How Much Does Custom Training Cost? It Depends!

So, you’ve decided off-the-shelf training no longer meets your company’s needs. Maybe you need to teach your employees about a complex system or product, or maybe you have specific customer service behaviors you need to demonstrate. Or, maybe it’s time for your training to match your company culture. In each of these examples, custom training solutions are definitely the right move. So, how much does custom training cost?

Well, it depends!

Something that’s custom-built for you rarely comes with a standard price tag. It all depends on what you want and need.

It’s a bit like remodeling a kitchen.

Let’s say you want new floors, appliances, cabinets, and countertops. When you ask the contractor for an estimate, two things probably happen next:

  • The contractor doesn’t give you an exact figure right away.
  • Instead, he or she asks you a few more questions.

While this might slow you down in the short-term, it’s a sign the contractor cares about your vision. After all, there are countless options for customization. Do you want tile floors? Linoleum? Do you need top-of-the-line appliances? What type of wood do you want for the cabinets? Are you interested in granite counter tops?

When you talk with a custom training partner, it’s no different, and if you can bring some key specs to the table, the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Use the framework outlined below to break down your vision and get an accurate custom training estimate.

IDENTIFY SPECIFICS

To get a better idea of how much your custom training project may cost, start thinking about the specifics. A custom training partner will ask you questions like this:

  1. How many topics do you need to cover? Will you focus on just a few topics, or do you need to create an entirely new program?
  2. Are you teaching knowledge, skills, or behaviors? If you’re teaching knowledge, a self-paced format could be the right approach. If you want learners to build new skills, they need a way to practice and get feedback. If you’re changing behaviors, your strategy will need a leadership component.
  3. How complex is the subject matter? Some custom training projects require more up-front analysis than others. Do you need a quick, fun hype video to encourage participation, or do you need to train employees on a highly complex product or system?
  4. What’s the right level of fidelity? Not all videos can be shot on an iPhone or a GoPro. Sometimes you need a full production crew, equipment rentals, and professional actors. Think about the ROI you’re after, and invest your dollars in your most high-impact content. The right training partner can produce a polished, exciting video that has that wow factor.
  5. How evergreen will the training be? Is this project “one and done,” or will it require ongoing maintenance? And, who do you want to be responsible for the maintenance–your internal training team or your training partner?
  6. What interactivity will you include? Should your content be highly interactive and immersive–with simulations, games, or even virtual reality? The more interactive the content, the more you’ll want to budget.

Consider Different Modalities

A major driver of cost is the modality–or training format–you’re interested in. In most cases, the subject matter will determine the best modality.

Make sure your training partner has a reputation for making helpful, strategic recommendations about your options. Here are some thought-starters you can use to identify benefits and costs of different modalities:

FACILITATED training

  • What type of seat time do you envision? A few hours? Two days? Three weeks?
  • Will the training be facilitated in-person or virtually?
  • Will you need any videos to support your facilitated content?
  • Do you need any quiz or assessment content to confirm learning?
  • Will pre-work and/or refresher training be part of your strategy?

eLearning

  • Are you interested in using any live action video content or animation in your eLearning modules?
  • Does your LMS support the type of eLearning experience you want?

Animation

  • Are you planning any systems training that requires a screencast?
  • Do you prefer a simple animation style, or something higher-fidelity like 3D?

Live action video

  • Do you have a general sense of the video length you’re interested in?
  • Would you rather use professional actors or your own employees?
  • Do you need to shoot the video in a specific location?

Custom training is personalized, engaging, and it gets results. In the end, the up-front time you spend to find the right custom training partner and articulate your vision will pay off.

It’s just like any great home improvement project. You have countless options, but the right contractor can turn your dream into a reality–and help you budget along the way.

So, how much does custom training cost? It depends! Use our framework to identify some specifics, then work with your training partner to choose the best modality and put together an estimate.

Infographic: Is Your Sales Training Program Good, or Great?

Your organization has a sales training program, and it’s working, right? Your sales reps are learning to position your products and services and close enough deals to at least keep the lights on for another month.

And maybe, you schedule training two or three times per year, probably in conjunction with a regional sales meeting when everyone is together to compare notes.

While your sales training program might not be brand new, you’re patching holes with updated content to keep it as fresh as you can.

So it’s good, right? Or at least adequate?

Well, maybe. If your organization has a good sales training program and you’re stuck in chronic mediocrity, imagine the results of a great sales training program that empowers your sales team to knock it out of the park with every customer interaction.

How can you tell whether your sales training program is good or great? Let’s take a quiz.

Is your sales training program good or great?

1. What is your sales methodology?

At the heart of every good sales training program is a good sales methodology. And there are plenty to choose from: Challenger, SPIN, SNAP, Customer Centric, Sandler Selling, and Conceptual … the list goes on.

It’s good to have a sales methodology because it helps your organization identify certain key needs. It probably provides insight into how your organization qualifies buyers, positions products, and helps reps overcome objections.

But, while it’s good to adopt a sales methodology, they all have one thing in common: lots of other organizations ―including your direct competitors―are using the exact same methodology.

To differentiate your organization in a crowded marketplace, you have to customize, personalize, and make your sales methodology your own so you can woo customers with a uniquely compelling customer experience – resulting in more deals closed.

A great sales training program is built off a sales methodology that’s contextual and customized for your specific products and services. One that enables reps to ideally position the solutions you offer, helps develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that empower your reps to shine more brightly than competitors, and matches your culture.

We’re often asked, “Hey Unboxed, what’s your sales methodology?”

Well, we have frameworks to create custom sales methodologies for our clients, but whether we create one or start with your existing one, the answer is simple: our methodology is to take your methodology and contextualize it to transform your training from hu-hum to BAM!

sales training program - sales methodology

2. What does your sales training program teach your reps?

Reps require knowledge and skills to sell successfully. They need specific, detailed information to explain how your products solve a customer’s issues and add value. Reps must also know how to qualify customers, build relationships, upsell, gain referrals and repeat sales. If your training achieves all of that, then you have a good program.

In addition to teaching knowledge and skills, a great sales training program also focuses on developing consistent behaviors that reps must master to position your products and services at the top of the market, making them irresistible to customers.

So, how do you take a knowledge- and skills-based training program to the next level?

At Unboxed, we start by partnering with our clients to identify the behaviors that drive success, then build training around those behaviors. PowerPoints won’t do here. Reps need to experience what these behaviors look like in action. We use simulations, choose-your-own adventure, and adaptive learning models so reps make a choice and then get to see the impact of their decisions, even if they’re incorrect.

By changing behaviors, you change overall results. Great sales training materials improve selling behaviors for your entire bench, driving increased sales and higher customer satisfaction.

sales training program - training for reps

3. What does your sales training program offer sales leaders?

Great sales managers aren’t born―they’re trained. They’re the pillars reps look to for guidance on closing critical deals. And, contrary to popular belief, when a top rep is promoted to sales manager, savvy management skills don’t magically materialize.

A coaching model supports the knowledge, skills, and behaviors your sales management and leadership team require to guide reps to the next level. They’ll learn to build their bench, set goals, develop strategy, understand drivers and drainers, evaluate ROI―and coach their team in developing these skills. Teaching managers how to foster increased sales productivity and efficiency improves the overall vitality of your sales organization.

sales training program - training for leaders

4. How do you deliver your sales training program?

Modality of learning is key to making knowledge stick. In years past, that meant in-person training and stacks of binders. Today’s reps are more visually oriented, so videos and interactive technologies are a smarter way to engage them to maximize retention.

If you currently mix up the delivery of your training using PowerPoints, self-paced workbooks, and the occasional video, you have a good training delivery system.

But why not make it great?

Reps are busy. Lengthy training sessions lower their overall selling time. And don’t forget about the forgetting curve. But by using modern, on-demand modalities, reps can train anywhere, anytime. Delivering training in short, bite-sized chunks also makes it more digestible and easier to retain. (It’s called microlearning, and it’s great for sales training.)

Modern sales reps respond to modern training methods. They increase engagement and knowledge retention. So, while it’s good to have 25-minute videos and training every six months, it’s great to use more modern sales training techniques including eLearning (simulations, interactive learning guides, and high-fidelity training videos), social learning, and gamification that keep reps engaged.

sales training program - training delivery

Are you good, great, or in the middle?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, your organization likely has a good sales training program.

But what if parts of your program are good while other aspects are already great? In that case does your entire sales program need a complete overhaul, or does it just need a facelift to make it more modern and engaging?

Here’s the thing: transforming from good to great has tangible benefits for your sales team and sales leaders, but the overarching reason to revamp your sales training is to provide your customers with an extraordinary experience.

This begs one last question:

5. Does your sales training elevate the customer experience?

In our modern, crowded sales landscape, companies compete on the playing field of customer experience.

And while it’s good to deliver training that benefits your reps, it’s great if that training also elevates the customer experience.

When customers experience the wow-factor of customized, contextual product positioning from sales reps whose consistent behaviors focus on solving their individual challenges, it tips the balance in your organization’s favor.

sales training program - results

By transforming your sales training program from good to great, you increase rep engagement, enhance management and leadership skills, and amp-up your customer experience to previously unimagined heights. Who wouldn’t choose great?

Here’s the complete infographic.

sales training program - Infographic

Want to Move from Good to Great?

At Unboxed, we specialize in creating custom sales training programs that help organizations transform from good to great, from mediocre to phenomenal, from off the shelf or “boxed” to, well … Unboxed.

Ready to kick it up a notch? Reach out. We’d love to talk sales training with you.

These Time Management Hacks Will Help Your Team #Win

Every team I’ve ever worked with struggles with time management. While we attend meetings, answer emails, and respond to unexpected challenges, we yearn for professional development—the first to go in times of frenzied task-switching.

My team at Unboxed is no different. We want to produce high-quality results, deliver on-time and on-budget, and acquire new skills—so we have to find smart ways to manage our time and focus rather than multi-task. Here are five time management hacks that will help you and your team members meet deadlines and achieve your professional goals.

5-time-management-hacks

Hack #1: Plan your week

Time box: 30 minutes

My weekly planning process, inspired by Getting Things Done by David Allen, begins first-thing Monday when I get to my desk. It goes like this:

  • Review email using the 4D method: delete, do, delegate, defer. More about this in Hack #2.
  • Refresh Friday’s to-do list. Add any email items that need to be addressed today.
  • Prioritize professional development. Schedule time for continued learning. (And if that time is late Friday afternoon, it might not happen. Earlier in the week is often better.)
  • Update this week’s calendar. Add any personal appointments such as the doctor, dentist, kids’ functions, etc. Create space for focused work. Make sure there are no overlapping meetings, and if that can’t be done, start declining meetings based on priorities.
  • Email any out-of-office reminders. Communicate schedule changes with affected team members.

I used to plan for the upcoming week on Fridays. However, I found things often came up over the weekend that forced me to re-do the plan. Planning on Fridays also caused me unnecessary stress because I was thinking about next week’s work over the weekend, when I needed to be present for my family. Planning on Monday fixed those issues.

Hack #2: Review email with the 4D method

Time box: 10 minutes

I typically look at email three times a day—in the morning, after lunch, and close of business. The 4D method works like this:

  1. Delete when possible.
  2. Do what’s asked if it takes less than two minutes.
  3. Delegate if someone else should, or could, handle it.
  4. Defer the task to a better time if it takes longer than two minutes.

I disable email notifications so I can stay focused. My team knows if they really need me, they can call, text, or come get me.

time management hacks

Hack #3: Complete a daily debriefing

Time box: 15 minutes

Hack #3, a retrospective of the day, is important because it allows my brain to shut off on the evening. Here is the daily debriefing framework I use:

  • Log today’s accomplishments.
  • Identify any impediments, who can resolve them, and specifics that will help resolve them.
  • List things that need to be done tomorrow.
  • Review email.
  • Look for ways to improve. Ask:

What didn’t go as smoothly as it should have?
What can I do better tomorrow?

When we slow down and ask questions like, “Is there anything I can do that will improve mine and my team’s productivity going forward?” there’s a side-benefit: we foster company-wide process improvements.

For example, I was in a meeting last Friday, and I noticed another team member’s scheduling system was pretty time-intensive and cumbersome. I wanted to help, so I made a note of it during my daily debriefing. When I plan my next week (Hack #1), I’ll look for a free block of time we can use to collaborate on a better method—which will result in increased productivity for the company. Time management for the win!

After the daily debriefing, it’s time to turn off the work brain. Everything necessary for tomorrow has been written down, so there’s no need for it to consume any more brain space and energy today.

Hack #4: Unplug

Time box: Daily

It’s extremely important to come into work with a fresh set of eyes and a fresh brain. If you’ve had a chance to step away from your tasks, you’re less likely to get spun out, and you’re more likely to be free and creative.

Need more convincing? Read the article Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too. After an overview of Charles Darwin’s daily—and surprisingly pleasant—routine, it argues Darwin and his amateur scientist/author/social reformer/lawmaker contemporary John Lubbock weren’t accomplished despite their leisure; they were accomplished because of it. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang explains:

“…despite their differences in personality and the different quality of their achievements, both Darwin and Lubbock managed something that seems increasingly alien today. Their lives were full and memorable, their work was prodigious, and yet their days are also filled with downtime.”

Ernest Hemingway wrote from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz “worked as a civil servant,” and “mainly wrote fiction in the late afternoon, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.” Writer Alice Munro: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.; and Gabriel García Márquez: five hours a day.

It’s better to come to work rested, refreshed, and ready to be in peak productivity mode. In a recent FastCompany article, Lydia Dishman explores Project: Time Off’s new report, The State of American Vacation. The report found that:

“…planning a vacation in advance led to better follow-through and using more of the time available to take off. Further, planning was responsible for a mood boost. Workers who planned their vacations resulted in increased happiness across nine factors, including professional success, financial situation, and their company.”

We should follow the example of accomplished men and women before us—and be willing to step away from our desks, go for a walk, and plan (and take!) vacations.

Hack #5: Gut-check meeting agendas

Time box: As needed

As a team, we plan most of our meetings (both internally and with our clients) at least two weeks in advance, generally during sprint planning. So, when I receive an ad hoc meeting invite, I immediately evaluate it. I ask:

  • Does it have an agenda?
  • Does it have clear goals or desired outcomes?
  • Is it as short as it could be?
  • Do I need to be there?

If the answers aren’t clear, I’ll ask the organizer, “Hey—what’s the agenda for this meeting?” Typically when someone sits down to write an agenda, they realize the meeting actually can be shorter, or the tasks can be accomplished in another way.

Continue learning

I love to read, and there are some great resources out there that can help you learn more about time management best practices. My personal favorites are Slack by Tom DeMarco, Getting Things Done by David Allen, and SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland.

Share Your Time Management Hacks

At Unboxed, we love to find ways to help people be more productive in their jobs. So, if there are any time management hacks that have really helped you achieve your goals, please share ‘em in the comments below!

The Sales Behavior Advantage: Why Reps Need More Than Skills

You’re comparing the numbers for two sales professionals on your team, David and Serita. David’s are all over the board, while Serita consistently meets or beats her targets. You look into the possible variables: her territory, her goals, her experience, and the hours she puts in. No glaring differentiators there.

So, what’s Serita’s secret? After a little more digging, you realize this: Serita’s success is a result of her behaviors.

Sales behaviors drive results over time, for better—or for worse. If you want to develop your sales team, improve your customer experience, and consistently meet and beat your targets, behavior training is one of best things you can invest in.

Sales behavior training to apply knowledge and skills

What is behavior training?

Behavior training focuses on the choices sales professionals can make throughout their week, and it encourages them to make decisions that will achieve the best results.

Take your needs analysis for example. David can conduct a needs analysis with every prospect, or he can skip it and go straight to the recommendation. He has a choice to make. (We’re hoping he’ll conduct a needs analysis with every prospect, right?!)

Behavior training also builds on knowledge and skills. First David needs to know what he’s selling and why it’s important. Then he needs to know how to sell it (this is where skills like building rapport and overcoming objections come into play). Once he’s learned that, then he needs to choose the actions he’ll take day in and day out—his behaviors.

Think about it this way. You can organize most training content into three buckets:

  • Knowledge: What it is and why it’s important
  • Skills: How to do it
  • Behaviors: The action taken

How to train knowledge, skills, and sales behaviors

Behavior training is David’s chance to think critically and apply the knowledge and skills he’s learned. It’s the capstone of your onboarding program—the course that ties it all together.

Why is behavior training important?

Sales behaviors drive sales activities, which in turn drive results. When you’re David—doing your best to keep up with orders, contracts, and Salesforce—it can be hard to step back and analyze the connection between your choices, your sales activities, and your results. But, it’s clear: behaviors are at the heart of his results.
Sales behaviors are at the heart of resultsAs we’ve learned from our work with sales organizations like BH Media Group, you can’t coach results, but you can coach the behaviors that influence them. Norman Behar of the Sales Readiness Group puts it this way:

A good analogy that demonstrates this point is weight loss. Someone who wants to lose weight cannot simply get on a scale daily and record their weight. While there is likely to be some fluctuation day to day, the results are not meaningful unless they are taking specific behaviors (e.g., modified diet, exercise) that will impact these results.

Behavior training moves the focus from what might be outside of David’s control (market volatility, season, pricing) to what’s within his control (the actions he can take to accomplish his goals).

How should I train sales behaviors?

To create a behavioral sales training strategy, put your analyst hat on. Find out who your other high performers like Serita are, and then ask open-ended questions to figure out their shared best practices.

From there, align their best practices (a.k.a. their behaviors) with your sales process. If the first stage in your sales process is Greet, what are the specific behaviors that characterize an effective greeting?

Socialize what you’ve learned with your frontline, managers, and key stakeholders; get feedback; and refine your design. After that, you’re ready to develop your training.

The key is to give your learners choices. If they choose the right behavior, affirm their decision and reinforce why it was right. If they select the wrong behavior, help them understand why it’s wrong and why a different decision would get a better result. When designed the right way, a simulated, scenario-based approach can work extremely well within an instructor-led context or a self-paced eLearning context.

Remember, it’s easy to focus on results, but you can’t coach results. If you want your sales professionals like David and Serita to apply their knowledge and skills in a variety of real-world situations, let them practice making decisions. Show them how their sales behaviors impact their customer relationships and their numbers. It’s the day-to-day behavioral choices that help them achieve consistent wins.

Animated or Live Action Training Videos: What’s Best?

One of the first questions we hear from companies looking for custom training videos is whether they should choose animation or live action.

To offer some guidance, here are three key factors we help clients evaluate when creating video-based training. We’ll also do some myth-busting along the way so you’re armed with plenty of insight and ideas to share with your team and potential video production partners.

Live action or animation

3 Key Factors To Consider When Choosing A Video Style

Audience Goals

If you want to model best practices and behaviors, live action is the way to go. It’s helpful to see someone else do something before you try it yourself. Body language and verbal and nonverbal cues are easier to demonstrate with real people, too. Plus, live action footage adds a human element, which hooks the audience emotionally and builds empathy.

If you’re explaining a concept, animation brings that information to life in a memorable way. You wouldn’t explain the intricacies of DNA without animated models, and you wouldn’t rely on interviews to explain how internal combustion engines work, right?

Subject Matter

Video, whether b roll (motion-only footage) or live action, is a great way to showcase actual people and products. When onboarding new employees, for instance, showing them real products is more effective than showing them animated models. Context is king.

Animation effectively visualizes complex information or concepts in a simple way. Take a software workflow—say you’re rolling out a brand new CRM. The tool can be introduced at a high level with graphics and illustrations that summarize how using this tool works into team members’ daily routine and the benefits it offers. Then, at the parts of the training video where people need to be shown specific steps (such as how to update a client’s account information), screencast of the software UI can be used to complement the animation—you can show a recording of the screens being navigated and data being entered into the system.

Content Updates

If your company needs to update training content frequently, animation is a better fit. Instead of having to update the script and coordinate the cast, production crew, and location for a video reshoot, fewer players will be needed to update the script and graphics for an animation.

If you’re producing more evergreen content that won’t change in the near future, live action makes sense. For instance, say you’ve created live action videos that demonstrate effective ways to build rapport with a prospect. Unless there’s a radical shift in your sales process, these skills—and your footage—will be relevant for a long time to come and your investment in live action video is protected.

Live Action Animation
Audience Goals Modeling best practices and behaviors Explaining a concept
Subject Matter Showcasing actual people and products Visualizing complex information in a simple way
Content Updates Building more evergreen content Frequent content updates

 

What About Budget?

Budgets. We all have ‘em. But we caution people not to play a strictly numbers game. Buying based on the lowest price tag is tempting. But that decision may come with other hidden costs. If the final product isn’t up to your brand’s quality standards or if it doesn’t effectively teach people what to do, you’ll have to pay to redo the video.

Plus, there’s more at stake than the initial cost to create a module—training affects job performance, employee attitudes, and ultimately revenue.

A good training partner will help you achieve your goals within the constraints of your budget. They’ll recommend good, better, and best options and help you understand what the give-and-take will be with each option, and how that will impact your learners.

Be Wary of These Video Production Myths

As you’re considering the style of training video to produce, it’s also important not to let these myths derail you and prevent you from making the best decision for your learners.

Myth 1: Live Action Video Is More Expensive

While a live video shoot typically requires more people (think cast and crew) and gear (lighting, sound equipment, cameras, and props), it won’t always be the most expensive option. Video length and production complexity are big variables. A one-minute animation that’s completely 3D and has a lot of special effects could cost the same as a three-minute live video. There might only be one animator on the project, but they’ll need more hours because of the level of detail and effort it takes to illustrate and animate a 3D feature.

That’s not to say that all live action videos are equal. Production costs are affected by factors like:

  • Location: A video shoot with multiple locations will take longer because of travel time and having to set up and take down cameras, lights, and other equipment. And if you’re not using your own stores or offices, location rental fees will come into play.
  • Actors: The bigger the cast, the bigger the cost.
  • Crew: If you need sound, you’ll need sound equipment and crew to operate it. But if you’re capturing b roll (motion-only footage), that’s not necessary.

Good production companies will know how to tailor live video to achieve the best result for learners within your budget.

Myth 2: Animation Takes Longer to Produce

Some companies will tell you an animation takes months to get to market whereas live action video can be delivered in four weeks.

Here’s the reality: timelines aren’t influenced by the style of your video. They depend more on how soon the client wants the finished product and how fast the production company can move. There is equal planning involved in both video formats, and an equal number of moving parts. And each format includes review time, editing, and final delivery of the product. A more agile company, like Unboxed, is able to flex their timeline to the client’s needs.

And similar to the cost, the timeline is also influenced by the length and complexity of the production.

Myth 3: You Have to Choose Between Live Action and Animation

The world of video production is wider than just animation and just live action. Good production companies use a combination of:

  • B roll (motion only video footage)
  • Live action footage
  • Animation
  • Screencast (recording of the interface of a program or tool)
  • Kinetic typography (moving text)

Your options are only limited by the creativity of your video production partner.

So, What’s Best? Animation or live action?

What type of video training is right for your company? The one that best fits the goals, subject matter, and shelf life of your training content. End of story.

Both animated and live action videos can connect learners to your brand, culture, solutions, and each other—but you don’t have to choose between one format or the other.

Have more questions about live action or animated video? Let’s chat. Drop us a line in the comments or send us an email. We’re here to help!