One comment I consistently hear from both management and customer-facing employees is that they prefer to do things in person versus virtually. As I wrote previously about a virtual kick-off, the reality is that all enablement will be done online for the foreseeable future.
Having done enablement off and on for the last 20 years, I prefer virtual enablement to in-person enablement. It’s controversial for sure, but here are five reasons that virtual enablement is superior.
Shorter learning blocks results in higher retention
There is a reason that college classes are 60 or 90 minutes; the reality is that people retain knowledge in shorter learning bursts. There is plenty of research to support this. This NIH study (sorry, you do have to pay to read) covers how shorter blocks offer higher retention of learning materials.
Those quick bursts of training don’t happen at in-person enablement sessions, for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is that getting people together is expensive. Quite a few times I have heard sales leaders demand 10 hours of enablement a day at an in-person training event. Retention after 10 hours is going to be low, regardless of the next point.
Attendees are more focused and engaged
Yeah, let’s face it when you do in-person enablement, especially when attendees have to travel, people are going to socialize after the training. What does this mean? Well, it means that everyone is hungover when they roll into the session the next day. Hungover attendees are not going to pay attention. Factor in low light conditions in some training environments, and it’s easy to take a snooze or ruminate on your hellish hangover.
It’s not hard to make the virtual enablement interactive
The big knock on virtual enablement is that it’s a slog. The reality is that you can make the training interactive and fun if you put the work into it. In the future, I am going to write a full blog post on making virtual enablement more fun! But here are some quick tips – use breakout features in your web conferencing tools. Zoom’s breakout features are quite easy to use, and by breaking into smaller teams, you can encourage discussion. Other engaging tips are features like game shows or panels. I particularly like game shows, as I dreamed of being a game show host as a child, maybe I still do.
Easier to organize
As an enablement professional, this is one thing I genuinely appreciate. Shorter sessions are easier to find the right speakers to sequence and to execute.
Easier to find an hour versus a week
This is something that sales leadership will appreciate. It’s always hard to find a week that works well for a kick-off or a session on public speaking. Executives and customer demands can take away from those week-long events, as reps should always be selling.
Not to mention scheduling for kick-offs is often after year-end, which means that reps often vacation. Even with the busiest of speakers, it’s possible to find an hour in a week to speak to the team.
In-person enablement will always have a place in my view of enablement. But I prefer virtual enablement, whether live or self-paced. If you give it the right amount of effort and planning, you can simply put together compelling virtual enablement.