Training: The Missing Step in the Sales Process

Training, Sales, Product Training

Closing out a sale signals the commencement of a client onboarding process. For many companies, this means an installation, set-up, and customizations. One of the most important elements in client onboarding that is often left out is training. Training will have a major impact on the client satisfaction with your product and the client’s impression of your company.

Pre-sales demos should not be considered training. During the pre-sales time, your client was exploring the functionality of your product and still prospecting other options. After a client has selected your product, they now have an open mind on moving forward with their chosen solution. You don’t have to sell them on the features anymore; you need to teach them how they are now going to use these features to carry out their end goal with your product.

Training and guidance on “the basics” is crucial. Without some sort of instruction manual, your client is going to quickly become frustrated with the functionality of your product. Many companies provide manuals, but in my experience opening up an 89 page PDF file when I am having an issue can be a little daunting. This is why any company performing product training needs to have a variety of media formats available: resource library of videos, help index, FAQ resources, and access to a support team.

Make sure your client is getting the full value of the product through training. If left to their own to explore, a client might not find out all the features available in their newly purchased products. Companies don’t realize that many of the features, tricks, and shortcuts are not always as intuitive as you would like for them to be. This is also where a great human interaction can come into place. Having a dedicated product trainer or subject matter expert talk with the client about their plans and expectations for the product will allow the training session to cover the important segments that apply to the client’s specific goals.

Training is a way to cross-sell. Perhaps you have a product line that ranges in price and scale of functionality. Getting a client started with the smaller scale product gives you the opportunity to impress them with your product, and intrigues them into what might be possible with your premium models or services. Their satisfaction with your product is going to leave them coming back for more, and seeing your company as the expert in this product line.

If you are left wondering HOW to performing product training, know that there is not one perfect solution. This is where the term “blended” learning comes into play. Having a dedicated trainer or support team coupled with a resource library is really the best option so that some clients can self-serve while others can speak to someone directly when a question comes up.

Part #4 What I wish I would have known when graduating 6 years ago.

This is the final post in the series that I created on graduation/ life advice for recent graduates. 

To recap-

#1 The Importance of a Budget, as scary as it is to see your spending habits, it is the only way you can attack your finances.

#2 Keep Your Turtle Shell Small, because the ability to move will create even more opportunities.

#3 You Will Ultimately Be Responsible for your Career Development, since you have your own best interests in mind.

For the last and final lesson I would like to focus on the perspective of time and decision making:

Part #3- Keep a Perspective on the Time Length of Events

Take a look at the image at the top.  I created the graph based on the following assumptions:

– Your formal education before you start working is 22 years.

– The average millennial’s tenure at their first full time position is 1.5 years according to one source. The time for employees, regardless of what point they are in their careers floats around 4.5 years.  For this reason I created a nice round number of 3 years for your first job.

– I assumed retirement was set at 65.  I realize this can vastly vary on life situations.

– I set life expectancy to 90. 

How does the red make you feel?  Based on my own personal experiences, I put way too much pressure on myself for having everything “figured out” by the end of the red time.  I thought that I had to know what I was going to do for the rest of my career by the time I got work experience under my belt. My hope for recent graduates is that you will realize how small the red is compared to the overall graph. Speaking from the other side of those red years I can honestly say the time went by fast, even though it didn’t feel that way when I was in the thick of things.

How does the green make you feel?  Do you feel overwhelmed?  I remember after my first month of work wondering how I was ever going to make it to retirement. For me, looking at the green drives home the point that it is important to find work that you love.  Your working years are going to comprise a major chunk of your life, so you might as well put thought and effort into enjoying those years.

My point is this: New grads, statistics tell us that your first job isn’t going to last very long.  It is not a “career sentence.”

After a few years my mind changed on what I wanted to do for work.  I associated the word “change” with being unstable and unsure of what I wanted.  I realized that the word to better identify my thought process was not change, but rather evolve.  After my first few years of collective work experiences and outside influences, my mind evolved to have stronger thoughts on my abilities and passions.  This was accomplished by actually getting out and creating new expereinces, not just thinking about what I wanted to do or did not want to do.  Example: I thought I wanted a career that involved an element of public speaking.  I joined a local Toastmaster’s club to test this thought.  I found that I truly did enjoy public speaking and I was actually pretty good at it.  Test you thoughts and assumptions. It will provide you more information than just thinking about what you want to do.

Do I have some final, all encompassing job title and vocational calling? No. Every day is still a learning process in my late 20s.

To all my recent grads, my hope for you is that you enter the workplace mindful of how valuable this experience will be to shaping your identity.  Do not let the experience define your identity as the only type of work you can do, but rather let it contribute as one small piece of the puzzle for your overall career.

How to Easily Create a Vision Board from Pinterest Pins

After putting it off for months, maybe even years, I finally made a vision board. For those of you that are not familiar with what a vision board is, here is the best definition I found:

A vision board is a tool used to help clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. Literally, a vision board is any sort of board on which you display images that represent whatever you want to be, do or have in your life.     –, What is a Vision Board?

Honestly, I am glad that I waited so long to do this because after my year of a career rumspringa*, my vision is much more clear.

There is no right way to create a vision board, but my personal problem was that many instructions online tell you to clip photos out of magazines. If I followed this method, I would have a vision of a skinny model on a Caribbean vacation.

I have found that Pinterest is a great resource for gathering the pieces of your vision. Some creators might want to leave it on Pinterest and have a virtual vision board. But for me, I needed something that I could look at each day and filter my thoughts through as I am coming up on a fork in the road.

With that in mind, I tried to find an efficient way to get all my pins on the canvases I had picked out. After working for an hour trying to fit my photos on a MS Word Document, I found a better way.

Steps to Creating a Physical Vision Board from Pinterest Pins (for Mac Users):

1. Collect all the pins on a separate “Vision Board” Board on Pinterest.

2. Once you have pinned everything you want to include on your board, right click on the Pin and click on “Save to Downloads.” Note: This feature is available on Safari.

3. Now decide what size you want your images to be. In the next step you will have an option of printing 1-2-4-6-9-16 images per page. For me, I had a smaller canvas so 16 was the best option.

4. Select 5 or so images by first selecting one image, then the up/down arrow + shift to select multiple photos at once. Right click, and select the option to Open with > Preview.

5. Once preview has opened, select your remaining photos and drag & drop them into the sidebar of Preview.

6. After you have all your photos on the side bar of preview, it is time to print. From the top menu in Preview, select File> Print.

7. On the print menu, select Orientation> Layout. Then select the pages per sheet for how many photos you will be printing on each paper. Also make sure the two sided option is off.

8. Now you are ready to print. My at home printer is decent, but I really wanted my images to be high quality. I had them professionally printed at a local print shop on cardstock for $1.00 per page. In order to print elsewhere, I saved as a PDF, and then emailed the file over to the print shop.

Setting on Printer to print many pins

Windows Users: From the research I did online, it appears you can also right click to save images into your downloads folder. The Photo Viewer has similar functionality to Preview. For more information, check out this page.

VBCreationOnce you have printed your images, you can cut them out and paste them on your canvas. I added a few phrases into mine and spent some time figuring out the layout of all my images before I pasted them on the boards. For my boards I used 11×14 canvases purchased in a 2-pack from Michaels. I used some craft paint for the background and didn’t obsess too much over my (lack of) artistic ability. Overall I this activity took me 3-4 hours to complete (not including my detour of trying to print in Word). I appreciate the outcome and enjoy having my vision come to life to remind me of the goals and aspirations I am working towards in the distant and near future.

*Career rumspringa (n)- rumspringa is a period of personal freedom for Amish adolescences in which they make the choice to stay or leave the community. Career rumspringa is my period in which I left my salaried job to work two part time jobs to experience other areas/ industries.


Getting Started with E-Learning: Jing

In my beginning days as a trainer I was always in search of software programs that could give me an edge on my ability to produce training content. I downloaded Jing one day because I figured, “Why not, its free.” Since then, I became a daily Jing user. Jing is a product that not only can take a screenshot of your desktop, but also take screencasts. A screencast is a video of your desktop, which can allow you to demonstrate a process or record a presentation.

Hear are the reason why Jing is my software of choice when it comes to screenshots and screencasts:

Stays inconspicuously on the corner of your desktop. Jing has a nice icon that stays out of the way and is ready to take a screenshot at any time. In the preferences section you can adjust the settings so that the command keys will start a screenshot without you even having to click on the icon.

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.22.40 AM

Easy sharing with Account. When getting started with Jing, you have the option of connecting the account to is another product of TechSmith’s line of eLearning software. For the basics it is free which allows you 2 GB of storage and 2 GB of monthly bandwidth. For starters, this will serve you well. is somewhat like a stripped down version of YouTube. No ads, just your content, which is great for a simple, professional interface. Once you capture your screencast on Jing, there is a button to automatically add the video to and the hyperlink to share this video will appear on your clipboard.


Videos limited to 5 minutes. This is both a positive and negative aspect of Jing. By only allowing you to record for a 5 minute period, it forces you to be concise and deliberate in your screencast. In general, recording smaller length screencasts is ideal for your audience since the average attention span of the adult learner to watch an internet video is 2.7 minutes. However, if you wish to exceed the 5 minute span, you can use a tool called Camtasia Studios or make your videos into segments such as “Part 1, Part 2, etc.”

No need to save photo files.  Prior to Jing I was using the standard Windows/ Apple command keys for taking a screenshot. One of my biggest peeves with this was the number of steps to send an email with a screenshot. This would involve taking the screenshot, saving he screenshot file, opening the email, attaching the screenshot file, and then sending. With Jing’s interface I can copy the photo onto my clipboard and have it readily available to insert into my document or my email.

When Saving Photos or Videos, you can title them right away. In the event that you are creating a manual or need to have a series of screenshots, Jing allows you to title the photo after taking the screenshot or screencast. Note: the photos will be saved as a .png and the videos as a .swf.


You can find the direct download for Jing here on the TechSmith website.

Here is my 3 minute overview of the features available in Jing:

Fiverr for Outsourcing: Saving Time, Money, and Headaches

My journey with outsourcing

I started outsourcing in 2010. I was working with a large data set in Excel that needed re-formatting and minor calculations. The first time I tried it, it took me over 8 hours to do. This was going to be a monthly project and I was not looking forward to fitting this project into my already overflowing schedule. I ended up finding an engineer in the Philippines that not only did it faster than me, but whose hourly rate was significantly less than mine. It made for an easy approval when I asked my supervisor to spring for the cost.  This was done through  Odesk was great for building a long relationship with this contractor, but I faced a lot of frustrations when working on small, one time projects.

Turning to Fiverr

Fast forward to December 2013 and I am starting on my own freelancing adventures. Over the past few months I have had a random smattering of tasks (see below) I needed to complete. I turned to Fiverr and have been floored at the quality, ease, and speed of the services. Fiverr has been around since 2010. The premise is that their gigs start at $5. A seller can go up in price from there with additional services, but each seller has to offer some baseline product.

Example: Proofreading 3k Words ($5)
–      For including the track changes function (additional $5)
–      Providing feedback on your writing style (additional $15)

You get the picture. Now, here is where Fiverr has shined compared to my prior outsourcing experiences:

Great for when you are looking for a product, not a person. Odesk is geared more so to finding the right person to compete a task. You see a profile picture of this person and a resume of sorts with their qualifications. It takes time to go through all these and make the best selection. Fiverr on the other had has a higher emphasis on the product. Gigs are classified by the product, not by the person’s expertise.

Express Gigs- 24 hour Delivery Guaranteed. On the filter options you can search for gigs that will be delivered in less than 24 hours. Once your order is placed, a countdown timer starts. If that seller does not deliver within the 24 hour timeframe, your account will be refunded.

Expansive, visual portfolios. This is one area where Odesk is really lacking. When I bring up the page of a contractor, I have to dig to see samples of his work. Fiverr has this front and center for every contractor. While this does not apply for every type of gig (e.g. proofreading) it is very helpful when working in graphic design gigs. Fiverr also occasionally has the contractors recording a video talking about their product and services. Videos are one more valuable layer to understand who is going to be working on your contract.

Process flows very easily.  Setting up an account is a fairly seamless process and payments can be done through Paypal. Once you order a gig, an automated message with the seller appears in your inbox probing for the requirements or necessary files to get started on your project. From this point there might be some back and forth for modifications, but communication is pretty minimal.  Granted, I have learned the best practices over time for communicating with contractors and bottom line is this: the more information you can provide up front, the easier the process will be.

Completely random, fun things. Since the website has a great interface, I have found myself mindlessly clicking through the offered gigs just to see what was out there. One of them that I ended up getting was the Paper Truck Logo gig. I sent it as a thank you to a client in the transit industry with their company logo. I actually printed it out, assembled it at home, and then mailed it in a box. It made for a fun “crafternoon” activity and as you can imagine, the client was not expecting this type of thing to come in the mail.

As of today, I have ordered 23 Gigs from Fiverr.  Here are some of the final products:

Logo design– I needed something with my name that I could use for personal branding.  I have used this on Letterheads, documents, etc.

LauraMcClernonLOGOCreating a graphically enhanced resume– This was something that I had been wanting to do for a while and got it done quickly once I found out that I could pay someone $5.  I am not knowledgeable about Photoshop and it would have taken me an immense amount of time to create something like this on my own.  The idea behind these resumes is that they read more like a website.  The human eye is becoming more trained to read in this format compare to the traditional resume.  How/when to use this type of resume is a topic for another day, but if you do go the graphic route keep a traditional resume on hand.

Creative, Graphic Resume, Fiverr, Resume

Illustrating a quote– In recent marketing material I needed to have a quote to illustrate a point.  I looked high and low on Pinterest. No where to be found. Fiverr to the rescue! My quote was illustrated in less than 24 hours.


Creating an eBook Cover– I started writing my first ever eBook in late 2013. The estimated completion date is late August (hold me to it!) and I just got the cover done last week.  I brainstormed a couple of ideas and the seller really took my ideas to the next level.

lauramcclernon_rev1Other Purchases (no cool graphics to display)– Proofreading, installing an open-sourced software on a server, asking an expert 10 questions on a software, creating a flash enhanced intro, and reviewing my LinkedIn profile.

Ready to get started?  Check out the Fiverr website and the thousands of gigs available today.