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Sales Consulting and Training:

Sales Training Handbook

Purchasing Videotaped Sales Training Materials

There are still some very poorly made videos being sold. One recent example is a set of training films for telephone sales. Each tape in the set was edited from a two-day live presentation and was condensed into a total of two hours. The editing was sloppy and the segue was missing. The recommendations to “stop and discuss the tape…now” were amateurish and redundant. The producers of the tapes apparently confused their audience with an audience who lacked any TV exposure.

Mechanical stops for discussion are necessary, especially when the trainer is not knowledgeable or is merely a facilitator, but the machine should not insult us by telling us to do it. Some videotapes overcomplicate, including virtually everything on the tape when some of it could be left for the training manual. Other videotapes oversimplify to the point that they are hardly any use at all.

In general, however, off-the-shelf video training programs have changed considerably since the middle 1970’s. Early videotapes were often awkwardly staged, terribly simplistic, and set in unbelievably stark office settings with actors who sounded like actors. Too many obvious mechanical stops were built in. Role playing and modeling seemed far removed from the practical world. The examples used often had limited application – technical people were unimpressed with how to sell washing machines in a department store. Other tapes may have had great selling ideas, but little understanding of the business milieu. Some well-packaged programs used good concepts and skill applications but did not include the rationale for when or why to use them. Some vendors of training tapes tried to put everything on the tape, instead of putting some of the program into an instructor’s guide. Most of these problems have disappeared today.

The entire business of producing instructional video materials has undergone tremendous growth, and competetiveness has bred new levels of sophistication. As with any infant industry, trial and error and new entrants have improved the early products.

Today, Harvard case studies, behavioral data, and statistical quality information have all been added to the to the skill-based programs to keep up with the complexity of competitive world markets. Currently, off-the-shelf training materials are more informative, more practical, more tailored to individual needs, and more cognizant of how people learn; further, the number of vendors and video tapes has multiplied many times over. Magazines for human resource specialists contain hundreds of advertisements for sales training programs, and universities stock extensive corporate training films. In larger cities, telephone Yellow Pages list local vendors and video production companies.

How to “Preview” Video Tapes

Previewing video tapes can be a quick method to locate possible training materials at either nominal or no cost. Some need merely to be rented for a few days. However, don’t expect the panoramic extravagance of Gone with the Wind on a local news bulletin budget. Just because it’s video does not mean that it’s sophisticated or complete.

Searching through the mass of video tapes available can be very disappointing and potentially fruitless. Previewing video tapes by ordering from vendors’ brochures may take several weeks, which is no problem only if you have plenty of time. Instead, try visiting a university with a large library of tapes (an economical and practical solutions) or use personal contacts within your industry/. Or check with local professional associations to see what might be available.

However you begin your search, eventually you will have one or more tapes to evaluate. Figure 5 is a checklist to use to compare video tapes for the particular characteristics you want. Even though evaluating video tapes can be time consuming, it must be considered a serious effort. Budgets can be defended for effective training programs.

In general, however, off-the-shelf video training programs have changed considerably since the middle 1970’s. Early videotapes were often awkwardly staged, terribly simplistic, and set in unbelievably stark office settings with actors who sounded like actors. Too many obvious mechanical stops were built in. Role playing and modeling seemed far removed from the practical world. The examples used often had limited application – technical people were unimpressed with how to sell washing machines in a department store. Other tapes may have had great selling ideas, but little understanding of the business milieu. Some well-packaged programs used good concepts and skill applications but did not include the rationale for when or why to use them. Some vendors of training tapes tried to put everything on the tape, instead of putting some of the program into an instructor’s guide. Most of these problems have disappeared today.


Figure 5 Checklist for video tape selection

Desired Characteristic Tape A Tape B Tape C

PURPOSE
New Information
Concepts
Skills
Drills, practice
Supplemental information
ADVANCE
Sophistication (rate 1-5)
Need (rate 1-5)
Preparation (rate 1-5)

FORMAT
Interactive
Motivational
Controllable
Sound instructional design
Clear information
Provides reinforcement
Assessable

PRODUCTION
Color and graphics (rate 1-5)
Music and narrative (rate 1-5)
Appropriate setting (rate 1-5)

LIFE EXPECTANCY
Dated video information
Dated audio information
COMPLETENESS
Instructional booklets
Practice vehicles

TONE
Too condescending
Too technical

TIME REQUIREMENTS
Mastery time
Organizational deadline

COST FACTORS
Absolute cost
Useful life
Incidental expenses
Projected cost/trainee

PRACTICALITY
Facilities
Equipment

MASTERY
Every qualified trainee
Trainee acceptan

Devloping a Training Program with Video - Page 5 Make Your Own Training Video, Part 1- Page 7
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