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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Actors In Training : Why Actors And Improvisers Make Great Coaches

By Jason Mitchell 

action!As a sales training professional with a performing arts background, one of the biggest hurdles I have to overcome when I explain what I do to potential clients usually sounds something like this:  “How can a bunch of actors teach me anything about sales?”   Clients come to us at e-roleplay when they are looking for innovative and effective training solutions, where the learning in which they invest is sustained and actually sticks when their employees get back into the field.  Our incredible team of professional roleplayer/coaches all have backgrounds in the performing arts–whether that’s live theatre, improvisation, stand-up comedy or something else altogether. It is precisely because of these backgrounds that our roleplayers are ideally suited for training and coaching work.  Let me use one experience of mine as a starting point.

I’m in one of those large, banquet-style hotel meeting rooms that anyone who has been to their company’s annual meeting or a sales retreat can picture. I’m sitting across the linen-covered, round table from a Sales Rep, whom I will call Jim.  We have just finished roleplaying a scenario in which I was a small business owner and Jim was trying to sell me his product while integrating his company’s new branding approach.  I give him some feedback about not pushing so hard on solutions and about asking me some clarifying questions to find out why I chose a particular business model, noting how this will help him tailor the branding piece to me so as not to sound scripted or robotic.  He takes a long pause and stares at me, finally saying,  “Have you ever been in sales?” Continue reading

One-To-One Versus One-To-Many: Do We Really Need A Crowd To Learn?

By Randy Sabourin

Traditional learning wisdom tells us that if we need to educateworkshop-old or train a large amount of individuals, we gather them in a classroom or workshop with a teacher teaching and students learning. This process has not served us as well as it did Socrates, who had Aristotle and his peers search for the answers through group discussion and debate. The model of a single teacher educating a group of those eager to learn remains as the foundation for our educational system. This approach works well because students are truly learning new content and the teachers are more knowledgeable. When we graduate to a corporate learning environment we encounter a very similar delivery process. Participants experience a combination of ‘one to many’ workshops and webinars. This ‘one to many’ approach still rings true in a corporate setting economically until costs associated with travel and lost opportunities mount. Research reveals further challenges with the model:   learners only retain 15% to 20% of the knowledge provided during these group setting learning assemblies. Continue reading

Practice Makes Perfect

By Randy Sabourin

We have all heard the adage before: it takes time, practice, repetition, exploration, mistakes and successes to master a new skill. Perfect, though, is a rather lofty goal.

“When I was in school the teachers told me practice makes perfect; then they told me nobody’s perfect so I stopped practicing.” Comedian – Steve Wright

So, let’s say practice makes better or perhaps practice makes permanent,and let’s explore how 

target-prce

wegenerally acquire new business skills. Consider training a large 

group of Sales People on objection handling and cross-selling and their Managers on coaching to the new process: Usually the Corporate Learning and Development (L&D) Team designs or purchases the training material, which is then incorporated into a workshop and perhaps an e-learning module. The participants are assembled; flights, hotels, venues are booked; workshops are attended. The feedback from the workshops is outstanding, the e-learning scores are magnificent, and everyone is happy. Mission accomplished. If they were lucky, the Managers received an extra day of training regarding their responsibility to sustain the new sales process through coaching. While this process varies depending on the size of the organization and the commitment to the learning, this approach has been the norm for decades. Continue reading

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