Remote 2.0: Virtually closing the gap in IT training and sales

Remote working

Nothing will entirely replace meeting face-to-face, particularly when it comes to IT training and sales. After all, you’re dealing with complex solutions in precise applications. That requires seeing a product in action, demonstrated in real-world scenarios and hands-on test drives.

With the arrival of COVID-19, in-person meetings, events, user groups and training sessions ground to a halt, impacting IT education and sales. While other industries immediately sought to move employees onto basic conferencing platforms like Zoom or WebEx, those in tech had more sophisticated needs, closer to remote 2.0 in comparison. Foremost, training and sales teams have to effectively deliver user and prospect experiences that can transcend today’s physical limitations, turn heads and improve the bottom line. The following are some areas to focus on to elevate your game and bridge the in-person/virtual gap.

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Make virtual viable

Employees may feel they’re practicing working from home, but make no mistake, the shift to remote will have a lasting impact on how we do business. Companies are realizing the long touted benefits of reaching anyone, anywhere with only a browser and internet connection. The cloud is the "great enabler," overcoming distance, time and tech barriers, even in complex IT training and sales.

The trick is using virtual IT labs and finding a cloud service provider (CSP) that fits your particular needs. For instance, large commodity CSPs are great for low-cost storage and raw power. However, they don’t offer the purpose-built tools and automation of specialty providers, so heavy lifting is required to replicate products and build real-world challenges for those hands-on experiences. You need IT skills to create operating systems, databases, security, applications and more.

This is not to say you can’t use Amazon or Google Cloud for IT training and sales. If your company has a preferred commodity platform, you just want a more specialized solution that can sit on top, while seamlessly integrating your other core learning management systems (LMS) and sales tools.

Choose wisely and you’ll eliminate friction, reduce cycles and accelerate results.

Drive engagement

Those new to remote suddenly find their work now competes against other factors. Children are home, parents and partners are juggling schedules, various time zones make it difficult to coordinate meetings. Further, virtual can make it more of a challenge to read a room, apply that charm and assist. So, it’s imperative that trainers and sales pros lift engagement. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Make it easy: User-friendliness facilitates engagement, adoption and progress. Be sure your conferencing, core training or virtual IT labs and sales tools are not only easy to use, they’re integrated into a single centralized platform to prevent frustration. The same goes for related collateral. The more people must look for resources, the less they’re engaged with your solution.
  • Make it convenient: Incorporate self-paced and self-service training so users have greater flexibility. For sales, use hands-on test drives after presentations so users can get a real feel for the product at their own convenience.
  • Provide assistance: With virtual instructor led training (VILT), be sure your people can see what learners are doing and they have chat to offer assistance. When it comes to sales proofs of concept (PoCs), ensure your platform offers insight so you can know if a prospect is stuck and take action. You want targets to remain engaged, not get frustrated and walk away.

Get creative

It’s not easy to read a room - or turn on that interpersonal charm - when you’re not in it. And when it comes to trade shows, people like to roam the floors, collect tchotchkes, reconnect with friends and expand their networks. It’s not that you can’t receive the same education or influence people virtually, you’ve just got to compensate for the missing human factor, so get creative.

Feeling an event void? Consider hosting your own, virtually. Just be sure you can demo products and highlight presentations in powerful, real-world ways. Further, be sure you can scale and remember you’ll need many special environments. Again, make it easy; nothing will turn participants off faster than having to deploy all sorts of apps to participate or sluggish online performance.

Build in games, conduct and post audience surveys, hold a virtual cocktail party. And those tchotchkes? Look for virtual alternatives or ship them.

Foremost, though, build creative environments. Learning by doing is one of the best ways to retain information, so provide hands-on experiences. For training, enable participants to experiment with products without causing harm to the rest of the company’s environment. For sales, allow prospects to play in setups and PoCs for a couple weeks after the initial demo, a move that also shows you have confidence in your offerings.

Remote work is going to become more of a way. Now’s the time for those fields dominated by face-to-face interactions to take it up a notch by developing the means to virtually close that gap.

Image credit: londondeposit/depositphotos.com

Dr. Zvi Guterman is founder and CEO of CloudShare, the business acceleration cloud company. Designed for complex demos, PoCs and training, CloudShare replicates real-world environments, while helping companies eliminate friction and reduce cycles for better results, faster. More than 500 customers in 100+ countries trust CloudShare, including Palo Alto Networks, Atlassian, Sophos, Dell and HP.

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