Insights for the Best Sales Teams in the Galaxy

Every month, thousands of companies release new products and features. In the midst of corporate change and new product offerings, salespeople are often on the frontlines of communicating these new opportunities to the world. But with an ever-changing market, sales teams must stay ahead of the speed of business if they want to succeed. That’s why we created our newest ebook, The Future of Sales: Insights for the Best Sales Teams in the Galaxy.

Our Crew of Experts

A great crew is essential for any meaningful journey. That’s why we tapped into the expertise of some of the world’s foremost sales leaders, educators and teachers, including:

  • Deb Calvert, President, People First Productivity Solutions
  • Jeff Hoffman, Sales Educator, Speaker, and Author
  • Olivier L’Abbe, VP of Sales, G2 Crowd
  • Michael Manne, VP of Sales, Namely
  • Michelle Pietsch, Senior Director of Sales, Drift
  • Kyle Porter, CEO, SalesLoft
  • Lori Richardson, CEO and Founder, Score More Sales
  • Jill Rowley, Chief Growth Advisor, Marketo
  • Marko Savic, CEO and Founder, FunnelCake

These nine leaders are thinking critically about the sales industry and the seismic shifts that will impact the sales profession in the coming years. Catch the  share their thoughts about on the following topics:

Oncoming Trends

Our contributors have their eyes on a few key ideas that will drastically impact the sales space. One such idea is artificial intelligence and machine learning. As more steps of the sales process become automated and big data drives sales decision-making—what role will a sales rep play?  

“The massive proliferation of sales tech vendors has created insane amounts of noise to buyers…Reps must be wary of this and rise above the noise with their buyer. The best way to do that is earning trust through sincerity and a human experience.Kyle Porter

The Impact of Change

There’s no doubt that these cultural and technological trends will impact the sales space. The question for sales leaders is, “How can I prepare my teams to harness these changes to win the market?” The sales trainers and enablement teams that ask this question—and take action on it—will be light-years ahead of the competition. Want to get started now? Download the ebook.

“Reps will need to become better at finding out the customer’s pains without having to get on the phone to run a discovery call. Many vendors already expect the salesperson to know a considerable amount about them and their business before the first call.”Olivier L’Abbe

The Tools For the Journey

With thousands of sales tools in play, the market is oversaturated with solutions for sales teams. Our contributors discuss the types of tools that are most impactful, offer advice for vetting a new product, and provide perspective on the true value of sales tools. This section is a must-read for sales leaders before implementing a new tool with your team.

Being good with tools does not replace being good with people. Over-relying on tools is what makes them detrimental…Sales success comes from the right balance of quality human interaction and appropriate use of supplemental tools.”Deb Calvert

The Qualities of All-Star Sales Reps

The rapidly-changing sales industry requires a new breed of salespeople, with a new set of skills. From curiosity and a desire to learn, to buyer-obsession and a passion for connection—sales leaders should begin to search for these skills during the interview process. They also should design sales training programs that hone these skills in their reps. 

“Sales reps need to be coachable—willing to learn new things and improve every day. We have to always look at what we’re doing and shift and morph it a little bit…Really listen to what your buyer is saying and don’t just assume that you know what their problem is.”Lori Richardson 

Out-of-this-World Teams

Building a great sales team is hard. It takes a certain kind of leadership, with the right blend of focus on operations, relationships, and motivation, to inspire stellar team performance. Want to be a better sales leader this year? Our contributors offer a few key ideas to put your team—and your leadership skills—on the path to higher performance.

“The expression I use is, ‘patience with people and impatience with pipelines.’ You want to build an environment that’s rabidly impatient with the book of business and the velocity of opportunities at the top of the funnel, but at the same time is incredibly patient with the people that they’re managing the process with.”Jeff Hoffman

This ebook was designed to help sales teams think intentionally about the future of the sales profession. A slow and steady trajectory won’t win the market in 2018—the successful sales team must be willing to shift, change, and grow. One of the best places to start that process is right here with Lessonly. Download The Future of Sales: Insights for the Best Sales Teams in the Galaxy today.

Behind the Scenes: How We Practice For Better Performance

Without consistent practice, it’s hard to improve at your craft. If recently-learned information isn’t consistently applied to real-world scenarios, there’s only a small chance of seeing returns on your training efforts. That’s why Lessonly champions the learn, practice, perform model as opposed to only learn and perform.

Practice is essential for high-performance—just ask any sports team. And as Lessonly grows, we’re wholly committed to driving consistent performance across every single one of our teams. The ideas of practice and continuous rapid improvement aren’t just important to our success: We’re dependent on them.

This focus on practice isn’t just an internal effort, we’re investing in the idea of practice for our customers too. The launch of Video Response is one example. When testing this feature, we explored how it helps customer-facing teams perform better by testing it out on our own team.

As we practiced real-world skills and situations with Video Response, we learned a few key takeaways that any team can apply to improve their own results:

Separate Learning and Practicing

We’ve always included the idea of practice in our lessons via questions and interactive elements. But, we also discovered two problems. First, it’s easy to answer a question on a topic we learned about five minutes ago. With a longer delay between learning and practice, long-term recall increases. Second, combining learning and practice often muddles both. However, when a learner has one key focus, the lesson leaves a greater impression. We’ve found that creating separate, specific learning and practice lessons is a great way to add practice opportunities in training, while making each experience more engaging.

Tactical Tip: Mix in a practice-specific lesson after every 4 or 5 learning lessons to break things up, keep the experience interactive, and solidify recall.

Practice New Skills Monthly

Lessonly lives by the mantra of continuous rapid improvement. This means that every single employee is committed to asking thoughtful questions, honing on their craft, and helping the tide rise for every team—not just their own. Practicing one new skill or ability each month helps focus our efforts and push us beyond everyday learning. Practice doesn’t overwhelm our team with more work or take too much time away from our actual jobs, but it’s enough to be meaningful and keep topics relevant.

Every month, we receive a few practice lessons that offer context around a problem, followed by role play scenarios using Video Response. Our managers provide personalized feedback in Lessonly and additional coaching during weekly one-on-one meetings.

So far, we’ve practiced telling better customer stories and pitching our product. And that’s just the beginning—we have lots more practice to do.

Tactical Tip: Create a monthly practice cadence around a different topic or skill to foster continuous rapid improvement on your team. Bonus points for using feedback criteria to provide more specific coaching to learners.

Use Real Business Scenarios

It’s worth pointing out that there’s some nuance to cultivating a culture of practice—making practice relevant for employees requires intentionality and planning. Start by looking at your team’s performance data: What KPIs are underperforming? Is there a particular reason why? Perhaps that should be next month’s practice topic!

Also, be proactive with practice instead of just reactive. Rolling out a new feature, new messaging, or a change in policy over the next quarter? Offer the team more opportunities to practice ahead of time to support project or campaign rollouts. If your business is seasonal, consider what skills are relevant and important to practice in preparation for the coming months.

No matter what skills your team practices, linking lessons to tangible business realities will always drive higher training engagement.

Tactical Tip: Match team objectives, KPIs, and relevant business or industry happenings to monthly practice to keep it relevant.

Improve Rapidly and Continuously

Lessonly’s customer facing-teams practice constantly. This posture of continuous rapid improvement prevents stasis, boosts performance, and prepares our team for the everyday challenges of doing better work. Not only does practice benefit business performance, but it also reduces stress. When employees feel confident about their skills and jobs, the pressure decreases and their lives improve. That’s a worthwhile mission to be a part of.

Hopefully, these tips provide the same benefits for your business as they have for ours. Start doing better work with Lessonly’s learn, practice, perform model, and take a tour today!

8 Traits of Star Customer Service Reps

Customer service is rapidly changing. Gone are the days of simple phone conversations—now customer service teams face an influx of interactions across multiple channels.

With shifting customer expectations, the role of the modern customer service rep is also evolving. Rather than simply following formulas, reps must be in the business of creatively solving customer problems. We teamed up with a crew of customer service leaders and trainers to identify specific traits that the customer service reps of the future need to succeed:

Communication

Clear communication is essential for superior customer service. The increased number of interaction channels requires customer service reps to be able to communicate verbally and in multiple written formats.

“The recent shift in the customer service industry means reps need better-written communications skills. As little as five years ago, most customers contacts were by phone. But, as non-voice channels expand, agents that were hired for their verbal skills now need training on proper business writing skills. They need to learn different styles of writing for email, live chat, SMS, and social media. These skills are very different than verbal communication skills.”Mike Aoki, President, Reflective Keynotes

Compassion

Customers are easily frustrated when they feel that reps aren’t treating them well. According to AchieveGlobal, one in three customers prefer being treated with respect over having their issues immediately resolved.

“Undoubtedly, a great rep needs compassion to understand the customer on the phone or online is an actual person—not just a point of sale or a “time-limited” call to rush off the phone.”Steve DiGioia, Trainer and Coach

Empathy

Many people think customer service is about fixing issues and solving problems, but that’s not the whole story. The deeper aim of customer service is to provide a positive experience with a business. The easiest way to do this? Empathy.

“I’m always a soft skills person. If you can’t hold a conversation, if you can’t guide it the best outcome, that’s where reps need to concentrate their efforts. If you can speak to a customer and empathize with them the conversation will be that much easier—you’ll be able to truly understand the customer’s needs.”Ben Collet, Director of Global Advocacy, Enterprise and Strategic Accounts, Zendesk

Empowerment

Empowering employees with the knowledge and authority they need to solve problems is key to a successful customer interaction. Great reps have the freedom, within the scope of their work, to make decisions that best serve each customer.

“Reps need to feel assured that they are trusted and have the appropriate power to act and solve a problem.”Jeanne Bliss, President, CustomerBliss

Friendliness

Friendliness is a basic expectation for employees who interact with customers on a daily basis. Contact center environments are often fraught with heavy workloads and frustrated customers. Great customer service reps remain friendly—despite these realities—and interact with customers in a warm, engaging manner.

“People who work in the customer service and support space are by nature warm, helpful and caring. Yet once you put a headset on them, they seem to lose all sense of humanity. Customer service and support contact centers created this environment and leaders must unravel this and evolve.”Hui Wu-Curtis, GM, Customer Service Operations and Strategy, Arizona Public Services

Good Listener

An important aspect of customer service is making the customer feel heard—this can make all the difference during a challenging interaction. Great sales reps listen carefully to the customer to discern exactly what they need and ask thoughtful questions to increase clarity between the customer and the rep.

“The most important thing you can do as a professional is to listen to your customer and be sure that you are are listening well.”—Brian Costanzo, President, SOCAP International

Competence

If a customer service rep doesn’t know how to answer the question or handle the problem, all the willingness to listen or help won’t do much good. Customer reps need to be equipped with the knowledge of their employer’s products and services.

“Customer service reps need to know their company’s products, service, policies, and procedures. Your customer is contacting you because they need an expert’s help.”Jeff Toister, Founder, Toister Performance Solutions, Inc.

Mindfulness

Mindful reps are more aware of their internal, natural reactions—and it allows them to respond deliberately and offer superior service. When reps practice mindfulness with customers, they read situations more accurately and better gauge how to personalize interactions. Mindful reps are also more aware of their internal reactions so they can respond deliberately to offer superior service.

“It’s important for reps to understand the impact of their decisions and their commentary.”Troy Mills, CEO and Founder, Customer Care Advisory

Launch customer service rep performance to new heights

The time to plan and prepare for the future of customer service is now. Forward-thinking customer service leaders identify disruptive trends, train reps on essential skills, and empower reps to provide superior service—all of which drive team performance. In that spirit, we’ve put together The Future of Customer Service: Insights for the Best Customer Service Teams in the Galaxy. This ebook includes expert advice from today’s customer service leaders and will help launch your team to success. Sign-up below to be notified when the ebook is released!

WANT TO KNOW WHEN THE EBOOK IS LIVE?

Want Amazing Customer Service Reps? Master Soft Skills Training.

Great customer service involves more than a successful face-to-face or phone conversation. As customer service become more experiential, and evolves to include chat, email, and social channels, the pressure to provide a positive experience across every touchpoint increases dramatically.

No matter how a customer encounters your brand, soft skills are essential for a successful customer service interaction. Soft skills, including the ability to communicate, deeply listen, and empathize with people is significant. These traits are more likely to make the customer remember their experience fondly.

Despite the importance of soft skills, most call center training programs focus on hard skills and knowledge about products, services, software, and processes. But, training on a blend of hard and soft skills can drastically improve the quality of customer service. These strategies will help teach, reinforce, and refine agent soft skills in order to provide a superior customer experience every time.

Build skill-based learning

It’s important to understand that soft skills aren’t strictly innate characteristics. While some personality types are inclined to be better at things like communication and patience, there are many ways for agents to learn soft skills, including:

Microlearning—By breaking soft-skill concepts into bite-size lessons, reps are more likely to understand and retain information. The lessons, which should take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete, focus on one soft skill at a time. This format is ideal for contact center employees who are busy fielding interactions—the lesson can be easily completed during idle time. While most training tries to focus on too many things over too long of a time period, microlearning makes it easy to digest information.

Storytelling—One of the most effective ways to teach soft skills is through a story. Story-based learning creates an immersive experience and allows reps to emotionally connect with the subject matter. Leaders can easily utilize a scenario-based story to convey how reps should use a particular soft skill to create a great customer experience. Our customers have found that it’s helpful to share stories that highlight interactions with upset, inquisitive, and dissatisfied customers—in order to teach employees what not to do.

Shadowing—Consider including call shadowing as part of your new hire onboarding process. This is a great opportunity to help new hires to experience soft skills in action, spotlight your best reps, and facilitate connections between team members. When new reps sit-in on different interactions including phone, chat, and email, they gain an understanding of how and when to utilize soft skills. This also provides an opportunity for new agents to ask veteran agents in-depth questions to better understand specific skills.

Reiterate practice opportunities

In order for a customer to be comfortable during interactions, the agent’s soft skills must be natural and not forced. Continued practice improves and reinforces soft skills so reps feel confident enough to seamlessly deliver superior service in real-life situations. Provide ample opportunities to practice with:

Role Play—When it comes to learning soft skills, there is no substitute for realistic practice. Role-play training focuses on relevant customer challenges and mimics interactions that agents have experienced in the past. These sessions, which can be done in-person, online, or over the phone, are a great way for agents to develop skills they need during stressful interactions without any negative impact. Role plays give learners the opportunity to test out both soft skills and knowledge in a practical situation and learn efficiently.

Quizzes—Multiple-choice and short-answer quizzes will help leaders assess whether agents understand soft skill information. Reps learn how to apply soft skills correctly throughout quizzes and guided-response activities. These practice exercises can center around common situations that reps will face, or test how they apply soft skills correctly throughout quizzes and guided-response activities. Our Customer Service Soft Skills lesson walks reps through three familiar scenarios and asks them how they would respond in each.

Foster a culture of feedback

In order to improve, customer service reps also need to receive constructive and positive performance feedback. Drive continuous improvement with:

Coaching—One technique for development is to review reps’ customer service interactions. This is extremely beneficial to provide immediately after a less-than-ideal experience so reps can improve their skills quickly. Consider providing reps with one-on-one coaching sessions or during team exercises if a larger part of the team is struggling with a certain skill. This gives other team members a constructive opportunity to share their best practices and tips for improvement.

Acclamation—Acknowledging positive behaviors and superior customer service interactions should also be part of your feedback loop. Employees appreciate recognition for displaying appropriate skills, plus the positive affirmation will encourage healthy self-evaluation and awareness of their performance.

Incorporating call center soft skill training undeniably leads to a better all-around customer experience. Customer service teams will see an increase in customer loyalty, produce more engaged employees, and drive business growth.

Empower customer service reps with Lessonly

With Lessonly, high-touch service teams serve customers faster, drive consistent support, and elevate the customer experience. Worldwide brands use Lessonly to deliver contextual lessons focused on learning and practicing soft skills. Build a team of productive and engaged reps and take a tour of Lessonly today.

How your Newest Reps Will Be Your Best Reps—In Just Two Weeks

Lessonly’s Sales Development Manager, Kyle Roach, joined our friends at AA-ISP for a webinar entitled, How Your Newest Reps Will Become Your Best Reps in Two Weeks. Kyle shared some best practices and actionable tactics for sales leaders who want to quickly place new sales reps on the path to productivity. If you missed the webinar, here are some of the highlights!

A new rep joins a sales team. They’re talented, outgoing, confident, and eager to do well. But, they have little to no experience with their new team or the company’s process, products, and services. So, how does a sales leader ensure that the new rep starts on the path to productivity on day one?

As Lessonly’s sales development manager, Kyle has experienced this scenario—frequently.  He also knows it’s his responsibility to equip new reps with the knowledge they need to succeed.

We’re really trying to focus on how to provide the knowledge and skills they need to perform the work I know they’re capable of as soon as possible.

Kyle’s team follows a simple, yet effective formula:

Learn + Practice = Perform

With this strategy, Lessonly sales reps are fully ramped—and performing admirably— in just two week’s time.

Provide the puzzle pieces of learning

Kyle notes that starting off with a learning phase is essential. New reps should begin learning knowledge and acquiring information from day one. Kyle compares a sales rep’s first few weeks to building a puzzle,

This is when I give them the pieces of the puzzle. They need to see the pieces before they can start building and putting it together.

At Lessonly, the “puzzle pieces” include an overview of our sales engine, common objections to purchasing, and buyer personas—in addition to the company’s mission, vision, and values. Although reps won’t fully grasp all these ideas in the first few weeks—giving them a bird’s-eye view of the entire job allows them to see how all the pieces work together.

But Kyle has one caveat to this process:

You have to find just the right amount of learning.

That’s the “Goldilocks Conundrum”: Not too big, not too small—but just right. If your reps sit through hours of training meetings or receive large binders stuffed with information, you’re giving them too much to learn. But, if training fails to include an onboarding plan or follows “a learn as you go” approach, you’re not providing enough learning. “Just right” learning is divided into chunks that are always available so reps can review information, and move it from their short-term to long-term memory

To aid learning, Kyle asks re’s to spend their first day shadowing the team’s best reps. By pairing new hires with the highest-performing reps, the likelihood that’ll they catch onto—and imitate—best practices increases. As their first week progresses, reps learn role-specific items, shadow calls, and receive marketing collateral. By the end of the week, they’re ready to take learning into their own hands. Kyle adds:

We provide reps with a dealer’s choice opportunity. We allow each hire to choose where they would like to spend their time for additional learning and ask them to spend one to two hours each day during the second week focusing on those topics.

Opportunities for practice decrease ramp time

We hear about practice a lot and we always talk about practice, but often times, teams skip it.

As reps move through the learning process, Kyle believes that it’s important to offer opportunities for practice—early and often. A simple place to start is with the call shadowing that new reps complete on their first day. As part of this exercise, reps complete a reflection after each call so they can intentionally consider and process what they learned. They are also asked a series of questions that require them to apply that to practice scenarios.

Reps continue call shadowing on their second day and begin practicing email pitches to different buyer personas. By day three, they practice their responses to common objections during a sales pitch and continue the shadowing and reflection process. The practice activities evolve on days four and five to include role-play scenarios and reflections on case studies. The first week concludes with a “final exam.”

The final exam is not meant to be daunting. Instead, it’s an opportunity for sales reps to show off what they’ve learned in the week. We give them an email to craft, a cold call to role play, and other fun, cultural activities.

While some teams would end their practice opportunities after the “final exam,” Lessonly’s sales team continues to practice during their second week by role-playing cold calls. These sessions include five to ten-minute meetings with various team members to practice a call and receive coaching and feedback. Kyle notes that while some teams may be worried that requires too much effort, his team has found it invaluable.

We hire people who want to do great work. They come in ready to go—so don’t be afraid to front-load some info and have them practice quickly. They’ll get it and they’ll love that they can interact with the team and jump into the role.

No task is too small when it’s time to perform

By the time new reps get to their fourth day of work, they’re ready to receive tasks to complete. First, reps start to build a prospect list, which is a process-heavy commitment for the team. It takes time and practice, so it’s a natural item for reps to start with. During the second week of work, reps will message prospects from the list they created and set meetings—a strategy that has seen fantastic success.

Lessonly’s reps are performing job-specific responsibilities, like prospecting, researching, and emailing by day six. This is a 70% decrease in “days to first meeting.”

The key to effective performance is to tie rep’s tasks to business metrics and KPIs. These KPIs will ensure that reps stay on the path to productivity. Kyle points out that the stronger and clearer these metrics are, the more likely sales leaders can iterate quickly. If Kyle sees that performance in a certain area, such as cold calling, is lacking, he can advise the rep to go back and practice training centered around cold calling. These KPIs should evolve over time, so they may be different for every new rep:

We always try to improve our metrics with every new hire. If a rep who started in  October had a goal to set four meetings, our rep who started in November may have a goal to set five or six. It’s just one way we work to continuously improve.

Tools to drive success

The learn, practice, perform model is nothing new for high-performing teams. Best-in-class sales orgs have incorporated this foundation into their onboarding and training programs with radical success. But, in order for it to be impactful, Kyle credits two essential tactics and tools:

  • Automate the process as much as possible. The Lessonly team uses our employee training software to remove the manual labor of scheduling so that training moves faster. Sales leaders create unique learning paths and empower reps to schedule their own meetings to increase interacting with coworkers.
  • Democratize the learning process to include the entire team. It’s important to have a team who can teach, lead, and manage new reps. By tapping into the skills of the entire time—rather than a single trainer—shadowing, role plays, and evaluation will be more effective. On the whole, this approach helps teams build camaraderie and encourage one another to succeed. 

Sales reps learn, practice, and perform with Lessonly

Lessonly’s online training software is purpose-built for sales training that works. High-growth and rapidly changing teams use Lessonly to train new reps, practice skills, and drive performance. See how the best sales leaders use Lessonly and take a tour today.

When Search Comes up Short: How Customer Service Teams Win

Matt is a customer service agent at a large, global retailer. He’s a model call center rep—he works hard, has high first call resolution, and receives a consistently high NPS from customers. Matt takes a call from Mandy, a busy mom of two children. The major appliance she recently bought is acting up, and Mandy has a clarifying question about the product’s warranty. Unsure of the correct answer, Matt searches for information in his employee training software—the company’s primary knowledge base. Unfortunately, his search comes up short. He can’t find any helpful content. Mary begrudgingly sits on hold, while Matt finds someone who knows the answer.

This scenario happens thousands of times every day at call centers across the globe. But one forward-thinking Lessonly customer decided to do something about it. This large conglomerate found that many of their employees were turning to Lessonly with questions, but weren’t finding the answers. Our customer saw the large volume of null searches as a unique opportunity to analyze search data, improve training content, and boost business productivity.

Identify gaps in training

While many training programs provide high-level metrics like completions, overdue assignments, and quiz scores, they don’t provide specific, actionable insights about business performance. Lessonly champions data over principles to drive continuous rapid improvement—and so did our customer. Initially, the company, which didn’t have a large content library, simply guessed at what training their employees needed. Preconceived ideas were driving their decision-making—at the cost of amazing customer service.

Using Lessonly, the organization dug a little deeper and analyzed nearly 200 null searches over a month’s time. After reviewing the type—and amount—of null searches, they identified a number of key topics that weren’t addressed in their current training materials.  This search data provided targeted insights on the training topics that employees actually needed to perform their jobs. By pinpointing specific questions and subjects, now the team regularly creates content to address gaps in knowledge and give employees the information they need to deliver a world-class customer experience.

Offer employees with related learning

According to McKinsey, the average worker spends nearly 20% of their work week looking for internal information. In an effort to reduce wasted time by agents, our customer now leverages the search functionality to recommend relevant lessons. When an employee searches for a specific term, such as “warranty”, Lessonly recommends related lessons. Whether this content is assigned or elective, employees are encouraged to access learning anytime and anywhere. Additionally, each manager can track which content is popular— or being ignored— while seeing who’s learned what, when, and how well.

Lessonly’s Learning Library also provides a single hub for all an organization’s knowledge. The Learning Library is topically organized and easily searchable. This means that Matt spends less time searching for answers and more time helping customers. In his downtime, Matt can learn more about products and processes—and he increasingly does better work.

Drive Employee Empowerment

Companies like Matt’s have reaped two-fold benefits from search functionality in their organization. First, Lessonly has positively changed employee behavior. Rather than turning to a colleague for ad hoc information—which may or may not be correct—employees are turning to Lessonly as the ultimate source for organizational truth. This encourages team members to be self-reliant, confident, and problem solvers.

Access to on-demand knowledge has also propelled the team forward to greater productivity. Employees spend less time searching for answers and more time learning information that is critical to their role. When employees have the tools they need to do their jobs, they become more engaged and happier at work—which leads to successful teams and businesses.

Our Customers Aren’t Content With the Status Quo

Call center agents wasting time looking for essential information is not ideal. Our customer didn’t see null searches as an issue—they saw it as an opportunity—and changed their business accordingly. We believe that employees do their best work when they have on-demand access to answers, and Lessonly for Chrome brings the power of search to employee training—right in your browser. Learn how Lessonly’s employee training software can transform your business. Take a tour today.

Behind the Scenes: How We Do Continuous Training

Most companies recognize the importance of team training, but struggle to implement a training program or employee training software. This blog series offers an inside look at how the Lessonly team uses our own software to do better work. We hope these tips and examples provide a framework for effective and engaging team learning.

Think back to the first day of your job. Now take a look at where you—and your company—are at today. Hopefully, both you and your organization have grown and changed for the better.

Here at Lessonly, we’ve experienced tremendous change over the years. With a constant flow of new roles, products, features, and processes, there’s plenty of knowledge that needs to be shared at any given time. That’s why we are advocates for continuous employee training—not just one-time onboarding. We believe ongoing training:

Boosts Performance—Continuous training empowers employees with essential information and gives them the confidence to do better work. Oftentimes, this results in a measurable increase in employee performance—which is key to driving organizational productivity.

Increases Employee Satisfaction—By investing in their personal growth, ongoing training communicates to employees that they are valued and appreciated. This positively impacts retention and engagement.

Expands Knowledge and Skills—Continuous training reinforces best practices, encourages knowledge retention, and promotes the practice of essential skills—recalibrating team members for optimal performance.

While there are plenty of advantages to ongoing training, here are just a few examples of how Lessonly benefits from a culture of continuous learning.

Create Company-Wide Consistency

Recently, every single Lessonly employee, no matter what department, practiced pitching our product. . First, we took a lesson that featured in-depth information about who we are, what we do, and why we do it. The lesson also walked us through key messaging and positioning strategies. At the end of the lesson, each employee recorded a practice pitch with Video Response, enabling each of us to receive feedback and coaching for improved delivery and consistency.

You may be asking, “Don’t you already learn these things during employee onboarding?” Yes—but while this information is included in our onboarding process, it’s important to receive supplemental training over time. Studies show that employees only retain a small percentage of onboarding material—plus we’ve experienced a variety of company and industry changes—so providing employees with an up-to-date lesson was essential. As we continue to grow, it’s imperative that we’re all telling the same Lessonly story during key conversations‚—and providing opportunities for every employee to get on the same page.

Leverage In-Person Meetings

Continuous training is also essential for managers and team leaders. Recently, we started monthly meetings that help our management team develop key leadership skills and traits. In order to make these “management study halls”  as impactful as possible, managers complete lessons ahead of time that focus on various principles and topics. This means that in-person meetings can be used for feedback, questions, and open discussion—as opposed to conveying baseline information.

Pairing in-person and online training is extremely beneficial for employee development. In our case, it allows managers, who juggle numerous responsibilities and busy schedules, to efficiently develop new skills.

The managers also provide feedback and ask questions ahead of the meetings—allowing the training facilitator to prepare and design each in-person meetings so they address real concerns of attendees. This maximizes the impact of each meeting and pushes our managers—and the whole company—toward success.

Gain New Product Knowledge

Last fall Lessonly released a new product and a new software feature in the same week. But before we could share the exciting news with the world, we needed to equip employees with information about each offering. So, we created lessons full of new product and feature knowledge. To ensure everyone understood these items, each lesson also included quizzes and opportunities to “Ask the Expert” for clarification.

Having a knowledgeable team inevitably leads to empowered employees, increased sales, improved customer service, and enhanced relationships with customers.

We make product training an integral part of our continuous training efforts—the upside is huge We also create specific lessons for each department, rather than providing the same generic training to everyone. These tailored lessons, updated regularly, keep each team on the path to productivity.

Drive Continuous Training with Lessonly

With Lessonly, companies and managers provide ongoing training that helps customer service agents and sales reps around the world succeed. Our modern training software makes it easy to transform essential information into engaging training that empowers employees. Take a tour today and see how over a million employees learn—and win—with Lessonly.

What Makes a Great Lesson?

Apple founder Steve Jobs once said, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” We agree—the best work happens when it’s a team effort, and training is no exception. That’s why we’re committed to partnering with our customers to create industry-leading learning programs.

Here at Lessonly, we have plenty of practice building lessons and helping customers create their own. So, we’d like to share with you some of the insights we’ve learned along the way to make training engaging, interactive, and impactful for your employees.

Engage Learners with Simple Content

Tip 1: The first question most lesson creators ask is, “What should I include in my lesson?” Start by zeroing in on one idea or job function at a time. Since you can’t teach employees everything at once, focus on three sub-ideas or responsibilities, and build the lesson around that framework. Jump start this process with our employee training plan builder and tap into the expertise of your team members to identify important job tasks.  

Tip 2: When building a lesson, it’s crucial to capture and deliver work knowledge simply—this increases the effectiveness of the lesson. This is when the classic acronym K.I.S.S—keep it simple, stupid—is useful. Be sure the lesson includes only most important information in a concise and to-the-point manner so employees can clearly understand it.

Tip 3: In order to keep lessons interesting, look for ways to break up text with engaging elements such as images and video. This is an easy way to add context to the lesson or explain something in more detail. For example, we love using screen capture to show employees how to follow a specific process, such as adding a lead in Salesforce. Just remember to keep video content relevant and brief so employees stay engaged.


Tip 4: The most effective lessons are designed to be short and easy to complete. The “microlearning” format breaks training down into bite-sized pieces that educate employees on a single subject—increasing learning engagement. If you need to share a lot of information related to one subject, consider breaking lessons down into more manageable chunks within a learning path so employees can easily digest the information.

Test Knowledge with Quizzes and Practice Scenarios

Tip 5: Learning new skills and knowledge is important, but it’s critical to make sure that employees understand what they’re learning. Consider adding a few quiz questions throughout the lesson to ensure employees understand and retain the information before they move forward. Lessonly offers both short answer and multiple choice question for the flexibility and customization that work best for your lesson.

Tip 6: The best teams and employees improve their skills through dedicated practice. That’s why great lessons should enable employees to practice and perfect their skills. Video Response allows employees to roleplay common scenarios or rehearse their answers to hone their craft. With Video Response, managers can encourage team practice and offer constructive feedback so employees improve faster.

Improve your Lesson with Performance Data Measurement

Tip  7: A great lesson leads to improved individual and team performance. If your lesson doesn’t deliver measurable results, consider updating so it provides clear and actionable data in two key areas:

  • Business outcomes—Each lesson should be linked to business outcomes such as demos set or average call time for resolution. By measuring these objectives, managers will be able to see if a lesson is providing the knowledge and skills that are needed to drive these outcomes.
  • Learning metrics—Lessons also provide valuable insights that determine the return of learning (ROL). Take a look at lesson quiz scores, feedback, and completion rate to see if employees are engaged in the lesson and understand the materials. This will help identify gaps in the lesson that needs to be addressed.

While building a lesson may sound intimidating—it’s not! These seven tips are a great foundation to build a lesson that delivers results. When in doubt, remember that every lesson should help employees learn, practice, and perform. This model will radically improve your lesson, and place your team on the path to greater productivity.

Lessonly isn’t just online training software

Lessonly is a full-service solution for all of your training needs. Create content, deliver it to your team, and measure results—all in one place. Interested in learning more about what makes a great lesson? Join us for our exclusive pre-conference training at Yellowship, where we’ll walk through the best practices for forward-thinking training programs. Learn more and register here.

Behind the Scenes: How We Do Sales Enablement

Most companies recognize the importance of team training, but struggle to implement a training program or employee training software. This blog series offers an inside look at how the Lessonly team uses our own software to do better work. We hope these tips and examples provide a framework for effective and engaging team learning.

Sales enablement isn’t just a buzzword—it’s evolved as a strategic investment for every high-performing sales team and organization. And, while the definition of sales enablement varies based on who you ask, any sales leader will agree that sales enablement produces effective and efficient sales teams.

As part of Lessonly’s sales enablement efforts, our vision is to deliver learning and on-demand development opportunities that empowers sales reps to perform at the highest level. Bryan Naas, our Director of Sales Enablement, breaks down how we equip reps with the on-demand knowledge, skills, and resources they need to reach personal and company goals.

Purposely Organize Learning Content

Lessonly makes it easy to create and share learning content. By democratizing content creation across the entire team, we’re able to capture a wealth of knowledge and expertise from experienced SDRs, AEs, and managers. But more content isn’t the only answer. It needs to be organized to ensure teams receive the right materials—right when they need them. Here’s how we organize learning content:

Learning Library— Using topics and groups, we organize our learning library so each team sees content that is most relevant to their day-to-day role. For example, when someone from our sales team opens the learning library, they’re presented with lessons focused on navigating the sales process, presenting value, and more.

Learning Paths— Paths makes it easy for our sales managers to create a customized, comprehensive learning experience for every sales rep—at every stage of their career. From powering a new rep’s onboarding process to providing on-demand training about a specific sales task, Paths enables unique learning journeys for increased productivity and engagement.

Skill-Based Learning—To take learning to the next level, we organize content around the competencies and skills needed for each job function. New and veteran sales reps receive on-demand training and development on the same competencies and skills to ensure there is a consistent structure across the entire team. So, if a team member is looking for territory development strategies—a key skill for all of our reps—they’ll easily find applicable lessons in their learning library to improve that skill.

Provide Practice Scenarios

While learning is important, we believe practice is imperative for great training and development. Practice improves skills, reinforces essential behaviors, and increases knowledge retention to keep our sales team on the path to high-performance. Because there is always room for improvement, we implement practice scenarios throughout the learning process including:

Product Pitches—For every new product or feature that Lessonly releases, our sales team receives training so they know how to best communicate the value to customers and prospects. For each new release, we build a lesson that features a practice scenario in which the rep pitches that product. They use Video Response—a Lessonly element that enables reps to record their practice pitch. Once submitted, their manager reviews the clip and offers feedback and coaching for improved delivery and performance.

Product Demos—Our sales team loves sharing Lessonly’s product with potential customers, and product knowledge is just one component of a successful demo. Our reps also practice product demos that are customized for specific customers to help them hone their story for each scenario. We’ve found that Video Response is helpful in these situations, as it captures how well reps can simultaneously deliver the product pitch and show off the product.

Email Outreach—According to the State of Inbound Sales Report, email is still the second most effective way for sales reps to connect with prospects, only behind a phone call. It’s no surprise reps waste hours agonizing over crafting the best email copy. To minimize the time spent writing emails, we provide best practices and techniques that produce compelling messages. To help our team even more, we develop mock prospect email threads for reps to practice their response to various scenarios.

Deliver Resources to Increase Productivity

In order to maximize the time of our sales reps and provide additional learning resources, we create helpful reference guides, customer data sheets, case studies, and more. These supplemental resources complement the information learned and skills practiced. Each resource is linked to a relevant lesson topic for quick and easy access when and where a rep needs it—so they can focus on the task at hand.

We’ve found this extremely beneficial when learning our sales process. First, reps walk through a lesson teaching them how to move a sales opportunity through the pipeline. Then, we give reps scenarios to practice moving deals from stage to stage. After they’ve practiced, reps are equipped with a “cheat sheet” that defines each stage of the sales process—a quick and easy job aid when they are working on real deals that encourages consistency and increased productivity.

Build Dynamic Sales Enablement with Lessonly

Developing a sales enablement plan doesn’t have to be difficult. Productive sales teams around the world use Lessonly to give reps the information they need, right when they need it. Start unlocking the potential of your sales team and take a tour of Lessonly today.

 

The 2018 State of Retail Employee Training [Infographic]

As we examine retail and consumer trends—both in-store and online—we’re convinced that better associate training leads to exceptional experiences for customers. We hope this infographic informs and inspires retail leaders as they equip employees with the knowledge and skills needed to serve consumers. Enjoy!

View on SlideShare or share this infographic:

Behind the Scenes: How We Do Employee Onboarding

Most companies recognize the importance of team training, but struggle to implement a training program or employee training software. This blog series offers an inside look at how the Lessonly team uses our own software to do better work. We hope these tips and examples provide a framework for effective and engaging team learning.

Over the last few years, the Lessonly team has grown a lot. We quickly learned that employee onboarding can make—or break—a team member’s success. Great onboarding improves employee engagement, ramp time to productivity, retention rates, and the company’s bottom line. Because of this, we’re always updating our onboarding program to ensure we provide the best experience to our new team members.

Here are a few ways that we’ve leveraged our software to drive exceptional employee onboarding.  

Provide Essential and Engaging Preboarding

I joined the Lessonly team just 90 days ago. There were plenty of new job jitters. A few days after excitedly signing my acceptance letter, an email hit my inbox that introduced me to Lessonly. Already sitting in my account were lessons like, “Welcome to the Team” and “An Introduction to Marketing at Lessonly.” These preboarding lessons jump-started my introduction to a new job.

Preboarding efficiently uses the time between accepting the job and the first day of work. When employers share information about their office, company policies, or work logistics, they more effectively prepare new employees for their first day. This process is extremely beneficial—reducing the nerves of new hires, cutting down on administrative tasks, and helping managers provide a better experience for their new employee.

Tactically—one week before their start date, new Lessonly teammates receive a lesson that shares our mission, vision, and values; how to be an ideal team player; and information about our departments and roles. Additionally, this interactive lesson informs employees what to do and bring to nail their first day at Lessonly. By completing my preboarding process, I knew exactly what to expect and was ready to jump right in to my new role.

Create Custom Employee Training Paths

When I walked in the door at Lessonly, my manager had a unique and custom onboarding path waiting for me. Lessonly’s Learning Paths made it easy for him to create a seamless experience that provided the knowledge I needed for my specific role and team. My custom training path featured lessons about key metrics, marketing team objectives, and helpful resources. Instead of overburdening me with too much information at once, my path was laid out over the course of a few weeks—allowing ample time to process information and ask questions when needed.

Onboarding should not solely focus on procedures, processes, and administrative tasks. The best onboarding programs integrate new employees into their teams and the entire company as soon as possible—without overwhelming them.

From providing useful content to outlining performance expectations, effective onboarding should be customized for employees across different teams and roles for maximum impact.

The marketing department isn’t the only team that creates custom training paths. New members of Lessonly’s sales org complete a structured onboarding program that maximizes ramp time to productivity. The program, targeted toward account executives and sales development reps, is divided into three detailed onboarding stages. Each stage has a key theme and clear objectives to ensure that new employees understand what is expected of them during each stage. Additionally, each path requires reps to complete quizzes and assessments to ensure they understand the information before progressing to the next stage. This path ensures a smooth onboarding process for new employees and their managers alike.

Don’t Stop Onboarding: Focus on Long-Term Development

90 days into my not-so-new job with Lessonly, I still receive onboarding lessons. These lessons have equipped me with the knowledge I need to go from new hire to a valuable team member. Recently, I completed a lesson that helped me understand the processes that I needed to complete a new project. The onboarding process continues to be a valuable resource as I’ve accomplished larger projects and taken on more responsibilities.

Unfortunately, many other companies don’t offer their employees an onboarding program like this. According to SHRM, only 15% of companies continue onboarding after six months and many programs end after an employees’ first month on the job. The additional training, check-ins, and coaching sessions can make all the difference in engaging an employee.

SHRM also notes that nearly 90% of employees decide whether to stay or go within the first six months—proving that continued onboarding can have a lasting impact.

The best part of using Lessonly is that every single lesson and piece of information I received during onboarding is still accessible. I can search Lessony’s learning library to revisit the content anytime and anywhere. Whether I want to refresh my memory or find an answer during a moment of need, Lessonly empowers me to do so.

An employee onboarding process is the first impression that new employees have of their new company (outside of the recruiting and hiring process). Astound new teammates with high-quality onboarding and you’ll see higher retention that positively impacts the organization for years to come. If your employees are anything like me, you’ll wow them from the start.

Create a Robust Onboarding Program with Lessonly

Creating custom onboarding at scale doesn’t have to be difficult. Lessonly makes the process easy. Quickly build an onboarding program, share lessons, and measure the results, all within one platform. Take a tour today and see how Lessonly powers game-changing employee onboarding and training.

How Trunk Club Powers Retail Staff Training with Lessonly

Ask any retail employee or stylist, and they’ll tell you the same thing: The fashion industry is constantly changing. So how should a company in the clothing industry deliver exceptional customer service, train their retail staff, and keep up with continuous change? Just ask Trunk Club.

Since 2009, Trunk Club has been disrupting the clothing industry, bringing the world’s greatest clothes straight to doorsteps. With ever-changing fashion trends, evolving customer needs, and busy associates, Trunk Club turned to Lessonly for training that powers change at scale.

“Trunk Club changes every day, by the minute. I love that with Lessonly, we’re able to update content as quickly as our business changes.”—Kathryn Pelino, Sales Training Manager

Not only has Lessonly made it easy for Trunk Club to quickly create and update content—it’s also allowed the team to provide retail staff training like never before.

Effectively transfer knowledge with streamlined training

“With Lessonly, we streamline communication, we make communication easier, and we make training easier.”—Brittany Jansen, Training and Development Specialist

Before Lessonly, Trunk Club ran training with a blend of in-person meetings, physical binders, and Google docs. To keep pace with change, the Trunk Club team needed a better way to communicate and train more than 750 reps and stylists. With Lessonly, Trunk Club associates get up to speed faster than ever. Streamlined training and communication with Lessonly ensures that every rep receives the same information, enabling consistent support across thousands of customers and stylists.

“Lessonly keeps us all on the same page. Lessonly isn’t just a learning resource for new changes, it’s a resource that, moving forward, you can always refer to. I have a whole library that I can access. If I come across a case where I do have to do something that I’m unfamiliar with, I know I can just refer to Lessonly. It’s all there.”—David Rodriguez, Service Associate

Engage employees with intuitive and interactive lessons

While conveying information is valuable, the interactive features of Lessonly are especially exciting for the Trunk Club team. As opposed to static, text-heavy and static training content, the Trunk Club team uses images, videos, flip cards, and more to create engaging and effective lessons. Trunk Club is also looking forward to using Lessonly’s newest features, Video Response, to help their team practice and improve their skills. The Trunk Club team appreciates Lessonly’s powerful simplicity, making it easy to create, edit, access, and complete lessons for the entire team. In turn, better and faster lessons lead to improved efficiency and employee confidence.

“Being able to find that answer on your own not only instills a better confidence but also allows all of our teams to be more efficient. If we’re able to keep that content engaging and interesting for them, they will, in turn, be happier in their jobs.”—Kathyrn Pelino, Sales Training Manager

Measure and improve training to elevate customer experiences

The Trunk Club team also benefits from the measurement and reporting functions within Lessonly. Teams can’t improve what they don’t measure, and training data contains valuable insights about gaps in employee knowledge. Currently, Trunk Club offers bi-weekly style quizzes to their team to gauge how well employees understand the material. The data they receive from Lessonly helps them monitor performance—from individuals employees to entire business units.

“We’re looking at everyone’s quality. So, we can see at any given time if a person isn’t performing as well let’s look through Lessonly to see if we need to update the lesson, the process, or re-engage that associate.”—Katie Bithos, Service Lead

Trunk Club is revolutionizing how consumers buy clothes, and we’re proud of our small role in helping them accomplish that mission. They have seen an immediate impact from Lessonly—reps get up to speed more efficiently and stylists receive the regular updates on products and processes they need to succeed in their jobs. And when they do better work, they live better lives.

“We’re serving up so much content and so many changes to our sales team. If we’re able to keep that content engaging and interesting for them, they will in turn be happier in their jobs. We want to help stylists feel confident in their day-to-day, which allows them to do the best work they can. Lessonly helps us do that.”—Kathryn Pelino, Sales Training Manager

Get Started with Lessonly

With Lessonly, companies and managers quickly transform knowledge into engaging training, empower their employees, accelerate high-performance, and measure the impact of better learning. Read more about how Trunk Club uses Lessonly here or take a tour to see how your team can do better work.