Remote Learning – The New Normal

Why Remote Learning?

COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted businesses around the world.  Organizations did not get enough time to prepare themselves to handle this situation. For the first few months, strategies were driven by panic and followed by finding quick fixes.

The training domain was no exception.  Some organizations simply started delivering classroom training programs over web meetings tools, just to realize that learner engagement has gone down, and their classroom trainers are not prepared for an online training delivery.  While others took the presumably safer route and decided to wait for things to go back to normal and then continue with their existing classroom training model.

However, today, most of us have accepted the fact that remote learning is the new normal and is here to stay even beyond COVID- 19. The sooner we adapt to it, the easier it would be for an organization to sustain in these changed market dynamics. The good thing is that this modality has been around for quite some time and hence, there are set practices and tools available to make it effective. It would also help to know that there are companies which have successfully figured out effective business models to work around it. Lamcon Finance & Management Services Pvt. Ltd, a leading provider of financial training programs, is one such success story where their core business model of Instructor-Led Training (ILT) delivery was successfully transitioned to a Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) model.

Tips to convert ILT to VILT

Here are a few things they kept in mind as they converted their ILT programs to VILT:

    1. Virtual learning is not classroom training delivered over a web meeting
    2. Learner engagement is the key
    3. Explore technology to deliver better learning experience

Want to know the complete story and reasons behind Lamcon’s success? Join Dr. Anil Lamba, bestselling author, international corporate trainer, and Director of Lamcon Finance & Management Services Pvt. Ltd, in an interactive webinar on July 16, 10 AM Pacific Time. Register here: https://harbingergroup.zoom.us/webinar/register/6515943631466/WN_xfWCGyW9QwGunj-aHkaSbQ.

For any queries, please reach out to info@harbingerlearning.com.

3 Ways The Health Insurance Industry Is Using Technology To Its Advantage

As the whole world grapples with COVID- 19, industries are exploring various ways to ensure business continuity. Amongst these industries, the insurance industry, specifically its health insurance segment, finds itself in a unique situation. On one hand people want to buy health insurance to safeguard their families, but on the other hand it is hard for sales agents to sell insurance in a virtual environment. Insurance sales have always relied on the high-touch, in-person mode of selling.

Traditionally, the insurance industry has always been an early adopter of technology and they seem to be using it to their advantage during this crisis as well. Here are a few things we found worth sharing from recent interactions with our insurance sector customers.

1. Supporting Customers Using Chatbots

Insurance industry has started using Artificial Intelligence (AI) as their first responder. AI-based chatbots are helping support teams and call centers to handle frequently asked questions. Due to this, call centers are able to handle customer queries even when they are short on staff. This also helps in gathering business intelligence about customer preferences, options, and buying patterns.

2. Making Online Payments

Filling forms and online premium payment is an integral part of buying or claiming insurance. Customers often need help with these activities; however, in today’s situation it is not possible for them to sit across the table with agents to discuss these things. Online training modules on use of web meeting tools are supporting both agents and customers, without putting anyone at risk.

3. Selling Insurance in Online Mode

Insurance industry follows a high-touch sales model and sales agents are trained to sell insurance over face to face meetings.  Online micro-learning modules on social selling, phone, and internet-based selling, are supporting sales agents in achieving their business targets. It is not only about using zoom or WebEx; but also engaging customers in online mode, building trust, understanding their unsaid needs, and much more. Virtual selling would be an important competency for any insurance agent going forward. Technology-based selling is not a temporary fix. It will be the new normal, even beyond COVID- 19.

Are you working in the insurance industry? What solutions are you exploring to enable and empower your sales team? Comment below.

5 Ways Pharmaceutical Sales Reps Can Engage Better with Physicians Virtually

In my previous blog, I touched upon the impact of coronavirus pandemic on life sciences training. Within the life sciences ecosystem, the pharmaceutical industry is facing unique challenges as its popular in-person sales model has almost become non-existent. In-person meetings had their own advantage as the sales reps could convey the desired message more efficiently and connect better with physicians. But now, with the changed sales dynamics, there is a chance that sales reps will have lesser influence over physicians, which can eventually impact business. In order to minimize this impact and ensure business continuity, pharmaceutical sales teams are now switching to digital engagements, advanced analytics, and virtual training.  Sales reps are getting trained on digital channels via micro-learning videos, simulations, and scenario-based role plays. Their objective is not only to be effective on virtual sales calls but to go an extra mile in building deeper bonds with physicians.

Tips for Online Pharmaceutical Sales

Let us look at some approaches that a sales rep can use, to sell to physicians in a virtual environment:

  1. Playing a Consultative Role – It is important to understand the challenges that physicians might be facing in the current situation and suggest potential solutions. For e.g. a physician may be struggling to determine how to distinguish patients with existing chronic diseases from the ones who are actually affected by coronavirus. In such a case, the sales rep could suggest a solution like an AI powered chatbot, which can help to determine the actual health issue based on the patient response and in-turn schedule appointments.
  2. Personalizing Content – In the current times, it is normal for physicians to get flooded with generic solutions to their problems which could get too overwhelming. Sales reps should use this opportunity to work closely with their marketing team to identify new channels and draw strategies to cater to behavior and preference of each customer. Nudging physicians with personalized content should help to create a positive impression and get an edge over competitors.
  3. Supporting Patients – Sales reps can instill trust and confidence in their key customers by delivering medicines to home-bound patients and ensuring that supplies are not disrupted for specialty medications for patients. Such acts are generally valued and appreciated by customers, which eventually helps the sales rep – physician relationship.
  4. Sharpening Skills – Sales reps should get trained on delivering effective sales pitches virtually, product training, role plays, and more. Knowledge on market, competitors, innovative technologies, and customer pain points will help engage physicians better.
  5. Keeping Customers Engaged – “Keep your customers engaged” seems to be mantra for success in these tough times. Pharmaceutical sales reps must leverage new technologies and try innovative ways to keep their customers engaged as part of their long-term strategy.  Although some companies have launched ‘return-to-work’ policies, sales reps should still be ready and armed to sell virtually and build informal relationship with physicians. This would not only add value to the current engagement but also ensure  business continuity beyond COVID- 19.

Are you from the pharmaceutical industry? What are some challenges you have been facing in virtual selling? Write to me at info@harbingerlearning.com to initiate a discussion.

 

Are Universities and Higher Education Institutions Ready to Go Online Amidst the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic?

With the ever-increasing penetration of the novel coronavirus across the globe, social distancing has now become a norm and the only way to curb the widespread of this pandemic. In this scenario, many universities and post-secondary institutions around the world have been forced to shut down all in-person classes and might continue running that way for quite some time to come. Student enrollments have gone down and learner drop-outs have increased.  Institutions with no clear continuity plan to go online are the ones facing the toughest challenge. As some of these institutions face an unpredictable future, the society now demands a more flexible, rapid, yet effective way to take the in-person classes online. But, are these institutions ready yet?

With abundance of experience in the educational technology space, learning solutions and technology providers believe they are well poised with creating a complete online learning infrastructure; as well as making the existing classroom content highly engaging and effective for online delivery.

At first, there are educators who believe that certain subjects can never be taught online. They also have their doubts regarding the impact of online medium of teaching and aren’t confident about online learning meeting the end objectives lessons. That is where learning consultants put on their thinking caps and recommend appropriate solutions to meet the required learning objectives.

On the other hand, there are educators who think that going online is just so simple. Subscribe to an online conferencing tool such as Zoom or WebEx, ask your students to join the online session; and begin presenting your screen by using the same presentation deck which was earlier used for in-person classes. If you are an educator and are thinking of taking the same approach, unfortunately, I have some unpleasant news for you. This may be a good makeshift arrangement; but will get you nowhere with your end learning objectives. You would soon realize that these sessions are not effective.

Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) or even for that matter, self-paced eLearning modules were never meant to be delivered to your learners with them sitting in front of a machine for several hours. Apart from that, being able to grab Gen Z’s attention to your lesson is a challenge in itself, with so many distractors around them. Delivering classes online involves much more than what you actually thought.

Following are a few ways in which you can make sure to deliver online classes in the most efficient and effective way.

  1. Train the Trainer – Make sure to train your teachers/trainers on the tools that would be used for delivering virtual classes. Familiarize them with the tool’s features and interface. To make it more effective, share job aids of best practices in online delivery.
  2. Transform Instructor Led Training (ILT) Presentation Decks – This is one of the most crucial parts to ensure that students who are attending classes remotely are hooked on and engaged to the topic being taught. You can start by making your existing ILT deck visually attractive by adding infographics, short animated videos, create subtle engagement points during delivery, and use interactions to present case studies and scenarios.
  3. Add interactions appropriately – Use break-out rooms for group exercises, add knowledge checks using game-based quizzes for a healthy competition at key points, have a break by cracking a joke or sharing some interesting facts with the learners, use whiteboards, and more. These activities need to be planned well to ensure you have continued learner attention and participation.
  4. Creating Supplementary Training Material – You can create enthusiasm amongst the students by creating pre class materials. For post class reinforcement, you can share materials in the form of interactive eBooks, short nudges, short video summarizing the key points of the day’s class or even a simple AI-driven chatbot which could act as a virtual assistant to answer most common questions the students might have on a particular topic or subject
  5. Learner Support – Get your students ready for the online classroom by familiarizing them to the tools and technology which you plan to leverage. Provide a support desk to answer all their technical questions. Share best practices for online participation and at appropriate times, also ensure to celebrate good participation.

These are just few ways in which you can ensure you are all set for a long-term online delivery plan rather than a stop gap arrangement.

In this increasingly unstable world, we are witnessing abundance of natural and man-made calamities. They have and will continue to affect individuals and the way we deal with our daily routine. Having said that, continuous education is a must for every individual in the society to leap on to the next big thing. Adjusting the way we deliver online sessions, should be of utmost priority with no compromise on the quality and effectiveness.

How are you planning to go online? Your thoughts or suggestions are welcome through comments below.

Coronavirus Pandemic: What Does it mean for Life Sciences Training?

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, all industries are grappling with an unprecedented crisis. Life sciences is no different. Trainers in this industry are facing challenges fundamentally different from what they have ever experienced. This pandemic has forced new boundaries and expectations on them, making them re-think and re-conceptualize training, from a digital lens, this time around.

Life Sciences Training Companies Moving to Virtual Training

With every passing day, a large number of life sciences companies are moving to virtual training. They are embracing emerging technologies like AI-powered chatbots, nudge-learning, pharmacy apps, and fitness wearables to disseminate real-time data.

Nurse educators are quickly adapting themselves to modalities like telehealth and telelearning to supplement the shortage of healthcare providers and to ensure that nurses can deliver services in virtual health environment.

Pharmaceutical companies are looking at mobile apps, webinars, digital platforms, and virtual training conferences, especially for sales representatives to connect with clinicians. There’s also an increased focus on converting product, sales, and compliance training from Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) to cater to remote workforce’s learning needs.

Medical devices companies, which are grappling with challenges like shortage of respirators, testing kits, and masks, are looking at digital training solutions to improve contract manufacturing productivity and ensure supply chain consistency especially when API manufacturing countries have imposed lockdowns.

Hospitals have started leveraging apps and bots to differentiate between those who might really be sick with COVID- 19 and those who are probably suffering from less threatening ailments. Hospitals and clinical labs are also offering digital training to their Healthcare Personnel (HCP) to perform hand hygiene and on effectively handling Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to avoid self-contamination.

During these testing times, life sciences’ training function has experienced tremendous innovation and digital transformation. This pandemic has certainly highlighted that traditional training modalities may just not be enough. Once COVID- 19 settles, it is expected that life sciences companies will invest in innovative training solutions as part of their business continuity strategy.

Are you a part of the life sciences training workforce? What changes have you experienced? How is your organization coping up with this crisis? Comment below.