Skilljar Customer Education Coffee Chat with Auctane

Skilljar Coffee Chats showcase different ways customers are using our platform, including demos with special guests. This month’s Customer Education Coffee Chat, hosted by Cutler Bleecker, Skilljar’s Customer Training Manager, featured a conversation with Emily Escalante, Instructional Designer and Trainer at Auctane.

Auctane’s suite of e-commerce management software solutions power billions of shipments every year. They enable small, medium and enterprise businesses to manage complex logistic channels with ease, optimizing their time, energy, and resources. Emily’s team all share a goal of making sure their learners are confident, starting with the sales reps who are in charge of onboarding customers.

Auctane’s Sales leadership wanted to see for themselves that their sales reps could confidently onboard customers. Emily wanted to meet this challenge beyond role-play activities, which would soon become repetitive for so many reps to repeat. So they devised a unique strategy using Skilljar’s Quizzes feature to enable individual video submissions of a typical onboarding scenario, in which trainers could see sales reps actually working through a workflow or a problem to help a customer.

The workflows we’ve developed using Skilljar Quizzes have made our sales reps more confident in onboarding customers. I’m super proud of what my team has worked on and what we’ve produced.— Emily Escalante

So grab your coffee and read the recap of how Auctane used Skilljar to test the effectiveness of sales workflows in onboarding customers using real-world scenarios.

Creating real-world training scenarios

Auctane's workflow for creating training scenarios

Emily and her team’s goal was to improve the process of how sales reps apply their skills and product knowledge during an onboarding call. It was important to Emily that sales reps feel confident when working with customers, since many times, they’re the first point of contact for new product users. (Emily noted that while their process was designed for internal training, it works for external training as well.)

They created a way to test the retention of various customer workflows using real-world scenarios that would serve as practice for their sales reps. The scenarios were created using Skilljar quizzes and the screen recording application, Zight.

After sales reps complete a course on how to talk to a customer, they are presented with a quiz, or practice exercise, to test their application of the knowledge as it would happen in a real-world setting. They submit a recording of the test session through the Skilljar Quizzes feature, which is then graded by Sales Leadership and trainers through a rubric that Emily’s team developed. (See below section on Grading training scenarios.)

Getting started with real-world training scenarios

Auctane's pre-work and planning for developing real-world training scenarios for sales reps

Emily advises doing your “pre-work” before developing training scenarios for your learners.

1. Break down your measurables.
Know what data you will be able to pull to gauge success. Emily’s team devised surveys that would serve as “temperature checks” to ensure their sales reps were comfortable with the process and getting something out of it.
2. Identify the sales strategies you want to test and how to tie them to real-world activities.
The sales leadership trainers pulled actual examples from accounts to develop real problems that their reps might face for training purposes.
3. Research screen recording apps.
Emily and her team chose Zight because they found it easy to copy a link from the screen recording to submit for review. They also found Snagit and Loom to be good options to consider.
4. Identify the roadblocks.
Because the process was so new, they knew they might run into challenges such as using the screen recorder with Windows vs. Mac systems, and fine-tuning the process of grading. You may also have roadblocks from internal stakeholders who are resistant to change, so all of these possibilities need to be solved from the outset. Emily found that by gaining buy-in from managers and making it a required activity for reps set the precedent for their team, without it having to come directly from the education department.

They also set up trial accounts to help people get used to the system and enter any questions or problems they had into a designated Slack channel.

Defining the training scenario

We want to see that our reps can confidently onboard customers.— Auctane Sales Leadership

Here is a scenario Emily demonstrated for training on their product, ShipStation.

Auctane workflow practice for training sales reps on customer situations

Sales reps are directed to screen record their demos with audio and use the Zight link to transmit their scenario.

 

Every testing scenario entails the following elements:

  • A backstory (background on the situation, aka, the “scenario”)
  • A task (what the problem or need to be solved or performed is)
  • Who the customer is (defining their role)
  • Reminders (hints for how to answer questions or address concerns by directing them to a specific workflow)

Each scenario appears as a quiz question with a free-form response box through Skilljar. Sales reps submit their recorded links and responses through the Quizzes feature so graders can manually grade them and apply feedback. Every scenario follows the same template for grading.

Grading training scenarios

Auctane's system for grading training scenarios for sales reps

Emily’s team knew a key part of the process would be figuring out how to grade the scenario submissions fairly and accurately.

They tackled this by answering some basic questions:

1. Who is going to grade the submissions? Their internal managers and trainers made up a team of 4-6 graders.
2. How are they going to grade the submissions? Emily’s team set up their scenarios as a pass/fail assessment. Sales reps either hit the marks, or they don’t. If they don’t, they receive feedback on how to improve and then can practice or retest.

Emily’s team set up a rubric (or checklist) for graders to use to keep grading streamlined. It provides instructions for grading, including diagrams of how to access and view the video link from Skilljar, and then grade learners and supply their feedback. (Download Emily’s rubric here.)

Excerpt from Auctane's rubric for trainers to follow when they grade sales reps on customer training scenarios

Excerpt from Emily’s rubric for trainers to follow when they grade sales reps on customer training scenarios

Making sure that graders had enough information and clear guidelines on what they needed to do really helped them want to participate. With everything they needed to consider right in front of them, it made their job easier and made them more willing to do it.— Emily Escalante

Sections of the rubric include quiz descriptions and scenarios broken down into step-by-step pieces. With a pass/fail grading system, a good rubric essentially starts with defining what absolute success looks like and what abject failure looks like. Then, identify all of the outcomes in between to realize how learners fare in relation to these extremes.

One important key for poorer performers is to always build in suggestions for how to improve on any tasks they fail, which boosts their confidence as salespeople.

We wanted our graders to feel completely confident in answering and grading scenario submissions. Having as much information as possible for them to view was essential for them as they listened and followed along scenarios.— Emily Escalante

Using feedback and results to improve the process

Auctane surveyed sales resp on training scenarios to gather feedback they could improve on.

Feedback mechanisms from learners were built into the process, so if they got a negative response to the scenario test, this was an opportunity to make revisions.

They were able to pinpoint shortfalls such as:

  • The amount of questions and time it took to complete scenarios
    They scaled back the activities by identifying priority tasks reps need to understand as well as sub-tasks or activities that could be created in the future. They also made sure that everyone had clear expectations for recording and built timing expectations into the process.
  • Too many possible answers
    They either needed to change the scenario or give more hints to push learners toward one answer.
  • Clear instructions for trial accounts and screen recordings (for both Windows and Mac)
    They asked learners how easy the activities were to navigate and worked directly with those who had difficulty to address their concerns. One piece of feedback they received from their graders was that they needed to put a time limit on the recordings to reduce how long they would have to spend reviewing. In response, they put a time limit on video creation to five minutes.

Signals of success!

Auctane gathered positive feedback from sales reps on training scenarios.

To gauge success of the scenario training, Emily’s team asked two questions in the survey following testing:

1. How well did these practice activities help you with your understanding of software workflows?
The majority of learners said that it was “extremely helpful”.
2. How prepared do you feel to demo the software for your customers during a sales call?
The majority of learners said “ very prepared.” One Sales Rep responded, “Knowing that I’ve already walked through the process, I gained confidence showing our customers pieces of the product that can improve their operations.”

As a designer, I want my learners to feel confident when they are working with our customers. Using our training scenarios,  even if they are new or have never seen our software, they can feel confident walking a customer through a first-time conversation. This makes me extremely happy and proud of what we’ve produced.— Emily Escalante

See more resources from Skilljar on how to prepare internal teams for training and onboarding customers:

4 Steps to Create a Customer Onboarding Program
IPRO Integrates a Learning Center Into Onboarding Process and Increases User Engagement by 78%
Build, Promote, Measure: How to Gain Visibility for Your Customer Education Program