7 ideas for enhancing #sales training with web conferencing, webinars, and virtual classrooms

If you’re not using live, interactive communication — at a distance using web conferencing — as part of a sales training strategy, you’re leaving money on the table.

If you’re newer to the idea, let’s start you out correctly with one simple mindshift: web conferencing is a medium, not a format. Think about how you use a telephone…sometimes you have a casual chat,  make a formal call, engage in group collaboration, and sometimes it might serve you as you deliver a (largely listen-only) all-hands meeting.

Similarly, while many (most!) webinars tend to use a “talk at you for 45 minutes and then take a few questions” format, that’s shortsighted.

With that in mind, here are seven ways you can use web conferencing to extend your sales training programs.

Deliver via webinar before an in-person meeting

Years ago when I was at Microsoft we were getting ready to roll out a new CRM and methodology to the division’s sales team. In advance of airplanes and beaches, a webinar delivered an overview of what was coming and a call-to-action to prepare for account reviews (that would be transformed by the new methodology).

Host a skills reinforcement session

The Microsoft event I just mentioned concluded, and the sales team had more work to do. More importantly, they had to deal with complexity that we didn’t expect they’d master in one short session at the in-person all-hands meeting. Unlike the advance webinar, this session was not teaching new skills. Instead, it reiterated some key concepts and spent more time in Q&A as reps wrestled with applying what they’d learned.

Host role-playing sessions

Salespeople love to hate role playing, but it’s a powerful tactic for reinforcing skills and messaging…and letting them make mistakes in a safe environment. Here’s a bonus: try this virtually even if everyone’s in the same building to help them improve their competence and confidence with using web conferencing while making presentations.

Use a recurring meeting for ongoing training sessions

Advanced web conferencing solutions let you set up recurring meetings. Besides saving you time, something else that happens is that the phone number and login ID are soon memorized. Benefit: even when someone’s in a car they can dial in (instead of having an opportunity to skip). And you again reinforce the use of web conferencing.

Have sales reps set up and be the training session host

This doesn’t mean that you make them present, but the very act of “being the leader” prepares them by doing (note the recurring theme here ;). More importantly, you’ll find most are willing participants in playing a leadership role for that training session, which is a major attitude shifter.

Use web conferencing to accelerate new rep onboarding

Time out-of-field is always an issue with reps, but it’s particularly painful when they’re new (and you need them to start paying the bills). Reassessing how you onboard new employees not only can improve time-to-productivity, reps will benefit by you decreasing the data dump inherent in many onboarding processes. Read this interview for a practical example of this.

Extend in-person training with a virtual component

This is my least favorite option, and here’s why. Unless you have a master facilitator, energy and attention gets focused on the in-person room and remote participants have a passive, sub-par learning experience. That said, life isn’t always ideal, and it’s seriously easy to simply use a web conferencing to extend your reach.

The bottom line

Every one of us prefers to be in person. That’s a given. Despite this preference, however, we don’t give up the use of the telephone, right? Web conferencing isn’t the answer to everything, but if it’s not fully integrated into how you reach, teach, and lead the sales team, it’s likely you’re spending both hard and soft dollars you don’t need to be spending. Give it a chance, and you’ll find it’ll become an irreplaceable part of your strategy.

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