There is a surge of firms offering virtual soft-skills training since the onset of Covid-19 and Social Distancing. If you are considering scheduling your precious and expensive resources into one of these courses, here is a list of nonnegotiables for anyone offering this form of training.
✓Proven Satisfaction Metrics
Courses designed initially for in-person events will not be effective in a virtual setting unless they are entirely re-engineered. Insist on customer satisfaction metrics that compare their virtual training with their on-site offerings. Require that they back up those statistics with their sample size. Anyone can claim a high satisfaction index from one or two clients that are “friendlies.” The satisfaction scores must be within two percent of each other to warrant further consideration of their offering.
The first indication that you are dealing with a virtual soft-skills training “poser” is if they don’t have professionally developed and produced, self-paced lessons and exercises. This component is critical to successful virtual training as it maximizes student time, student learning, and skill development. Self-paced learning and exercises ensure that your professionals arrive at their live/virtual coaching event with a full understanding of the material, completed exercises, and poised to practice in front of their coach and potentially their peers. 100% live/virtual instruction, exercises, and coaching are rife with connection issues, multitasking distractions, and a wide variability of teaching effectiveness. Don’t risk it.
✓Professional Course Development and Production
As mentioned above, self-paced learning and exercises are a requirement for successful virtual learning. Those lessons and exercises must extend well-beyond just the educational component. They must be “bite-sized” and easy to consume as smaller pieces that lead to a larger understanding. Not just a 1-hour video you have to slog through and hope you remember what they talked about at the beginning. In addition, the experience needs to be engaging, interesting, challenging, and educational. Require each of your soft-skills training candidates to provide you with a license to their complete course and follow the lessons. Sales and Pre-sales professionals are often visual or kinesthetic learners. This means the lessons should incorporate video with excellent lighting, sound quality, graphics, and challenging exercises. It will be quickly apparent if the firm does not use professionals in the production and post-production of the course. If what you see is the founder of the training company standing in front of a whiteboard and/or presenting bullet-point slides as the education portion of the course…well…run!
✓Modern Virtual Experience
Learning Management Systems (LMS) have been around for decades. Legacy systems are cumbersome and inflexible. Modern systems are optimized for video, provide categorization to courses, and provide the student the flexibility to move through the material at their pace and choosing. Insist on a license to the course and see how well you can understand and freely navigate the material.
✓Masterful Virtual Delivery
Highly curated and professional virtual facilitators are absolute masters at the live-virtual portion of the course. They never need to apologize for poor connectivity, technical issues, or unfamiliarity with the tool. Their use of a webcam is excellent. Their sound quality is professional. They make use of tools like whiteboards, chat, and polling. They use people’s names to engage them and never worry about participants multitasking because they know how to engage their audience. Your first gauge as to the professionalism of your training firm candidates is by their use of their virtual tools in the sales process.
✓Transparency in Evaluation
Perhaps you’ve arrived at this portion of the blog, knowing that the vendor you want to select doesn’t meet many of the criteria I set forth above. Your final gate needs to be their satisfaction indicators. Require the firm to send you“as-is” redacted evaluation comments from the past TEN virtual course deliveries. Censoring for company names, student names, etc. is expected. The potential training firm will (of course) send you positive comments. But, insist that they send you what the students said were areas for improvement.