Education: Higher Ed
Helping Students Succeed With Video Practice in Higher Education
How video-based practice and coaching enables Georgia State University reps to ramp up faster and ensure training return on investment.
“Although this was our first experience with the platform, it will not be our last. We look to use it for future competitions and as a core educational tool for our entire sales community and sales certification training. I highly recommend the system to any sales manager, training lead or instructor. We found it offers a great way to optimize results while overcoming many of the obstacles and disadvantages inherent in conventional training approaches.”
Georgia State University
Georgia State University is one of just a handful of schools nationally that offers professional sales certification to undergrad students of any major. In addition to hands-on sales training, certification also involves coursework covering topics such as sales management, key account strategies, and negotiation.
Georgia State has a talented and motivated pool of aspiring sales students but as in any sales organization, effective skill development requires a combination of sales instruction and practice in a realistic sales environment. Delivering this to a mix of on-campus and commuter students is complicated by factors such as time, distance, class schedules, activities, and jobs.
“While our students love to learn, they do it best when the material and delivery are engaging and fun,” says Kent Jones, Instructor at Georgia State University.
Like in corporate life, faculty coaches and professional mentor volunteers often had similar challenges providing timely and actionable feedback. Just like the students, faculty coaches and mentor volunteers often have full-time jobs, making commuting impractical in order to serve a student who could only meet at the downtown Atlanta campus or practice role-plays at 2 AM.
These issues came to a head as Jones prepared a student team for an upcoming sales competition. Collegiate sales competitions host dozens of high-caliber sales students from across the country competing in a series of simulated sales engagement role-plays. Depending on the role-play scenario, student competitors may engage a new prospect, present benefits, handle objections, and/or close the sale. Like any meaningful sales pursuit, there’s big money at stake—student champions can walk away with thousands of dollars in hand. However, winning requires a lot of effective preparation and it has historically been very difficult for faculty sales coaches, mentors, and students to connect in the same room at the same time for training.
In addition, Jones frequently requires a wheelchair for mobility, making it much more difficult for him to fulfill face-to-face coaching obligations. When exploring the Rehearsal video-based practice and coaching platform, Jones saw a very creative and compelling solution to these challenges.
In sales training, there is often a trade-off between quantity and quality. As a sales manager, travel distances and time conflicts make it impractical to train as often or as thoroughly as you’d like. Academic sales training faces very similar challenges where student competitors are required to quickly master complex solution presentation, objection handling, and closing strategies.
Like many sales teams, GSU’s program strives to be quick and agile. In this pursuit, technology can offer both an advantage and an obstacle. Technology can offer a great way to effectively
engage and educate students, but it’s not always practical for educators to install a heavy technology platform on a tight timetable and a tight budget. GSU needed a solution that could work flexibly with their resources and timeline.
Strategy & Solution
For GSU’s sales training needs, and the needs of many enterprise teams, they identified several solution requirements:
• Consistently deliver high quality sales training on a diverse and customizable range of topics
• Overcome distance-based training obstacles
• Ease time/workday alignment training challenges
• Provide students with timely and actionable mentor feedback on observed performance examples
• Create a fun competitive environment
• Progress tracking and reporting
• Maintain a small IT footprint
GSU used Rehearsal by ELB Learning to overcome training obstacles and deliver a superior training solution to a competitive sales team. They created a series of short scenarios, representing questions and circumstances students can expect to encounter in competition.
For example, they created several videos, spanning the entire sales cycle, including initial prospect engagement, needs identification, qualification, solution presentation, objection handling, and closing. They also created a range of videos covering everything from basic sales skills to advanced product knowledge.
GSU students could then view and respond to these video scenarios from any location, at any time. Students were able to watch instructional how-to videos and then use this knowledge to respond to a role-play scenario. There was a mix of role-play scenario challenges. In some cases, students had the ability to record multiple video attempts before submitting their response. This provided a great opportunity for self-evaluation and improvement. In other instances, Rehearsal’s Hotseat functionality was used to measure baseline performance and benchmark ongoing skill improvement.
Hotseat is a platform feature where a user has only one chance to respond to a video scenario, closely mimicking situations a sales person would see in their profession. After students submit response videos, the Rehearsal system notifies coaches and mentors.
These individuals then provide video feedback from virtually anywhere. They could also create new scenarios and instructional videos.
This asynchronous approach worked well for GSU. It helped overcome the time and distance challenges that stymied prior training efforts.
“While Rehearsal was in part an attempt to turn our access and training challenge into an opportunity, we found its benefits went far beyond that,” said Jones. “In our experience, it delivered a superior training environment as compared to conventional face-to-face role-play and training efforts we had used previously. Even if we had the ability to deliver conventional face-to-face coaching, Rehearsal delivers a clear winning advantage.”
Student Benefits - Students were able to review and respond to a wide range of scenarios at their convenience. They were able to get feedback far more frequently than with conventional face-to-face coaching.
Video role-play review and iterative learning allowed skills development to continue even when mentors were not present. This improved confidence and the ability of students to self-coach and correct their own performance issues, accelerating learning.
These factors helped their skill level and performance ramp faster than would have been possible otherwise. Students who spent time using Rehearsal performed better in subsequent competitions.
“We came into the competition on a tight timeline and with significant challenges. These required an innovative solution and Rehearsal delivered, making training fun, easy, and efficient for us with a direct, positive impact on our results,” said Jones.
The student competitor who spent the most time using Rehearsal performed the best in the competition.
Mentor/Coach Benefits - Convenient access to student video submissions allowed coaches and mentors to extensively review and compare responses. It provided a reference point to objectively assess performance and progress. The videos also provided a superior training resource as compared to coaching based on performance notes and memory. Using video submissions, students could see the exact elements in their performance (or those of teammates) that made their delivery especially effective or ineffective.
Video captures nuances of the conversation and made it easy to provide meaningful coaching, as opposed to having students and mentors recall elements of a live role-play. It helped eliminate doubt and confusion by enabling accurate and actionable feedback.
It was easy to review video submissions and comment as appropriate. This was very helpful for students as mentors gave much clearer examples and it created a higher quantity and quality of feedback.
Rehearsal made it easy to deliver objective feedback and compare results across competitors. Much like a locker room review of game films, the platform made it easy to display specific behaviors and best practices and recognize effective performance. The best performances provided a great example for other students. This type of collective learning is a very effective multiplier for GSU’s sales education and training efforts.
Mentors and coaches also benefitted from time savings, more effectively serving and providing feedback to multiple students in parallel. It also provided performance examples that were easy to share and objectively review. The ability to create targeted role-play scenarios around specific, critical performance behaviors saved time and produced faster, more targeted results as compared to trying to coach based on customer call recordings.
Sales Representative Benefits - The system’s ability to deliver targeted role-play examples and standardized training videos was also very useful. Sales training needs to serve the needs of teams comprised of individuals of varying skill levels.
This can create special challenges for sales coaches trying to effectively train a broad mix of new hires, struggling reps, special teams, and sales champions. It’s difficult for managers to deliver complete and consistent training over time and few things are worse than seeing a promising sales hire walk out the door because you couldn’t give them the skills development needed to ensure success. With the cost of a new sales hire often exceeding two years of their associated sales quota, this is simply too high a risk to take.
The investment in a superior training solution is worthwhile as it enables reps to ramp faster and ensure training return on investment. In a similar way, Rehearsal helped GSU overcome training quality control challenges by enabling them to deliver consistent product and sales skills development to each student.
Students and mentors were pleased with Rehearsal as it was practical to engage in a meaningful dialogue, without the complications of time and distance. Students and mentors were also able to use the system to train at their convenience. This made it easy for them to incorporate training while still meeting other personal and professional commitments. The platform also produced superior results as compared to what GSU would have achieved with conventional training methods.
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