The developers worked out the bugs and made their final tweaks. The beta customers kicked all the tires and were thrilled. Your new software includes the features the marketplace has been clamoring for, it performs as planned and the CEO has given it the green light.
It’s time to prepare for launch, which, as a sales leader, means making sure your team, partners and users fully understand this complex product. How do you train globally dispersed groups quickly, convincingly and cost-effectively? For starters, you might want to keep your stakeholders on the ground and leverage the cloud.
Bring It to the Cloud
The cloud is the great enabler, and when it comes to complex software training, companies can use it to overcome distance, time, cost and technical limitations.
To handle the training of any sized group, a cloud-based virtual information (IT) lab solution is required. All users need is an internet connection, and you can reach them wherever they’re located, eliminating travel and accommodation costs. Further, because it’s not always possible for participants to break away from the office, this added convenience can drive attendance.
Each user can receive an isolated copy of your product environment in which to learn — his or her own sandbox. Some solutions even enable the uploading of complex on-premise environments to the cloud without any modification, including nested virtualization, network adapters and classless inter-domain routing blocks. Either way, learners enjoy powerful training while you avoid deployment issues and the need for IT involvement.
Naturally, when working across time zones, not every person will be available at the same time. With the cloud, not only can you bring virtual training to remote users, but you can also provide on-demand access to courses and labs so they can learn when it’s most convenient and at a pace that works best for them.
Put It in Their Hands
The learning pyramid model states that when it comes to information retention, the hands-on, “practice-by-doing” method is only outdone by teaching others. When you combine the two and make it interactive, the potential for learners to remember the details you want them to remember is at its peak.
Virtual IT labs allow learners to use your product as intended, without fear of causing any damage. They can work in safe, isolated environments that can easily revert to the original configuration. This approach gives users the confidence to try all scenarios and learn from their mistakes. You can gamify training as well, with sophisticated challenges that create a fun learning environment and make a lasting impression.
Another impactful feature increasingly capturing the attention of instructors is multi-step training. With this approach, you can use virtual IT labs to take users between environments — moving from level to level logically — without interruption or the need to register for additional classes.
When you couple this feature with other new capabilities and communication options, it doesn’t matter whether instructors are in the same room as the students or thousands of miles away. For instance, there are now rich portals that allow instructors to see what each student is doing in real time so that they can recognize when someone is struggling with a product feature and step in to help.
Sell and Support
Familiarizing sales teams and partners with a new product is, perhaps, the most important launch activity of all. It is where buzz is created, loyalty is strengthened and revenue is generated.
When sales and partners have immersive knowledge of your product, they quickly become versed on its benefits and features. Whether it’s an upgrade with added features or a completely new product, once they’ve tried it for themselves, they are in the best position to match the most appealing capabilities to the needs of each prospect or customer.
Virtual IT labs excel in delivering demos and proofs-of-concept (POCs). Having invested so much in product development, you’ll want to showcase your technology accordingly; static screenshots and watered-down product versions won’t enthuse or prepare your audience.
Virtual labs enable sales reps to deliver convincing hands-on trials to prospects, too. Sending a prospect a link to an easily accessible, full-featured test drive, unsupervised, shows confidence. Some platforms also offer analytics that provide visibility into use so that salespeople can gain insight into how a trial is going; ensure that prospects experience key features; and, if a prospect is stalled, quickly jump in and resolve sticking points.
The employees supporting the product should be trained as well. Customer service employees are often the face of the company, and when they can illustrate with ease how to use a product, they raise customer satisfaction and loyalty.
An Event to Remember
Some companies believe face-to-face events build a unique connection and add excitement to a product launch. Virtual IT labs can facilitate these events, with lower costs, while delivering additional benefits. Traditionally, on-site training at kickoffs has been a nightmare for planners who rely on shipping and configuring servers or creating manual copies of environments and distributing them in advance. Virtual IT labs can reduce months of planning to just a couple of days.
With the cloud, infrastructure costs, IT involvement and shipping expenses are curtailed. If you make changes in training materials or the product itself, you can upload and replicate them quickly so everyone is working on the latest version. You can also add users with the click of a mouse and at the last minute.
The right training technology can give your launch a lift, ensuring that sales teams, partners and users won’t forget the details that matter most. You’ll also be able to train more people at less cost — which means your new product launch will be an event to remember, regardless of whether the training takes place in person or online.