Isn’t that what any customer and sales rep would want?

 

9 Essential Considerations

Now that you see the problem and understand a potential solution, you’re on to something. Here are some considerations for you before adding product recommendation to your toolbox:

 

WHY YOU MIGHT WANT IT WHY YOU MIGHT NOT

SHORTEN TRAINING TIME

Product Recommendation Software allows your reps to get up to speed more quickly because they have a tool to help them and because that tool doubles as a training aid.

INCONSISTENT MESSAGING

If you have a brand-new team still looking to establish itself and figure out what works, you’re messaging might not be consistent enough, yet.

ACCURATE PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS

If your reps are using a tool that has the correct information, they’re far less likely to make a wrong recommendation.

DON’T KNOW WHAT WORKS

If you haven’t figured out your “special sauce” yet, it’s difficult to scale what works. It helps to figure out sells within your organization as a foundation before incorporating this software.

BUYER-LED JOURNEY

Potential buyers can interact with the tool and feel ownership of the process – leading them to feel less “sold to” and reducing the chances of an incorrect recommendation.

LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE

Perhaps you don’t have the infrastructure to capitalize on the rich data insights Product Recommendation Software can provide. If you can’t harness the full functionality of the tool, it might not be worth it for your organization.

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Product Recommendation Software has the ability to delight customers by providing an interactive experience and better recommendations.

REDUCE FOLLOW-UP TIME

You can send follow-up communications immediately either during or after a meeting to keep the pipeline moving and keep your reps selling.

ENGAGE MORE PROSPECTS

With shorter, more precise sales meetings, your reps are more available.

 

Does This Sound Like Something That’s Right for You

We’re not talking about a CRM or refresher training. We’re talking about focusing on your customers, their experience, their trust, and ultimately – their purchase.

If you’re looking for a sales aid that’s consistent, up-to-date, personalized, digital, mobile, and has shown consistent results like 60% increase in YOY sales and 40% increase in rep productivity, then using product recommendation software could be a solution for your company.

Give your customers exactly what they want at the right price—without second-guessing your product recommendations or quotes.

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The 5 Fundamentals of Great Sales Training Videos

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 are 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.

 Great Sales Training Videos_2 

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. Remember 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.

To learn more about creating amazing training videos, check out our free guide, Employee Training Video Production – Humanized, and learn what to expect during pre-production, production, and post-production.

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