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The Future of training: Online? In-the-room? Or both?

The Future of training: Online? In-the-room? Or both?

What is the future of training? At Questas, the past 12 months have taught us a lot about how to successfully deliver virtual training. We know that you can’t simply take a classroom designed training session and simply put it online. It doesn’t work! We know that every minute of online training needs to be thought through and designed so the user experience is engaging.

A Learning Curve

We have learned about various platforms to deliver virtual training on. And a really positive outcome is that we are now accomplished in delivering online training events that are interactive, interesting, challenging and fun.

We have also seen the very real positives of online training for our clients. Here are the pro’s we have seen our clients benefit from when taking part in our tailored online training programmes.

The Pro’s of Online Training

  • Less (zero!) travel time, meaning more time to learn, and less time for employees spent traveling. This means more time can be spent being effectively trained.
  • No restrictions on where attendees are based. We have seen that online training means you can bring together people who may not normally have had the chance to work together. This can boost the potential that collaboration can bring within your organisation.
  • It can bring together people from different regions to work together. This is something that in the ‘real’ world would be costly and time consuming.
  • Efficiencies in delivery;  We have learnt that working virtually, we can actually deliver MORE effective content to teams and pack in more content to our training sessions. Online learning saves both time and money when it come to delivery and production. A real win for businesses!
  • Lower costs:  In-person classrooms require both the trainees and trainers to travel to a pre-determined location in order to conduct a training session. Businesses are typically faced with incurring this travel cost from their training and development budgets. Then add in food & drink costs, and you can start to see where real savings can be made.
  • Less time away from fee-earning and increased productivity. 

 

But even though the pros of online learning are many, you may be surprised to learn that we (or our clients) don’t want to deliver it like this forever. We like being with our clients, in the same room, feeding and feeling the energy that comes with a lively learning environment. Also because we know that our clients are missing out on some benefits of being together, such as networking and creating new relationships.

They miss the energy that comes from some of those fun exercises that get people on their feet and out of their comfort zones. Also the conversations that can develop and help participants share their stories and experiences.

There are downsides to the online training experience:

Reduced social interaction means that people miss the social side of working together in person. Also working online is not the best environment for networking. Love it or hate it, nothing beats the personal networking experience.

We have also seen that some introverts can be more reticent when it comes to online training. We work particularly hard to encourage those who are introverted whilst training, but a minority can sometimes find the online experience harder to fully embrace.

What’s The Solution?

As the restrictions of the last twelve months are slowly lifted, we look forward to continuing to offer effective online training. But we also believe that ‘blended learning’ could become the norm for our clients. Combining the positives of effective online training, with tailored in-person interactions can enhance the learning journey. It can also give people the human ‘fix’ that we so often feel we need.

A look to the future

So keep an open mind tohybrid blended approach to training. It could massively improve the way we deliver the outcomes from training programs, whilst keeping them both cost effective, efficiently delivered whilst allowing for the human/social elements. A win/win for businesses and teams!

If you’d like to know more about our training programmes that help businesses to grow, please get in touch. Email hello@questas.co.uk. 

6 Things to do in 2021 to win a bigger slice of a smaller pie

6 Things to do in 2021 to win a bigger slice of a smaller pie

After an extraordinary 2020, most economic forecasts are predicting a tough year in 2021 for most sectors. Many suggesting we will not reach pre-pandemic levels again until the end of 2022. It’s a gloomy thought and one where the Ostrich strategy of sticking your head in the sand will not help.

Whilst we don’t have a modern precedent to the Coronavirus pandemic, we do have fairly recent data in terms of a worldwide economic downturn in the form of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2010.

One thing that the data from that shows us is that organisations who are prepared to be proactive in terms of business development and client experience management are the ones who will come out of this crisis faster and in better shape than their ‘ostrich-like’ competitors, as this graph from McKinsey demonstrates:

 

So how do you get ahead during a tough year?

Here are our Top 6 Things to Do for Proactive Business Development:

  1. Get focused. Have a laser-beam focus on your target market, you need to be able to clearly and confidently say to your clients (existing and new) “this is how we help you achieve your goals”.
  2. Have a plan! A three-year vision, 12-month objectives and rolling 3 quarterly actions.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Talk to your people, tell them where you’re headed and your plan to achieve it. Earn their buy-in, get them engaged. Remember – a sense of purpose is the No.1 motivator for most people. 
  4. Take care of your people. Put an (virtual if necessary) arm around their shoulders, ask how they’re doing, tell them they’re great and how much they are appreciated. They are how you will survive and thrive in the next two years.
  5. Get the right people in the right roles. Release your work winners from the shackles of utilisation, ensure you have strong leaders in leadership positions. Hire for attitude, train for skill.
  6. Develop necessary skills. Business development and client relationship skills, confidence and behaviours. Everyone who is client-facing is selling the business, whether they know it or not! Train, coach, encourage.

A Business Story

In terms of blueprints, one of the most cited success stories is that of South West Airlines and its founder and former CEO Herb Kelleher. He is famous for having such a compelling and focused business objective: to be the No.1 Low-Cost Airline in the world. Every decision made had to take it towards (or latterly) keep it at that position. When everyone in the business is on-board with that objective,  it makes running a business much simpler.

Herb Kelleher: American billionaire airline businessman who gave great insights into leadership. 

“What if you could build a company that is as human as the human beings in it? What if you could create a culture that inspires passionate people to come to work fully awake, fully engaged, firing on all cylinders because they know they are doing epic work?”

Ok, so we’re not all Herb Kelleher but we can certainly take some of his philosophy to help us improve and grow as people and as a business in 2021. Here’s a few of his leadership gems;

Put employees first, customers second! Herb believed that employees should be treated like customers and celebrated for going above and beyond the call of duty. He explained it like this, “In business school, they’d say, ‘This is a real conundrum”. Who comes first, your employees, your shareholders, or your customers?’ My mother taught me that your employees come first. If you treat them well, then they treat the customers well, and that means your customers come back and your shareholders are happy.”

Simply don’t do office politics or ‘silos’… “A guy said to me the other day; ‘In my department…’ I laughed, and said, ‘Oh, are you not a part of Southwest Airlines anymore? Excuse me I didn’t realise you’d split off.” 

Have a plan, you need a map but always go with the territory: Herb didn’t think much of traditional strategic planning. His famous line was, “We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.” He believed that a plan articulated in a big, three-ring binder was too bureaucratic. His view was that if you have a strategic plan that has been approved by the board and a window of opportunity opens in the market, you must be able to spring into action. 

Culture is the boss: It is a culture that recognises the value of the individual, which encourages an entrepreneurial spirit, which helps people to find the career that makes them happy, and which encourages people to have fun at work. These are the very reasons for our success.”

We know that 2021 is likely to be a tough year but there is business out there. Whether you are targeting the public or private sector, there will be opportunities. All you have to decide is, how you are going to win you share of the pie?

Pitch Perfect – How to use story telling to structure the perfect business pitch

Pitch Perfect – How to use story telling to structure the perfect business pitch

Storytelling connects people and builds trust in business, which means the best way to make your pitch memorable is to turn it into a story.  This isn’t a new method – the blueprint for successful storytelling has been around for a long time. You only have to look at the structural mechanisms used in Hollywood or Ancient Greece to fully understand the impact a good story can make.

 

So what can we learn from the masters of story telling, when it comes to pitching in business? It’s all about copying their 3 act structure to make your pitch irresistible.

Act I: The Situation ((The hero’s world before the adventure starts)

To begin your story, paint a picture of the current situation. Demonstrate that you have an extraordinarily deep understanding of this part of the story by painting a picture laden with references to the client’s world. It is here that you should introduce your characters, ideally developing the protagonist (possibly your client or their customers).  You need a hook that will capture their imagination early on, so if using a slide deck make the hook slide No.1! It should be something that will capture the attention, possibly even create some discomfort.

Act II: The Confrontation (The hero’s world is turned upside down)

Demonstrate the client’s problem, perhaps introducing it as small on the surface but one that becomes more complex the more you delve into it. Break the big problem down into its component parts and ensure your audience is clear about the size of the challenge.  Try and build the tension as you tell the story, so that your audience will have an emotional response as you show what could happen if these issues are not dealt with. Develop high stakes! Your audience must feel that one more attack from the bad guys will result in disaster for the protagonist (and their business)!

Act III: The Resolution (Hero conquers villain, but it’s not enough for the hero to survive. The hero or the world must be transformed!).

Time to reveal your final act. Using your solution, show the protagonist overcoming a myriad of obstacles and demonstrate how each issue gets blown away. You need to give your audience an exciting dopamine hit by giving glimpses of the solution that will work for them. Use your storytelling to create a picture of the utopian future, one where your client longs to be! 

Then it is time for the big finish.  This is where you bring it all together to create the happy ending for your story and your client. All the trials and lessons your character has endured help them to  solve the problem, and to save the day (and all with your help)!

10 Steps To A Successful Virtual Business Development Meeting

10 Steps To A Successful Virtual Business Development Meeting

10 Steps To A Successful Virtual Business Development Meeting

Virtual business development meetings have become a way of life for many of us.  Ensuring they are successful requires a well thought out plan of action.

If you are a business developer, client relationship manager, or a technical expert who is required to win business from both new and existing clients, then how you manage your virtual meetings is crucial if you are to get the positive outcome your job requires. Luckily, we have come up with a way to help you!

THE CURRENT CHALLENGE

With the majority of buyers and sellers working online, the pressure is on to make our virtual Business Development meetings compelling, memorable and ultimately, to motivate clients to buy.

THE GOOD NEWS

The good news is that clients still need to buy your services. We have created a simple 10 Step Plan to help you increase your chances of success.

1.Preparation

Before you start your meeting, ensure that you understand your audience. Do you know what each person on the call is looking for? Research suggests there are between 4-7 stakeholders involved in making decisions, so try to understand who those people are and where they are coming from. Rehearse the opening, particularly if you are co-presenting with a colleague.

2.Pre-call Engagement

What can you do before the call that is relevant, informative and valuable? Perhaps send a thought leadership piece on the subject you’re due to discuss? Or a video introduction with an agenda or discussion topics? Even at this point you are building relationships and showing your knowledge of your client’s world.

3.Technology

Take the time to get to know your video calling platform. Learn the tools, ensure that Internet connectivity is solid and have a contingency plan! If we have learnt anything about virtual meetings, it is have a Plan B if your technology glitches.

4.Be ready!

Get on the call a minimum of 5 minutes early, so you can check everything is working and be calm and ready when your clients arrive.

5.Introductions

Cameras on! Start the meeting by facilitating a who’s who on both sides, including each persons role in this meeting if appropriate. You want everyone to feel included and important.

6.Build Rapport

Take time to do the small talk at the start of the meeting – it matters! It’s all you have to create a human connection and we know that if we don’t make the emotional connection we reduce our chances of success by as much as 25%. Try to find common ground to help build those relationships.

7.Inform

Start the meeting by checking their time availability, explaining the agenda and how you see the meeting playing out. For example, are you inviting questions throughout or holding to the end? If you need to tell them about your organisation, do so but keep it short! This is not the time to go into detail about when the company was formed, the number of services you provide, how many offices you have. Keep your ‘corporate positioning’ short and sweet, no longer than 2 minutes.

8.Investigate

This is where to spend the majority of your time. Explore their world, ask good, open questions. Listen like you’ve never listened before. Be aware of the dreaded ‘professional pounce. (Read more about this in our 3i Meeting guide.)

9.Summarise and Inspire

At an appropriate point (with around 15mins remaining of the meeting) ask the client if it would be a good point to summarise your understanding of their situation, its challenges and any opportunities. Once you have the green light reflect back the key points, emphasise those areas where you sensed the biggest issues and concerns

10.Gain commitment

Bring the meeting to a close by asking the client what they see as next steps. It might require you to hold your nerve at this point and allow a short period of silence. Don’t worry this is perfectly normal and will put you in the driving seat. As soon as they respond they are involved in that next step.

After of all that hard work, it’s vital that you follow up in the next few days, ideally sending something that speaks to the discussion you had and will add further value to your client.

Our training is bespoke to each client – see our approach and how we can help your business grow.

questas steaming coffee cupTurning the listening up to 11!

Turning the Listening Up to 11 - Questas Espresso Shot Webinars
Now more than ever in Business Development, we need to listen to our clients to gain the insight that will help provide competitive advantage and close the deal.

Try our Espresso Shot Learning – Our 30 min live webinar to give your team the key points and latest thinking in Business Development and Client Relationship Management.

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Training online, moving from the classroom and maintaining effective learning

Training online, moving from the classroom and maintaining effective learning

Last month we delivered what would have been our two full day face to face classroom workshop in Key Client Management & Winning Work  to clients in Canada online. One thing we already knew – you can’t just take a classroom course and deliver it online, there’s so much more to think about. How do you engage your audience; know they aren’t distracted and know they are taking the information on board?  With over 20 years experience in corporate training we took the principles and tested on ourselves, our colleagues and friendly clients how best to adapt to get it right online. And those rehearsals were the best investment we could have made!

Here’s what we learnt delivering Live Virtual Classroom Training:

Engage with participants before they attend the first training session

  • Ask them how they’re feeling, get a sense of what issues are common. We sent a survey to uncover the key challenges our delegates were facing.
  • Arrange short calls with key stakeholders to get different perspectives.
  • Give your participants a flavour of what they can expect and what they will learn.

Set the expectations

  • Virtual training always starts and ends on time! Make that clear from the outset and reduce the number of latecomers.
  • Learning works when there aren’t other distractions. Set the expectation that phones are off, children are being looked after and the dog’s been let out already.
  • Make clear that there will be time for tea/coffee/water/comfort breaks but always set a clear time to reconvene.

Get to know your audience

  • Making those human connections at the start of the sessions is very important when you are not in the same room. Give people something about you as trainers and invite them to share information about themselves – game play is a fun and effective way to do this.
  • Make time for the informal chats towards the end of the formal sessions.
  • But equally take people offline if they have follow up that may not be relevant to everyone else…no one wants to be sat looking at the screen longer than they need to.

Plan your audience

  • Better to do more training sessions with less people than trying to get more people through in one go.
  • Your delegates learning is your primary objective so keep the number of delegates in a session to a minimum (max 12) and for breakout sessions even less (max 6).
  • As you would in a classroom assess if your delegates have strengths and weaknesses that will complement or support others in smaller groups situations

Keep it interactive

  • Check in with questions or reaffirm points if you think attention is wavering. Running a poll or quick interactive quiz is a good way to checking information is being retained.
  • Use Role Play. We were sceptical this would work but it turned out to bring the most engagement and deliver the best results.
  • Set homework. Especially if you are able to make it so it requires collaboration with others.

Managing Screen/Engagement Fatigue

  • Keep the content fresh and dynamic. It is not an over exaggeration to say we planned every minute of these sessions. At times it became close to a theatrical performance with audience participation timed to perfection
  • Your voice, facial expressions and your hands are your main communication tool so make sure your audience can see them. Ensure your camera is at eye level!
  • Use Visuals to back up key points – say it, say it again while showing it. Use animation with purpose. If you are going to make a key point or illustrate change in time, animation is a great tool but don’t over use it.

But we can’t stress enough the number one lesson….rehearse, amend, rehearse.

LIVE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM

A highly collaborative and interactive online training environment. Especially effective where behavioural change is an objective these facilitated sessions are designed for smaller groups.

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