VILT, or Virutal Instruction Led Training is trendy these days. Since we are obliged to either “shelter at home” or somehow work from home, we have all been pushed to go even more virtual. This applies to all our communications and interactions, including trainings and classrooms. Within the last couple months, ZOOM has doubled their market cap while Dow Jones lost 30%. At the same time, our effective bandwidth has been divided by two if not more, in most residential neighborhoods across the country, no matter who we use as ISP.
The trend was already there
At MEDDIC Academy, this is not new. The foundation of MEDDIC Academy was based on an observation that Complex Enterprise Sales Learning environment is old and misses modern tools. It’s not appealing to millennials and we are not attracting the smartest talents. Since our inception, several years ago, we bet on online and virtual learning as a flexible way to expand learning. We are making sales education accessible to all and flexible. We are contributing to an accelerated and scalable on boarding. Some of you know that I am a pioneer in virtual meetings with a Virtual Events platform built in 2007, and Business Hangouts that I founded in 2013 and sold in 2016 after reaching almost 2M users on Google Apps Marketplace. These experiences helped me better understand where “virtual” can add real value and when face-to-face is still efficient.
At MEDDIC Academy, we have been running virtual sessions with the number of participants varying from a handful up to 80, all on camera with no issues. Of course the trend has accelerated in the past couple months and we don’t see any change in the foreseeable future. Coronavirus is changing our habits permanently for many reasons and in many regards!
Blended Learning is still buzzing for us
Back to learning sales: as a reminder, we keep recommending the blended learning experience. We refer to a mix of self-paced learning through our off-the-shelf video-centric courses, and instructor-led training. We explained the ideal process in this article and also made a reference to it in this short video.
Of course when it’s possible, the instructor-led session, usually in the form of a workshop, is to be run face-to-face. But when it’s not possible and when we need to keep training and coaching our sales forces, the VILT (or Virtual Instructor-Led Training) is the best next choice. In par with a flipchart in a face-to-face setup, the instructor presents the exercises on the virtual white board, and asks questions to individual attendees. This way everyone is engaged in the workshop. Is it exactly like face-to-face? Well, not really, but very close. Here are things which are different in a VILT setup compared to a traditional face-to-face:
VILT is actually more practical to run than the face-to-face
I run my workshops in a very interactive way: I ask questions to an attendee and write down his/her answer no matter if it’s a good one or not. Together with other attendees, we collectively analyze it. This will lead to someone suggesting a better answer that we also analyze until we reach the best ones. This way the group learns how and why we reached those best answers.
In a face-to-face setup, I am usually standing, walking or taking notes on a flipchart. This means someone needs to take pictures at the end and later type them to include in the session’s take-away. Sometimes, someone helps me by typing them on a laptop connected to a screen. This too requires some coordination with me in real time and is not very smooth. In VILT mode, I am sitting at my desk and can actually type them in with no distraction or logistics needed. Everyone is seeing what I type. It’s just perfect.
Another benefit is for the attendees taking screenshots of the best content, instead of taking long notes or using their cellphones to take a pic, which is also distracting the audience.
The picture below is from a typical workshop exercise: A screen share of a white board with me typing; taking notes of what the sellers are suggesting as good responses.
Virtual is slower than face-to-face
One downside, however, is that the pace of the workshop is generally slower than the face-to-face. This is especially true if the instructor wants to make sure everyone is following instead of just delivering and walking away. Also technical issues such as interruptions by an attendee’s action can slow down when you add up the seconds/minutes lost here and there. These could also be due to logistics issues such as problems with a microphone, webcam, network, or other disruptions.
VILT offers you a higher ROI compared to face-to-face
The cost of a VILT is much less than face-to-face. I am not talking about the cost of the facilitators’ bill, which is actually not very different, in most cases. But the cost of traveling a geographically spread out sales team is several times the amount of the instructor’s invoice. Therefore you save money by opting for VILT. But let’s be honest about it, VILT is slightly less efficient. Now my point is that the “less” efficient is not as “less” as the cost saving. In other words, if you run 2 or 3 VILTs in the same quarter, you may spend the same amount of money as one single face-to-face. But you get a much better result in terms of learning efficiency and implementation.
Virtual saves your team valuable time
Even though the workshop has a slower pace, the time wasted is measured in minutes or maybe half an hour or so. It’s negligible compared to hours if not a full day or more wasted traveling by each participant. We all know that we want our sellers on the field, or on calls with clients and prospects. Bringing a sales force to a single location not only costs money but is also a waste of time due to the travels. Using that travel time for a 2nd or 3rd VILT is a much smarter move and a much better investment of that time.
VILT keeps our precious talents safe
Our sales forces are our most valuable assets. Using VILT is much safer, not just in the Covid-19 era. There are 38,000 fatalities on the roads only, each year, and in the US alone. During my career I have witnessed the loss of several Sales Executive colleagues due to plane or car accidents. I have never heard of anyone being in danger by typing on their laptop or looking into a webcam.
As always, I’d love to read your comments. And please reach out and let us know how we can help with your next Virtual SKO or QBR and VILT your team 🙂