You Can't Teach a Kid How to Ride a Bike On a Computer Screen
Updated: Nov 30
Some may disagree with that statement and we understand why. An online video can definitely provide a great tutorial of the fundamentals. The kid could easily learn the inner workings of the bicycle and how to move the pedals, brake, get on the bike, and disembark.
In theory yes, this all “works”. However, as we’ve hi-lighted before, with the wise words of Yogi Berra, “In theory there’s no difference between practice and theory. In practice there is”.
So although the kid could understand the basics watching an online video, the video itself will never replace the feeling that the kid has once they actually get on the bike.
A video can’t substitute the balance one has (or doesn’t have) on a bike.
Or the feeling of fear and sheer glee as the kid pulls away, free from the hand of the parent guiding their seat along the road.
A video can’t offer the same real world experience for the driving conditions whether that be a bumpy country dirt road or the smooth asphalt surrounding the neighbourhood subdivision. Or in other cases the pothole that needs be averted midway down the street or the traffic that is coming up the city block.
It also can’t prepare the kid for what happens when the skies open up and it beings to rain. What happens to the tires when they go from dry to wet, or in various degrees of weather, from hot to cold.
How does a video equip the kid with the skills needed to stabilize themselves if the wind suddenly picks up and they’re being pushed by gusts from one side?
Video content is everywhere. We’ve entered this age of online learning, earlier than most experts expected, and as the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation, the world adapted. According to Global Insights, more than 500 hours of new content is uploaded to Youtube every minute. That translates into 720,000 hours of new content per day (just on Youtube!). 1 Billion hours of content is watched across the world every day and the #1 topic people are searching for are tutorials or “how to videos”.
So in the world of Sales, why is it that when we talk to reps about a concept, they’ve heard about it, but aren’t actually using it?
The content is out there for them view. Every day our feeds are bombarded with new life coaches and business gurus, telling us they have the secret to life, can turn us into a millionaire, or better yet are an expert in our own field and have the keys to make us more successful at our jobs.
If content is “king” then why are we still struggling? Why haven’t all of us hit very single metric and KPI ten fold?
The answer to that question is this: if information could change human behaviour we’d all be exactly where we want to be, whether that’s retired at 25, debt free, 40lbs lighter, living in our dream house, and the list could go on and on and on.
The reality is, that despite this shift to video tutorials and online learning—no matter the topic—people are not seeing an increase in application and accountability.
In our world of Sales Enablement, video learning is attractive for certain aspects of the job. It’s less time out of the field for reps. It can be on demand, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for new hires or when reps need refreshers, and in this new virtual workplace it’s a quick and easy way to get messages across.
Video learning can be a helpful tool. We just shouldn’t solely rely on it.
On the other side of this people may argue that traditional Instructor Led Training is archaic and not effective.
If you find that your ILTs are boring and your reps are un-engaged, we challenge you to reevaluate the content, the delivery format, and the trainer. You need to shift those elements towards the needs of the participants and in traditional ILTs it’s been the other way around.
Sales is often a default career that is stepped into because of life circumstances. We are not saying this is always the case and if you’ve dreamed of being a sales rep since you were in grade school, all the power to you!
But in our experience, most of us got into sales because we had no other choice. We needed the money. We didn’t finish high school or college. We didn’t have any idea what we actually wanted to do with our lives. So we chose the only option available to us—sales.
With that in mind, let’s look at what traditional ILTs have in common—academia. The content is written to push the message from the top down without consideration for the people actually attending the session. The training programs become too complex for reps to see how they can actually apply it in the real world.
Complexity is the enemy of execution.
In this new world of virtual learning, complexity can cast a shadow over your entire program and when you’re focused solely on the fundamentals, you miss out on the situational context, inevitably setting your team up for failure.
So what is the solution?
The ideal solution is a blended approach. You need to have a balance of in-person and virtual learning opportunities (that can include pre-recorded videos, but does not rely on it).
Let’s do a quick overview of what a good blended approach looks like:
1. Pre-Recorded Video Learning (i.e. Online Courses)
Product Knowledge Training
Coach Back Support
NOT soft skills!
2. Virtual Instructor Led Training (VILT)
Provides the soft skill content to commence behaviour change.
Allows a GOOD facilitator to put content into situational context and to gage when and where people are learning.
Can be very cost effective
3. Instructor Led Training (ILT)
Allows for one of the most important aspects of growth, which is peer learning.
Having all reps in a room and hearing other rep’s questions, makes each individual feel that they are not alone, allowing them to share experiences freely in an environment of peer coaching and peer feedback.
Allows a good trainer the space to shift the content and direction of the training based on the questions that are being asked and the comments from participants.
Provides the best scenario for a real life situation with interactive business simulations.
*Some will argue that this can all be done with VILT, however the reality we’ve learned over the past two years is that it can’t. Yes, we are all in a virtual room together, but it is much more difficult to have peer learning and coaching because of:
-the restrictiveness of the virtual platform
-people uncomfortable having their cameras on
-the multitude of distractions (Deliveries, Pets, Kids, etc).
So here’s what PONO Learning recommends to our clients:
One Size Fits One
There is not one cookie cutter blended learning strategy that works for everyone.
You need to understand your reps strengths and weaknesses to be able to design your training and the delivery format so that it is the most effective possible.
Ensure your VILT and ILT are as effective as possible
Find a trainer that understands that it’s not all about them.
Make sure your content is not written in “academia”. The more complex it is, the less the reps are going to understand it and apply it.
So let’s go back to the bike analogy.
How did you learn how to ride a bike? What did you do the first time you fell off? The second?
We are confident that the majority of you, like us, learned by doing. Learned by feeling. Learned by watching others.
The same applies to Sales Training. We have yet to see a pre-recorded video training that can teach sales reps soft skills with the same impact that an in-person or even virtual training can do. The content is not important. What’s important is WHAT the reps actually understand and how they implement it. This can’t solely be done with an online course because you have no context or video / audio cues as to how the rep is absorbing the training.
When you are ready to reevaluate your training strategy and understand how to apply this methodology into your own learning path, reach out to us.