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How to Secure Lifelong Customers with Effective Training [Expert Interview]

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Meet the training dream team.

For this next summer camp session, we’re joined by two long-time members of the Pardot training team: Anna Sims and Scott Konkol. 

Anna and Scott are here to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the Pardot training team, share their expert thoughts on the industry as a whole, and give actionable advice to other businesses trying to put an effective training program in place.

Read up! And to learn more about our summer camp content series, please click here.

Anna and Scott, take it away.

Tell us a little bit about your background, how you got involved with our training team, and what attracted you to the role?

Anna: I was actually hired as a client implementation coordinator. I did that for six months, training clients and managing their onboarding experience — so definitely a role where you’re doing a lot of training.

One of my favorite parts of the implementation role was having the product knowledge; really knowing how the product works under the hood and understanding how clients are actually using it in the real world. When I transitioned to the training team as a curriculum development specialist, being able to translate the things I’d learned as an implementation coordinator into broad training materials for the entire client base was a natural progression, and I really felt like that was the most helpful thing that I could be doing at that point.

I remember that; it was definitely a role we needed. And you, Scott?

Scott: I got my Masters degree in learning and development theories. Before Pardot, I worked for a company managing B2B relationships; I was continuously working with these companies making sure that they were meeting their goals, and then working with the employees helping to make sure they helped the companies meet their goals. And then a mentor of mine pointed out that there was a product training position at a B2B company like Pardot might let me combine B2B experience in with the training experience.

Alright, well let’s move on to your advice for our readers. Obviously successful training plays a huge role in customer retention; what do you think the secret is to helping new customers fall in love with a product, ensuring success, and turning new users into lifelong customers and brand advocates?

Anna: I think ‘story’ is huge. This is something we’ve really been focused on at Pardot, is the ‘why’ behind training. You can visit our Knowledge Base and that definitely has its place for the how. But ‘why do I want to do this?’ ‘what are other people doing?’ ‘what are the industry trends that I can play off of with Pardot?’ — having these answers interwoven into your training is huge, because it gives them immediate value. I think it also helps the client not feel so alone, to hear that other people have these questions and that they’re asking them in these same ways.

Scott: And I think another piece of it is, when a prospect is working with that sales rep, they’re selling the value proposition to them, and you end up with two kinds of clients. You have those that are just a tiny bit hesitant — they may be sold on the product, but they are a little bit skeptical that it will actually help them — and you have those who are extremely excited to get started and expect to see big results right away. But both of these types of customers really need those resources and training to be able to achieve this value proposition. So I think our training resources allow them to get into a safe environment to work through their business goals and build that trust and confidence in the product and their own plan for it —and that’s crucial to keeping customers around.

What advice would you give to a company that isn’t allocating resources specifically to training, or is having trouble pitching the value of doing so?

Scott: If you look at a lot of start-ups, training is an afterthought. So you’ll see them start hiring for VP of Training or Director of Training, long after they actually start having clients. Maybe I’m a little biased here, but I think ideally as you’re building out the product you should have someone building out the training as well. That way you’re not backtracking, and you’re providing resources for success from the beginning. And, ideally, having one central location for all of these resources as you build out your curriculum helps you stay organized and strategic — you can see what you have and what you need.

Anna: It sounds so jargon-y, I hate to say it, but you need that single source of truth. You need to be able to say ‘go to this one URL, you’ll find what you need.’  And yeah, building off what Scott said, from what I’ve seen, training as a department and also as an industry overall is chronically understaffed, with a lot of people wearing a lot of hats. So there’s a lot of opportunity but there are also a lot of instances of people being stretched thin.

What other advice would you give to a business that is just getting started with building a training program for their customers?

Anna: Getting your learner personas in place — figuring out, ok, what does my ideal learner look like, what do they want to know, how do they use the product? A great way to do this is to go to engineering and get their ‘user personas’ that they’re using as they build out the product. And we do this — instead of reinventing the wheel we take those engineering stories that they’ve already scoped out and use those personas in our training so that we’re super aligned with what the feature is really supposed to be doing. It allows us to ensure that what someone is sold on is what someone is trained on is exactly what the product actually does — and just having that continuity is really huge.

I love that, that makes a ton of sense. In marketing, we have our ‘buyer personas’ as well, so I think it makes a lot of sense to have every department across the company working off of personas, and making sure they’re consistent.

Anna: Right. And I think for smaller training teams, something we definitely did when there were only two or three of us was try to work with resources you already have. Tweak these, or partner with other teams that are already creating the content as sort of a joint effort. So, say, if we have a new feature coming out, we’ll partner with the engineering team to get the documentation written up. Just kind of making those rounds to other teams in the company, finding out what they’re doing and how you can repurpose it for your new and existing customers.

Any additional advice for those looking to improve upon a program they have in place?

Anna: Something that we’ve really been working on lately is visibility of our training — making sure that clients know what’s available to them, making it easy to find and accessible. We’ve really focused on taking our content and making it smaller. So, two minute videos, or a quick e-learning module. Give them what they need, when they need it, and as bite-sized as possible. If you want to see a company that’s doing a phenomenal job at this, Wistia really inspired us with their product learning center. We really kind of saw that as a standard for us to hit too, marshaling all the resources in one place, and then having that consistent training story behind them as well.

Great advice. Well, I won’t take up a whole lot more of your time, but on a scale of 1 to 10, how excited are you about becoming an instant Pardot celebrity through this blog post?

Anna: I’m at a solid 10! However, I have to say my mom will probably be even more excited than me — you guys can definitely count on her to share this post on her Twitter account. Which she mainly uses to keep tabs on me and remind me of embarrassing moments (moms are so great at keeping you grounded!).

anna

Wow, tough crowd. Scott?

Scott: Obviously a 10! Think this will break the internet?

Speaking of breaking the internet, I’m seeing a conglomeration of nautical polo shirts that have been cropped out of your kid photo (below)…can we expect an impending addition to AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com?

Scott: No comment.

I’ll keep an eye out. In the meantime, join us next week to to talk video marketing strategies. See you at summer camp!

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