Five Trends in Training and Development for 2018

Jeff Cochran


Every year organizations evaluate their goals for the future and plan staff training aimed at achieving those objectives.  As technology is evolving at a lightning fast pace, it’s more important than ever to provide employees with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to stay ahead of the curve.

As a global provider of sales and negotiation training, Shapiro Negotiations provides the tools that can give your business a competitive advantage. Below are five key trends in training we believe will have a strong impact in 2018. Contact SNI today to find out more on how we can help your business increase its revenue.

Virtual Reality

Companies are already using virtual reality (VR) as an integral component of employee training. Hospitals, athletic facilities, and even fast food restaurants currently use VR to recruit and train staff. Kentucky Fried Chicken uses VR to teach cooks how to fry chicken without having to heat up an actual fryer. UPS uses augmented reality headsets to navigate road hazards. Walmart says all of its training facilities will soon use headsets to practice customer interactions. Sales teams and negotiators can also use virtual reality in anticipation of tense situations to practice dealing with objections.


It’s hard to set aside a whole week, or even a whole day, to attend a conference or workshop. Micro-learning breaks down training into bite-sized pieces users can access at intervals throughout the week, using short breaks and transition periods as productive learning time.

Emphasizing Quality Over Quantity

While it’s possible to learn more when it’s broken down into manageable chunks, the focus should be on providing employees with useful, helpful information. If staff feel like they aren’t receiving training that can help them meet their goals, work more efficiently or earn more money, they aren’t likely to put training into practice.

Social Learning

If you want your group to function as a team, some of their training should allow them to practice doing just that. When people interact with others during training, they are more engaged and retain more of what they’ve learned. Online learning is beginning to incorporate the ability to chat, share notes, and collaborate remotely to complete projects.

Improved Tracking

In the past, when employees attended training, it was difficult to tell if it was worth the investment of company time and money. Now strategic learning platforms provide employers with feedback that indicate how employees responded to each segment of training. Quizzes signal what concepts need follow-up, and surveys allow employees to express how they felt about the training and what they would like to see in the future.

How E-Learning Benefits Your Staff and Boosts Sales

Jeff Cochran


E-learning provides flexible accessibility, boosts engagement, and promotes retention for all employees. Millennials especially prefer online training to other methods. Since millennials make up more than 36 percent of the current U.S. workforce, employers should consider their preferences when choosing training solutions.

By 2020, 46 percent of employees will have been born between 1976 and 2001. While e-learning is preferred by a large percentage of the workforce, personal preference isn’t the only reason employers benefit from choosing it. Offering training online allows collaboration between locations, saves businesses money, and develops future training goals.

E-Learning Cuts Costs

When organizations offer in-person training, their costs don’t relate only to the presenter. Often, they must also pay for facilities, transportation, print materials, and food for attendees. Online learning provides access to high-quality training wherever employees are located without requiring them to travel to a central location.

Employers save money on printing by providing training materials in an electronic format. Employees access training at work or at home, so there’s no need to rent additional facilities.

E-Learning Meets Professional Growth Objectives

A recent Gallup poll says 87 percent of millennials say development is important in a job. They report seeking employment with companies that help them learn and grow, and they are more likely to stay with employers who offer opportunities for improvement.

Online training lets employers offer ways to learn new processes and add new skills. Employers can use it to improve performance, productivity, and job satisfaction.

E-Learning Is Responsive

The best e-learning appeals to millennials because it meets their expectations for quality. Though some in-class learning is amazing, the spectrum for quality is very broad and involves lots of environmental waste. E-learning replaces paper and wasted electricity with a much more responsive environment.

Training through a good e-learning provider works seamlessly on all devices. Whether participants access materials through a laptop, desktop, or mobile device, they find interactive training.

Instead of listening to a presenter lecture, they have control over their training. They choose the order and speed in which they interact with training modules. They can explore additional information when they have questions or interact with other participants.

E-Learning Provides Analytics

When employees attend a training seminar, employers know who showed up and what material was presented, but it’s hard to gauge the training’s actual impact. E-learning lets employers see how many people accessed training and what modules they interacted with most.

When employees engaged with some areas more than others, it suggests a need for additional content or an area for further development. If employees struggled with certain quizzes, that shows where to provide additional training.

Shapiro Negotiations Institute understands how essential it is to provide differentiated learning environments in today’s global environment. We offer modular on-demand training and live webinars to provide customized e-learning for your business. Contact us today to find out more.


Is Virtual Reality the Future of Sales Training?

Jeff Cochran


Virtual reality is finally reaching its heyday, thanks to increased affordability and big names like Facebook and Google embracing the trend. VR headset makers promise the technology will revolutionize the way we work and play. But do the same applications relate to sales training? Here are some of the benefits virtual reality brings to sales training along with potential pitfalls to avoid.

VR Offers Cost-Effective Education Solutions

Imagine a classroom where education can be presented to learners one-on-one, and everyone is learning at the same time. Sounds like a solution across education spectrums: Learning for elementary students becomes more fun and engaging, military and law enforcement can train for dangerous situations without being put at risk, and college students get more clear direction from the get-go.

Virtual reality training benefits businesses as well. Managers often struggle to find time to train their sales teams. With VR, the manager can create one virtual training session distributed to each person on the team to be viewed when they’re ready. Training feels like it’s face-to-face, so it’s more effective and saves costs. Sales trainings can take place more often, providing greater regularity and more consistent results.

Virtual reality allows sales teams to be immersed in environments they might not otherwise experience, but that they will eventually need to understand. Train salespeople in the features of heavy machinery without having to leave the office. Practice demonstrating a product or conducting negotiations with virtual clients before it happens in the real world.

VR Promotes Retention

Any time you learn something new, the brain retains more as exposure increases. Provide your sales team with virtual reality training and encourage them to return to it more than once.

Virtual reality allows sales people to practice what they’ve learned. When trainees go through sales simulations, they find holes in their knowledge and work through their nerves to develop confidence. Team members can practice presentations in a low-stress environment before they face the real one.

Virtual Reality Helps Sell Products

VR is compelling, even when the subject matter you are trying to explain feels dry. Consider the medical industry: If you place the viewer in a virtual environment where they can experience a stent implant, suddenly, they can wrap their brains around the process in ways much more multidimensional than through language alone.

Virtual reality gives salespeople a tool to engage the prospect and offer the chance to try before asking for a purchase.

Limitations of Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality can be great for training, but it does have some limitations. There’s no human interaction, which can lead to communication problems. In a real training, you can ask questions. The person in charge of training can see if someone looks confused.

VR can be a cost-effective tool for your trainings, just ensure there’s a backup plan for those who fall behind.

Building Strong Remote Leadership

Jeff Cochran


Many businesses are offering flexible work arrangements or completely remote capabilities. With this, a need arises for different recruiting, training, and leadership skills. Remote leaders are responsible for creating a common vision everyone can follow, allowing for team cohesion even at a distance. From providing remote negotiations training to conducting company-wide sales training, remote leaders inspire unity when adhering to four specific rules.

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Set Clear Expectations 

As opposed to working in a physical location, remote employees are scattered throughout the country (and perhaps the globe). To keep everyone on the same page, remote leaders must establish a set of clear expectations. While performing individual tasks is the responsibility of the employee, leaders are expected to clearly outline the following:

  • Work hours. When a team works remotely, it’s important to get everyone on the same page regarding expected work hours. If employee improvement, such as negotiations training, must take place, clearly specify when trainings are held.
  • Regular meetings are essential to keep communication flowing. Establish expectations for company meetings, including when they will take place, the protocol for missing a meeting, and recurring topics to be discussed.
  • Leading from afar requires confidence in a team member’s ability to work independently while meeting productivity goals. Remote leaders are responsible for setting clear guidelines outlining expectations.

Don’t Hide Behind the Screen

Being available to remote employees is one of the best ways to keep workers engaged, motivated, and informed. When leading a team of remote employees, don’t hinder your availability by hiding behind the computer screen. Particularly when conducting sales training, leaders need to be accessible to workers to address questions and concerns. If time constraints are a concern, establish set hours of availability during which employees can contact you and receive a prompt response.

Leverage Technology to Facilitate Training

Most companies operating a remote workforce lack the option to conduct business free of technology. Between collaborative online tools, productivity tracking programs, and digital communication, technology is the conduit that facilitates ongoing dialogue, training, and employee improvement. Use digital solutions that bring remote employees together and increase access to members of your leadership team.

Extend Trust and Confidence to Employees

All employees benefit when leaders extend trust and confidence in their abilities. When managing remote teams, it’s important to clearly communicate this level of trust. Provide remote employees with confidence-boosting compliments, but don’t stretch the truth. Focus on an employee’s strengths and how those strengths contribute to the company’s goals, and offer positive feedback on recent projects. Communicating your belief in an employee’s abilities will inspire them to work harder to reach established goals.

Excerpt 3: Benefits of Role-Play in Corporate Trainings

Jeff Cochran


Last Week Training Magazine posted an article written by SNI’s John Buelow. Read below for a brief excerpt and find the full article here:


Benefits of Role-Play

Here are just a few of the benefits of making role-play a part of your business training:

1. Build confidence: When your team role-plays, you can throw any number of situations at them. Role-playing provides a safe environment to encounter these scenarios for the first time, which builds confidence in team members that can help them in their day-to-day roles.

2. Develop listening skills: Good role-playing requires good listening skills. In addition to understanding the words the other person is saying, it’s important to pay attention to body language and non-verbal clues. Better to have your team develop these skills while role-playing than when they’re trying to perform in the real world.

3. Creative problem-solving: No matter how outlandish a situation you create in a controlled environment, generally, something even more bizarre is bound to happen on the job. Role-playing will at least give your team the chance to get some experience in handling difficult situations and in developing creative problem-solving skills.

Are Virtual Environments the Future of Leadership Training?

Jeff Cochran


Businesses are searching for a more effective way to conduct leadership training using virtual environments. Learning in virtual environments has many benefits, as training sessions can be led completely online and a wide range of simulations can be created for more effective lessons. Read on to learn more about how virtual environments are being used in leadership training, why companies and organizations are benefiting from this new movement, and how you can implement these strategies at your organization.

 Effective Leadership Training & Virtual Environments

A recent study conducted by ON24 and Training Industry, Inc. uncovers the importance of effective leadership training for organizations and discusses how virtual environments allow them to create more effective, efficient leadership training. Overall, leadership training is an estimated $2 billion industry in the U.S., which means maximizing ROI in this area is critical. While the organizations in the study were investing about $684 in leadership training per employee, the largest obstacle to the effectiveness of that training was sustaining its impact over time.

However, for organizations that use virtual environments for leadership training, those undergoing the training rated it as more effective. Furthermore, the study found that effective companies invest 44% more in leadership training than ineffective companies. This study shows that effective leadership training is important for business success, and using virtual environments leads to more effective training.

How Virtual Environments Are Being Used

When virtual environments are used for leadership training, this training is most commonly conducted through simulations. In the military, simulation-based training is used to both practice and develop the skills that soldiers need to succeed. There are many advantages to using such simulations in leadership training. Simulation-based training is beneficial because it can be completely customized to meet the needs of the trainee. Furthermore, research shows that it is helpful for those undergoing such training to watch themselves perform tasks in the virtual environment, as this allows for greater reflection on the process.

Building Virtual Teamwork

When it comes to virtual leadership training, the most important element is building virtual teamwork. However, there are a few challenges faced by virtual teams that are important to keep in mind when implementing these strategies at your organization.

  • Communication: While virtual communication can be difficult, there are a number of tools that your organization can utilize to alleviate this challenge. The key is to ensure that you are using the right tools for each individual situation.
  • Trust: Building trust can also be a major challenge in building virtual teamwork, particularly when team members come from different cultures. It is important to ensure that the manager in the situation invests in relationships with the virtual team and is prepared to work with individuals from diverse backgrounds.
  • Management: Finally, managing virtually can also be a significant challenge. Fortunately, studies have shown that employees who work from home actually work harder, which means that less management is necessary.

Top 3 Sales Training Trends

Jeff Cochran


As an authoritative training and consulting firm it’s our business to be up on trends that directly influence our clients. Because we travel all over the world to provide training, our perspective on where things are going as we head into 2014 is rather unique. Here are the three most important sales training trends to keep an eye on.

Trend #1: In-depth Ideal Customer Models

Welcome to the era of big data. Sales trainers today can show their trainees how to get digital mountains of information on ideal clients and customers that simply wasn’t there 3 years ago. This emerging ability of sales forces to learn about their customers and deliver product/service information in new and creative ways is fueling a more inbound sales model.

  • Capturing leads and new accounts these days has less to do with outbound techniques, and more to do with using the power of information to draw ideal clients into sales funnels.
  • Vast tracking data makes it easier to pin-point customer needs. This in turn allows companies to see drastic improvements in upsell and cross-selling numbers.
  • Teams can use this customer information to approach them for more than one angle at a time.

Trend #2: Social Media Integration

Social networking platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and especially LinkedIn are making their way into sales training as a matter of course. Where does social media begin and the sales funnel begin? Internally and externally social media is playing a bigger and bigger role in modern consumerism.

  • Social media connects sales representatives with each other, with management, with all the varying departments within the organization and with customers.
  • Externally social media is a battlegrounds where brand expansion takes place. Sales training increasingly teaches business leaders and sales people how to leverage thse networks.
  • Social media is an incredible resource for customer insight and analytics. In the right hands this information translates into higher performance and a more effective sales team.

Trend #3: Efficiency Focused & Bottom Lines

Speaking of effectiveness. That’s the name of the game across the board. This is an age of ultimate efficiency from the way we run our businesses and fuel our cars, to how we heat our homes and expand a bottom line. Nearly every conventional sales training technique has been sliced and diced to suit a fast-paced hypercompetitive marketplace.

  • According to a CSO Insights Trend Report that came out in 2012, revenue is the absolute #1 concern moving into 2014 on the minds of sales executives.
  • Effectiveness used to mean the sheer amount of customers who could be reached through traditional methods. Now, it’s about the quality (efficiency) of these connections. It’s about conversion rates. Rather than 10,000 worthless leads, what matters are the higher converting 5-10%.
  • To grow revenue, modern organizations and enterprise are investing vast sums of capital into training. So far the broad market ROI speaks for itself. There’s no question that quality training leads to unprecedented performance for most outdated sales models.

Complimentary Webinar Invitation

Jeff Cochran



training magazine free webinar series

Give The Sales Team What They Need…When They Need It

Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern

SNI, in conjunction with Brainshark, Training Magazine, and Sales and Marketing Management will be conducting a complimentary webinar: “Giving The Sales Team What They Need…When They Need It!”

To make training stick and actually drive results, it must be practical, customized, and accessible when needed. How can you leverage on-demand training and tools to improve your sales team’s ability to execute?

Join as our EVP of Design and Production, John Buelow, and Brainshark’s VP of Sales Enablement, Marc McNamara, present examples of training content that it can be easily created, consumed, and tracked. They will share:

  • A systematic approach to sales and negotiation that increase accountability and drives results
  • Tips and tricks for delivering training content to boost engagement
  • How to measure and track results

To register for our webinar, please go to:

Optimizing Your Corporate Training Program

Jeff Cochran


High turnover and worker attrition rates in the recent economy have left many businesses short of staff or working with a bunch of new hires who lack a grasp on the business. In addition to this, the last several years have produced some significant changes in the philosophy of worker training. Applying these new tips and techniques for training your workforce can get your business working more smoothly and make your employees more confident that they understand their roles.


Cross-Training Isn’t Just For Fitness

In order to deal with the high turnover rates of recent years, many businesses have on-boarded a group of less experienced employees to fill those roles. What may make more sense for many companies, however, is to cross-train existing employees. Many individuals already on your team can handle more responsibility, and more time on the job will have given them a clearer sense of how those responsibilities fit into the larger corporate scheme. A group of cross-trained senior employees will outperform a group of new employees tasked with a single role.


Training Is A Game

Gamification is one of the new tricks in employee training that has come about in the last few years. Turn training into a large-scale game, with tasks and quests that your employees must complete. This element of fun helps to keep employees engaged and motivated to participate in training activities. In this respect, training employees can be like working with children – learning needs to be fun for workers to engage enthusiastically, which is why turning training into a game is so effective.


Embrace Technology

More and more training can be done on an individual basis using technology, rather than in group settings. Employees today are increasingly comfortable using technology in all parts of their lives, and work training should be no exception. eLearning and other digital formats may hold the attention of workers who spend much of their time using technology.


Understand Their Goals

There is a large psychological element to training techniques today. If you better understand the goals of your employees, you will be able to motivate them more effectively. Helping your employees to pursue their own goals gives them an incentive to engage fully with the training process. Other psychological tools utilized in best training practices in recent years include providing positive reinforcement and embracing different learning styles. If you provide employees with training materials best suited to their learning style, they are more likely to retain the information.

Training Expenditures are Decreasing

Jeff Cochran


Training Magazine has just released their annual “Salary Survey,” and the figures are a little disheartening for the training industry. According to the report, “Total 2012 U.S. training expenditures – including payroll and spending on external products and services – fell 6.5 percent to $55.8 billion.” The report also mentions that 65% of organizations either decreased their training budget or kept 2011’s budget.

While the current trend is going against training, many business owners are coming to realize the impressive ROI of professional training services. If you are one of the companies in that 65%, consider these affordable options:


“Learning Teams”

Donna Flagg, writing for the Huffington Post, advises that employers encourage “Learning Teams” in the workplace. A “Learning Team” can take on the form of a business book club or an arranged weekly lunch. Essentially, diverse groups of employees in your organization get together to discuss an idea or share experiences. This is a great way to supplement your current training curriculum.

We believe that this strategy works best in a mature organization that employs leaders who are willing to take charge in discussion. Otherwise, these “Learning Teams” can turn out to be nothing but wasted man-hours. If you choose to start “Learning Teams” within your organization, encourage younger employees to share new strategies with top leadership, in addition to having top leadership share about their experiences.


Formal Mentoring Opportunities

Mary K. Pratt, a Verizon employee writing for Computer World, suggests that employers set up in-house mentoring programs. Pratt cites an example in which a Prudential executive selected 10 of her best leaders and 10 of her best new employees, and paired them together for nine months. The process was entirely voluntary (a huge factor in its success), and took place off-site, outside of office hours. The mentored employees were encouraged to share their goals and objectives, while senior leadership provided guidance and made suggestions.

This is a great way for the senior leadership on your team to share formal training experience with newer, younger members.


Online Training & Blended Solutions

Even if your budget is down, that doesn’t mean you can’t afford professional training. Many companies (SNI included) offer blended training solutions with strong online components. If you want your employees to have the best training experience possible, without breaking the bank, consider exploring one of these blended training options.

Training your employees doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. All it takes is a little bit of creativity and strategy!

Have training ideas of your own? Share them in the comments section below.