Is There a Formula for Effective Sales Enablement?

Although there is no magic formula in sales enablement, the second annual ATD Sell conference featured a number of sales enablement practitioners sharing insights on the making of impactful programs. It is clear that methods, tools, and culture are key in building impactful programs. For lasting results, organizations must shift enablement from a program mindset to a cultural one. Enablement isn’t a project or temporary initiative, but a continuous, ever-improving way to doing business.

Cultural adoption of this mindset requires not just buy-in, but involvement from the top down. Leadership must not simply endorse the enablement mindset, but demonstrate it. They should champion programs and participate in both learning and coaching. This may be best represented by a leader working side-by-side with the team rather than directing from afar.

Methods refer to the tactical approach to building, deploying, and managing enablement programs. Key elements include identifying coachable areas that will help achieve business goals is a great place to start, ensuring the leadership adoption mentioned above, conveying clear expectations for both sellers and coaches, as well as methods to showcase results.

Tools may seem straightforward; however, you have to keep your goal in mind. Are you looking to manage content, or create tailored learning paths, or even facilitate more virtual training? If you are in need of LMS functionality, there are a number of great solutions out there, but if you are looking to change behavior and truly enable sellers to perform at new heights, you have to do something different. At Rehearsal we remain focused on the power of practice using video role-play to hone skills, boost confidence, and reach top performance.

Nothing can replace people in sales and nothing replaces practice in becoming great.

You’ve Thought Enough, Now do the Work


In his most recent weekly newsletter our friend James Clear posed a question to readers: Do you really need to think more, or is it simply a matter of doing the work? It’s a simple yet thought-provoking question. With endless information at our fingertips, our goals may be obscured by all the noise.

In the spirit of continuous improvement in life and business, there is simply no substitute for doing the actual work. This doesn’t mean one should work aimlessly without purpose, knowing when to pause the thinking and start doing is incredibly important.

With respect to video-based practice and coaching, one might be tempted to consternate over the perfect, all-encompassing program to overcome all organizational skills-gaps but this is a recipe for disaster. A better approach with a much higher likelihood for success is to start with one specific topic or skill. Put in the work, the results may surprise you.

You’ve thought enough, now do the work.

Why Collaborative Video-Based Practice Effectively Trains People Skills: A Brain Science Analysis

Written by Todd Maddox, Ph.D.

Rehearsal’s Collaborative Video-Based Practice platform was born out of a growing business need for more effective tools to train the people skills (e.g., communication, collaboration and feedback) that are lacking in many businesses. According to the 2018 Gallup Report, 67% of US workers are “not engaged” and this is often due to a lack of meaningful and effective communication, collaboration and feedback between employees and management. Whether a manager is looking to increase employee engagement and performance or a sales professional is looking to improve their pitch, the need for better tools to develop people skills is clear.

People skills are about behavior. It is one thing to know “what” to do and to have a cognitive understanding of methods for communication, collaboration and feedback. It is a completely different thing (and mediated by a different system in the brain; see below) to know “how” to behave in a way that demonstrates effective communication, collaboration, and feedback. The sales professional with strong people skills shows the correct body language, says the right things, and says them in the right way. The manager or executive with strong people skills can “read” a room, knows what to say to engage employees or to calm fears, and knows how to behave in a way that shows strength but also empathy. Both the sales professional and the executive with strong people skills look effortless in their behavior. It is as if their body is so well trained that they don’t even have to think.

Learning science—the marriage of psychology and brain science—makes clear that a cognitive understanding of people skills and a behavioral understanding of people skills are distinct, and their learning is mediated by different systems in the brain, each of which has unique processing characteristics. The figure below provides an overview of the two main learning systems in the brain, along with the relevant psychological processes, and a schematic of the relevant brain regions.

The cognitive skills learning system in the brain has evolved to learn information and facts (the “what”). Cognitive skill learning relies on working memory and attention and is mediated by the prefrontal cortex in the brain. Processing in this system is optimized when information comes in brief chunks. The behavioral skills learning system in the brain has evolved to learn behaviors (the “how”). Behavioral skill learning does not rely on working memory and attention, in fact, it is known that “overthinking it” hinders behavioral skills learning. Behaviors are learned through gradual, incremental, dopamine-mediated feedback learning in the basal ganglia of the brain. Processing in this system is optimized when behavior is interactive.

Rehearsal’s Collaborative Video-Based Practice Platform Effectively Trains People Skills

People skills are about behavior and thus behavior change is the litmus test. Although many Learning Management Systems (LMS) promise behavior change, the traditional LMS approach to learning is through the cognitive skills learning system. Learners study written content or video that impart information about communication and leadership skills, or demonstrate them with video, but what is lacking is a mechanism for practice, coaching, and collaboration. It is deliberate behavioral practice, coaching and collaboration that engage and train the behavioral learning system in the brain and ultimately lead to behavior change.

Rehearsal’s Collaborative Video-Based Practice platform was built with these considerations in mind. Rehearsal is all about practice, coaching and collaboration. A typical training session in Rehearsal starts by presenting the learner with a contextualized scenario. This could involve a manager needing to address the consistent lateness of an employee, or a sales professional making the case for why a potential client should purchase their product. This sets the stage and provides the important situational context within which behavior is learned. The learner is allowed to videotape themselves practicing as many times as they like. Critically, the practice takes place in a safe and private environment free from evaluation, thus allowing behavioral learning to proceed without cognitive interference. [As an aside, Rehearsal does include “hotseat” scenarios that provide the learner with opportunities to learn under pressure.]. Once satisfied the learner can submit the video for feedback and coaching from peers and managers. The feedback can come in the form of written text, audio or video, as well as ratings of tone, demeanor and confidence. Although the feedback is asynchronous, and does not occur in real-time, it primes the learner for behavior change that can be gained through further video-based practice. In addition, the range of feedback from peers and managers offers a rich broad-based learning context.

The learning platform has many other advantageous features. For example, video training content is organized into channels to provide a flexile space for conversation and collaboration, as well as ease of access. In addition, videos that best represent specific aspects of people skills (e.g., handling on objection, or showing empathy) are curated into best practice categories so that learners can incorporate some of these behaviors into their own behavioral repertoire. Finally, the platform includes audio-only scenarios that allow employees who provide customer service over the phone to practice people skills in an audio-only environment.

Rehearsal’s Collaborative Video-Based Practice platform represents a strong people skills training product that takes advantage of what is known about the brain science of people skills learning. While the learning science makes clear that there is room for improvement, Rehearsal’s Collaborative Video-Based Practice platform effectively engages behavior change systems in the brain and is far superior to the more traditional LMS approach.

I look forward to following Rehearsal as it refines its offering and iterates toward an optimized behavioral training solution. In the meantime, companies looking to improve their employees’ people skills should take a close look at Rehearsal’s Collaborative Video-Based Practice platform. You won’t be disappointed.

About the Author

W. Todd Maddox, Ph.D. is the Research Fellow for Learning Science at Amalgam Insights and the CEO and Founder of Cognitive Design and Statistical Consulting, LLC. His passion is to apply his 25 years of scientific and neuroscientific expertise, gained by managing a large human learning and performance laboratory, to help businesses build better training products.

Ability to Communicate: Enabler, Inhibitor, or Both?

The Endless Art of Communication, by Alana Karen, a 17-year Google employee (yes that’s right, 17 years!) is a candid reflection of feedback received early in her career and the dedication to develop her communication skills ever since. She states three truths when it comes to the importance of communication skills:

    1. Career opportunities are determined by your ability to communicate
    2. Your ability to communicate can also be a career limiter
    3. Improving your communication skills never ends

She points out that a strength can also be a weakness. We may hold a wealth of information but lack the ability to articulate it in a clear and compelling way. There were three things that made a difference in her ability to communicate:

    1. Choosing the most important information to share
    2. Questions from the audience should be taken as feedback to strengthen your message
    3. Prioritize and practice communication skills over and over again

What does this mean to those of us here at Rehearsal where practice is paramount? Everything! A consistent effort spread over time ignites notable change. Alana’s post (and career) illustrate Deliberate Practice, self awareness, and the drive to improve. Congratulations on a stellar career Alana, we will continue to watch and admire you as a power of practice role model.

Coaching Enablement

According to the ATD 2017 State of the Industry report, 45.7% of organizations use on-the-job coaching by managers, which leads us to question the nature of that coaching: is it spontaneous or rehearsed? What is the delivery method? Are they subject matter experts, or simply part of the organizational hierarchy?

Managers are not only imparting knowledge while coaching, but receiving knowledge and developing skills as well. Do they anticipate business situations and preemptively practice coaching skills accordingly? Athletes don’t wait until game time, they break down skills and practice each one in advance, repeatedly. Managers shouldn’t be any different.

When it comes to successful sales enablement initiatives, coaching enablement must be a foundational component. Businesses reach new levels of success when the development trajectory of coaches matches that of players.

Remember, whether a customer service rep, sales manager, or CEO, we are all players in the game of business.

100% Organic, Non-GMO, Free-Range Video Content

No actors, no backdrops, no scripts. This informal approach to video-for-training is deeply engaging and relatable; why? Because it’s natural, it’s real, and it’s human.

For attendees of the DevLearn 2018 Conference and Expo, it was clear that Rehearsal does not create formal video content for the demonstration of its platform; Rehearsal’s content is real. Attendees could relate to the prospect of recording scenarios from their home, office, or anywhere they may be with their smartphones: no actors, no backdrops, no scripts.

Although there is a time and place for formal video content, when your intent is to foster engaging training experiences and to drive behavioral change, it’s necessary to make real content. Despite the convenience and growing reliance on technology, we will always desire a human connection. We FaceTime our family and friends, and we encourage you to develop your skills using the same organic approach.

Are You Stuck in Motion?

James Clear recently wrote on smart people mistaking motion for action. He describes the two as: “Motion is when you’re busy doing something, but that task will never produce an outcome by itself. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will get you a result.”

Although it produces no outcome, motion plays an important part in mastering a skill. For example: preparation by studying or reading about a sales pitch is motion. Delivering that pitch is action.

He goes on to discuss the idea that motion gives us the impression of progress without the risk of failure. This is the reason Rehearsal was meticulously created, to invoke action while providing a safe space to practice your skills without the risk of failure.

Practice is the difference between the motion of traditional training and action.

Take action. Become great.


Technology-Enabled Coaching Can Turn You into a Compassionate Leader

You may think you are doing all of the right things. You coach. You let your team members make mistakes. You show them the “right way”. But is it enough?

The combination of learning from experiences — your own or others, trying new ways to get something right, and willingness to persist while remaining open-minded can be boiled down to some terms we are all quite familiar with: coaching, practice, and endurance. A recent analogy to the well-known tale of the three little pigs gives insight to how this combination can truly mean the difference between surviving and thriving. The article, focused on financial investment behaviors, could quite easily be applied to how we survive and thrive in sales.

According to a recent survey by A Sales Guy and published in Forbes, those who exceeded their sales quotas consistently over a 3 year period were 32.5% more likely to be coached than those who missed quota. Clearly, these salespeople know a good thing when they see it. They see that coaching worked for them and so they continue to be open to feedback and practice. But what about those who did not exceed their quotas? What about the salespeople who were trying to build their careers with hay and weak foundations? The survey suggests that it should not be assumed that these people do not want to be coached toward improvement. In fact, although 82.1% of sales leaders say they coach their salespeople, only 48.2% of salespeople report they are getting coached. Further, according to the report, 66.1% of those people who weren’t coached say they wanted to be.

This leads us to question what we are doing as sales leaders. If you are a sales leader, do you feel you are providing the coaching your salespeople demand? A whopping 40.3% of salespeople don’t believe their sales leader is committed to their personal development. If you fall into this bucket, what can you do to make a shift way from a traditional selling culture focused on a monthly push for numbers and instead comment yourself to truly improving your salespeople?

Today’s workforce is more employee-centric than ever. Employees need to know why they are working, what they are working for, and how their development will be valued now and in the future. Further, as employers, we are dealing with the stress of managing this new employee-centric culture while still grappling with a growing diverse and remote workforce. How can we be all things to all people? There is an answer: technology. Technology alone will not turn your apathetic salesperson into a super-seller but technology in combination with human intervention at the right time and in the right ways, may be exactly what you need. The concept of “Human-Technology Symbiosis” is what sales leaders and leaders in general will need to embrace in order to motivate their team members to a state where they recognize that they are being coached and that the commitment by the manager is not perceived but is real and quantifiable.

At Rehearsal, we strive for human-technology symbiosis. We have designed a video-based platform that lets people practice, receive feedback, and enter into a coaching look. The platform let’s this all happen virtually BUT it keeps the human element at the forefront. We see faces, hear tones, watch motions. Managers are expected to respond thoughtfully through either video or text. And those thoughtful comments instantly convey the commitment our people look for in a good manager, leader, or mentor.

The Littlest Thing You Can Do to Make the Biggest Difference

Start. That’s it. Seems too easy, right?

In this article by habit and practice expert, James Clear, we learn that the process of pursuing excellence results in a set of rewards that may actually be more valuable than those received once you’ve achieved it. The article describes an exchange that James Clear had with tennis pro, Lindsay Davenport. James had the opportunity to ask her a question at an event and he focused his opportunity on how she’s learned or changed from rising the ranks of professional athleticism. She responded first with the concept that fame makes you grow up faster than you may otherwise; but then she described how the path to achieve greatness taught her how to be the best she could be at her craft. James goes on to talk about why simply starting something new — as she did at a young age of 15 years old — can be the best and biggest decision you may ever make toward your pursuit of happiness and betterment because without trying you’ll never know if you have the skills and talent required to be great. Once you are in the game, you can make the decision whether or not to persist and practice and ultimately find yourself achieving things you never thought possible. As James closes the article, he quips “Life is not a dress rehearsal” and we agree. Today, start something new and tomorrow practice it again and — in this life —- you may become something more than you ever imagined. Thanks, James.

A Deliberate Practice Manifesto

Written by Robert Pool, Ph.D.

Everyone has heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule: You need 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at anything. It’s pretty intimidating if you stop to think about it. That’s 4 hours a day, 20 hours a week, 1,000 hours a year—for 10 years. Who has that sort of time? I don’t. You probably don’t either.

On the other hand, best-selling author Josh Kaufman published a book a few years back that promises you can “learn anything” in just 20 hours. Not 20 hours a week for 10 years, or even 20 hours a week for 1 year. Just 20 hours total. You’ve got 20 hours, right?

And what’s really interesting is that both of these claims—Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule and Kaufman’s 20 hours—are talking about exactly the same thing: deliberate practice. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.

But first: Which claim is right? Is it 10,000 hours or 20 hours? Strangely enough, as long as you interpret the two claims correctly, they are both right. What’s more, once you understand what is going on, you are left with a blueprint for how you, or anyone, can excel in most areas of business and life—without devoting your entire life to it.

Here’s how to understand the two very different claims: The 10,000-hour rule is true for the top performers in a field where there is intense competition and training. Think of concert pianists, chess grandmasters, and prima ballerinas. These people truly do put in thousands—or tens of thousands—of hours of practice to get to the top because that’s what their competition is doing. Every world-class concert pianist has practiced for 10,000 hours or more— usually much more. If you want to excel in one of these areas, to be among the best in the world, you have to start young and devote much of your life to becoming great.

Kaufman is talking about something else altogether. Say that you’ve always wanted to ride a unicycle (or speak French or play the ukulele), but you’ve never tried. His point is that with the right sort of practice, 20 hours is enough to get you to a point where you at least won’t embarrass yourself. You won’t be great, but you’ll be doing well enough to get some satisfaction out of it and maybe even impress your friends.

What these two theories have in common is both involve a very powerful approach to training called “deliberate practice.” It is the single best way to get better at something—anything, really—as proven by many years of scientific research. Briefly, deliberate practice involves picking out specific aspects of the skill you wish to improve, doing exercises designed specifically to improve those aspects, getting feedback on your performance, using that feedback to guide further practice, then repeating.

Kaufman’s big idea is to take this powerful training method that classical musicians, chess masters, Olympic gymnasts, and the like use to hone their world-class skills and use it instead when you are first getting started learning something—in the “first 20 hours,” as the title of his book says. Of course, it is not as easy as it sounds. The classical musicians and Olympic athletes who use it in their training have spent years perfecting their deliberate practice techniques, and there is no way a beginner in a field can match their training proficiency. Still, even if it is carried out imperfectly, deliberate practice is so much more effective than the unstructured way most people go about learning something new that the results can seem like magic. For a beginner, 20 hours of deliberate practice is enough to make a huge difference.

So Kaufman is on to something. If you want to learn to play the ukulele or take up wind surfing, try deliberate practice for 20 hours. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you pick it up.

There is a much more powerful message here, and it is aimed at the rest of us—not the rank beginners or those at the very top of their field, but the ones who are just doing okay. Most of us settle into comfortable ruts in our jobs, our leisure activities, and our lives in general. We get to a point where we’re “good enough,” and we coast. We’re not like classical violinists or grandmasters, devoting hours a day to deliberate practice, working hard to get better. Quite frankly, we don’t have to because our peers—the people we’re competing against for jobs and promotions and bonuses—aren’t practicing for several hours a day either. For the most part, they’re just like us—they’ve learned just enough to do the job reasonably well and are coasting, not really getting much better as time goes on.

So imagine what would happen if we got out of our comfortable ruts and applied Kaufman’s “20 hours” to our daily jobs. If 20 hours of deliberate practice can take you from never having wind-surfed to skimming handily over the waves or from not knowing the difference between your sombrero and your cabeza to carrying on a conversation in Spanish, what might it do for your job performance?

It can make a huge difference. Think of it in tennis terms. Suppose you’re a weekend tennis player. You learned enough to serve and return balls, and you and your friends enjoy your friendly games even though none of you are more than just okay. After 10 years of playing weekly, you’re not much better than you were when you started because, let’s face it, you’ve never really tried very hard to get better, and just playing the same way every week does nothing to improve your game.

Now let’s suppose you got inspired by watching Serena Williams in a Grand Slam finals, and you decide you want to get serious. You hire a tennis instructor who says ‘let’s work on your crosscourt forehand’ and for the next ten weeks you spend a couple of hours each weekend focused on just that. Instruction, practice, feedback, repeat.

At the end of those 20 hours, you’re not ready to take on Roger Federer, but you have a new, improved skill that lifts you above the people you’ve been playing with. Your cross-court forehand is a weapon that wins you an extra point or two each game, and now suddenly you’re the best player in your group of friends. It feels good, and now, invigorated, you decide you’re going to spend another 20 hours of deliberate practice on your backhand. And then your serve. And so on . . . .

Now suppose instead of tennis you decide to spend 20 hours of deliberate practice on getting better at your job. You pick out one aspect that could use improvement that will make a difference in your overall performance, and you work on it. You get ideas for practice techniques from a mentor or a more accomplished peer, or maybe you figure out some exercises yourself. The key is to have a clear idea of the skill you’re trying to develop, specific exercises aimed at improving that skill, regular feedback on how you’re doing, and the ability to shape your training in response to the feedback. At the end of the 20 hours, you will see a big improvement. In particular, you will now have an advantage over anyone who has not made this effort.

You see, people’s performance in the business world is much closer to how you and your friends play tennis on the weekend than it is to how Serena Williams and Roger Federer play tennis—people in the business world are not spending hours deliberately practicing, working to improve their skills. In fact, most people in the business world spend almost no time on improving specific skills. They get to a level of acceptable performance and coast, often with the vague assumption that they’ll get better with experience. But they don’t. Research shows that just going in and doing your job every day does very little to help you improve. The only way to see serious improvement is through deliberate practice.

So here is the takeaway message: You can see a surprisingly large improvement in your performance—in your job, in your sports activities, in pretty much anything you do—with a relatively small investment in time. It won’t work if you’re in a highly competitive field where people are spending hours a day on practice—classical music, pro sports, and so on—but those are the exceptions rather than the rule. In most areas of life people just don’t work that hard to get better, and you can set yourself apart by being one of the few who do. I’m not saying it’s easy. Deliberate practice requires thought, focus, and effort, but you’ll be surprised at what you can do with a commitment of just a few hours a week.

There is a young man in California named Max Deutsch who in successive months taught himself to draw a realistic self portrait, solve a Rubik’s cube in under 20 seconds, land a standing back flip, play an improvised blues guitar solo, and hold a conversation in Hebrew. Now, he wasn’t starting from scratch on every one of these skills, nonetheless over the course of a month he was able to develop a striking new skill—month after month.

Deliberate practice opens the door. All you have to do is walk through.

About the Author

Robert Pool, Ph.D., is a writer, speaker, and consultant specializing in deliberate practice and it application. His most recent book, co-written with Anders Ericsson, is Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.

Deliberate Practice: The TOPGUN Approach

Practicing like topgun

Deliberate practice, as defined by author and speaker James Clear, “refers to a special type of practice that is purposeful and systematic. While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.”

Deliberate and purposeful practice is not a new form of training. In fact, it is used around the world and has even impacted history. During the middle of the Vietnam War in 1968, U.S. pilots were losing aerial battles with Vietnam at a 1:1 ratio. This means that these aerial battles, or “dogfights”, were resulting in the loss of one U.S. plane for every Vietnam plane lost. In response to these terrible statistics, the Navy created the TOPGUN school, which utilizes elements of deliberate practice in order to create an advantage for our pilots.

The Navy participated in purposeful practice by selecting pilots to attend the TOPGUN school and act out combat situations with the instructors. They utilized cameras to record their practice fights and reviewed them with the students to provide coaching. This helped the students understand flaws and grow from their mistakes. Over time, deliberate practice taught the students self-criticism, questioning, and quick critical thinking skills that soon became second nature and helped them in real combat situations.

The results from the TOPGUN school’s participation in deliberate practice were extremely successful. Between 1970 and 1973, U.S. pilots were only losing 1 plane per Vietnam’s 12.5 planes. This was an improvement of 1,150%!

Most recently, the principles behind deliberate practice have been explored in depth by Ander Ericsson and Robert Pool in the book Peak where they distill decades of research into a powerful learning strategy.

Rehearsal is committed to developing these same principals of deliberate practice and using them to improve outcomes in the business world. We have an incredible panel of experts we will be working with in 2018 to help develop these ideas into actionable, quantifiable steps for sales enablement, customer service, and leadership development.

Learn, Practice, Repeat

teammates succeeding together

I was at lunch yesterday with a friend to celebrate his recent promotion. He’s a professor. Shortly after we toasted his success, he said that he was moving to Seattle for the year because his college/employer was sending him on a one-year sabbatical: to learn from what others are doing and to practice what he is teaching.

Can you imagine getting a promotion and then being told to leave the office for the year — PAID — on a professional exploration of learning and practice? As the CEO of a fast growing start-up, I know how hard it is to leave the day-to-day for even 5 minutes to reflect, learn, or practice. But I also know that once I commit to practice, I’m getting better. This was never more apparent than my rebrand announcement where I literally practiced the video 25+ times.

All too often, we simply REPEAT; we don’t see any changes but we don’t do anything about it because we are creatures of habit. All too often, we just show up and feel that we have done our part, but is that enough? We are satisfied with the way it is, when we know we can be better.

A leader — someone who is recognized for initiative, insightfulness, trust, and passion — wants to grow, learn and practice. You don’t have to be the CEO of your company to approach work and life like this — you may be the coach for your kids’ soccer team, the organizer for a volunteer event, or the person at your company who wants to make a change. In all cases, if you simply repeat what was, the results will never change. Add learning, openness, and practice to the mix, and then your commitment to repetition will take you places you’ve never been before.

A recent Forbes article stated, “The problem is that many leaders don’t conceive of behavioral leadership as a skill set to be developed the way their technical skills were once developed.” This article focuses on leadership capabilities and suggests that even at the very highest levels of the organization, leaders who practice win.

You can only get better when you dedicate yourself to learning, trying, and practicing. There is no downside to this. But the alternative surely comes with a cost. At Rehearsal, we see this every day. We have proof that practice works and that it results in financial, professional, and personal wins.

Become great.

Rehearsal Presents at Germany’s LEARNTEC


Rehearsal recently presented for a large global audience at the LEARNTEC conference at Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre in Karlsruhe, Germany. The conference was keynoted by learning guru, Elliott Masie, and attended by more than 7,000 participants and 240 exhibitors. Rehearsal had the opportunity to discuss how its technology is pushing learning and coaching to new levels.

Take a look at the presentation and contact Rehearsal to learn more about how you can use its virtual practice platform to increase performance.

I Need My Training “Franchise-Style”

At its core, franchising is about brand value. Brand value flows from the franchisor to the franchisees and then to the customers. So how do you teach brand value? And when your company growth depends (at least partly) on an increase in the number of franchisees, how can you effectively and efficiently teach brand value to multiple general managers and franchisee teams distributed throughout the world?

The most famous franchises in the world boast that training is the key element to ensure brand value and consistency among their franchisees. In franchising, training should be continuous; Classroom training is not viable due to costs and disruptions in day-to-day scheduling and operations. Many franchises are using mobile training to get their franchisee teams up to speed. But, even with mobile and ondemand training, how will you know when your franchisees are ready? How will you know that they can deliver the level of service, passion and commitment that your brand requires?

Rehearsal has solved that problem for a number of its franchised customers. Rehearsal’s mobile-friendly video based practice platform allows for franchisees afar to bring their messages right to the home office. Through a video conversation thread, corporate employees can serve as mentors or coaches and give feedback to the franchisees until everyone is comfortable with the level of performance.

With Rehearsal, companies can ensure that brand value is preserved right from the start and continuously as the franchise builds. If metrics indicate that a franchisee is underperforming, the Rehearsal platform allows for employees to practice toward improvement. Further, the Rehearsal Leaderboard stores videos that have been graded highly and those videos can be shared across franchisees as learning resources.

If your company’s success depends on the perceived value of its brand, training is not enough. Your franchisees need to practice and perform until every location is on message.

Train the Trainer Use Case

“We could have gone with another provider, but the Rehearsal Team went the extra mile to give us everything we needed. That’s how we work and we want to work with partners who are willing to do the same.”


The Challenge

This global learning company trains 100+ associates each year to deliver a signature training program for the company. The signature program reveals individual thinking and behavioral preferences through experiential and interactive learning. As part of the associate training process, each must be reviewed by seasoned coaches to ensure understanding of the content and ability to identify thinking patterns and behaviors of the students in the class. The content in these workshops is personal and can be sensitive so the company must ensure that its trainers are ready and able to do the job accurately and consistently.

Prior to implementing Rehearsal, associate reviews were done in person and through videos sent on flash drives; however, with a growing team and limited resources, the company was forced to find a more scalable solution.

The Solution

After learning about Rehearsal’s technology, the company bypassed a pilot program and went directly into implementation. A group of associates began their training experience using the Rehearsal platform. They were provided with instruction to learn the content of the workshop and then asked to use Rehearsal’s technology to record their best delivery. The response to the technology was very positive.

The Results

Since June 2015, hundreds of associates from North America have used the Rehearsal platform to practice and showcase their training abilities. The coaches find it much easier to pinpoint where feedback is necessary which helps the associates to more quickly improve and get in front of the students for live workshops. Travel needs have been reduced and trainers find the process far more efficient.

Based on the results, the company has now implemented Rehearsal internationally.

A Sales Team Use Case



“A knowledge test is one thing but being able to see people use knowledge and assess what they actually do…that is much more powerful and that’s what Rehearsal allows us to do.”

The Challenge

A major online retailer was looking for effective ways to onboard new associate account executives to its sales team. Its recruiting program is highly selective and only chooses new hires from the best colleges and universities in the U.S. While the recruiting process ensured that these new graduates had the intellect and desire to handle the job, the company had to find a way to train the new hires to master key objectives and handle any customer objections with confidence at any point throughout the sales process.

The Solution

The online retailer built the Rehearsal platform into its launch plans for a cohort of new hires who were fresh out of college. The new hires were trained on a product and then asked to record their “pitch” for that product using the Rehearsal platform. The pitch had to be no more than two minutes in length and needed to address the benefits of the product and why the product would make a difference for the customer. Their “pitch” was then replied to by a role play of a customer objecting to the pitch. From there, the new hire would have to use what was learned in the sales training program to respond with a remedy for that objection. In all, each new hire was responsible to complete 12 role plays — each addressing a different objection. All role plays were graded against a standard set of criteria and by a group of sales managers and executives.

The Results

The company evaluated the Rehearsal platform based on three areas: user experience, engagement, and “lift” in performance. The students described the user experience as supportive of their busy lifestyles as it allowed them to train anytime, anywhere. Each student was asked to complete 12 role play scenarios — all students completed all 12 scenarios. As for “lift”, by watching the students’ performance videos, they could see where the group struggled and were able to quickly adapt training materials to make immediate adjustments in performance.

The company is now broadening this program to the North American Sales force of approximately 200 employees. The Rehearsal platform will be integrated into the onboarding plan for new salespeople and become part of the accreditation process for existing salespeople. Going forward, a salesperson will receive a certificate of completion that not only shows the student attended a training session but that there exists proof that the student knows now to apply what was learned and to a standard that the company expects.

How many times did Colonel Sanders try to sell his fried chicken recipe?


We found this. We love this. Here’s why. We run a company based on practice. Every time we give a demo or discuss our technology with a new client, we are asked: “On average, how many times does someone record a response before they submit a final version?” We can tell you that answer: It’s 6.

But the beauty is not in that number. The beauty lives in what happens next: trying again. The Rehearsal technology works to combine practice with coaching. The process should be cyclical and should be evaluated either by reaching an expected level of performance (as deemed by the organization or manager) or by seeing continuous improvement. Maybe you have defined specific outcomes for yourself that will indicate that you made. Sly Stallone wasn’t going to stop trying until his Rocky script was sold with him as the main character. It took 1500 tries!

Maybe you are trying to get through a presentation without speaking too quickly or without ever saying “um”. It may take 6 times. It may take 100. But with Rehearsal, you’ll know when you’ve made it and you’ll have the documentation to prove that you’ve done it and the confidence to know you can do it again.

Maybe you are trying to make a big sale. When it’s a big deal, do you stop with the very first “No”? Of course not. But you certainly don’t go back again with the same approach, pitch, or message. You create a new one and you practice it. It may take 6 times. It may take 100. But when you finally get the sale, you’ll know exactly what you looked like and how it sounded because with Rehearsal you’ll have it documented. And better yet, you can share what worked with others on your team. Or show your manager exactly how it happened. If the founder of stopped at the 299th try, you may never have had the chance to listen to Michael Jackson all the time, every day, and on every device you own.

Practice matters. All the good ones do it. How many times will you try?

Your Harshest Critic May be You…So Get Over Yourself!

Written by Darik Volpa

I saw this article in HRB so I assumed it was credible and timely but what I found is that it is incredible and timeless. In a group of 10 people, maybe half will say they never want to speak in a public arena, two or three may say they are ok with it if they have to do it, and the remaining are your budding thespians who get on the stage and in front of a mic whenever they can. But here’s what I find incredible….you are still afraid of what you’d look like or sound like or say once you walk up to address the mic?

I get fear of the lights shining on you; fear of tripping up the stairs or on the carpet as you walk into the presentation room; fear of a bad AV connection — those are random occurrences and you’ll have to deal with them at some point. But you know what shouldn’t be random? 


In the generation of #selfies, do you really not know what you look like? And I mean doing everything…I have seen what Gwen Stefani looks like when she wakes up in the morning and even President Obama was caught practicing his smile and his wink, “Things Everybody does but Doesn’t Talk About”.

So to many the fear is, like Teddy and his successors have said as recently as at last night’s DNC Convention #HRC, fear itself. You no longer have to fear how you’ll “show up” in the arena. You don’t have to worry about mumbling, misconstruing words, missing the message, or licking your lips 50K times in a 30-minute presentation. Why? Because you have technology that will handle that. Specifically, you have practice technology called Rehearsal.

Whether your anxiety shows up when you have to speak in front of tens of thousands, present to a group of co-workers, or meet with a new prospect, you don’t have to fear anything because you can practice EVERYTHING. Fear is what you make it and only you can let it grow and take over. Or you can take control of it. Put yourself in the hot seat — no one needs to be watching — you are your harshest critic after all…so get over yourself. Let Rehearsal help you to show the world who you really are. 

Go forward my fearless friends.

About the Author

Alice Heiman

Darik Volpa is a passionate entrepreneur. He’s started two successful software companies including and Rehearsal VRP. Prior to this, Darik had a successful 10-year career at Stryker Corporation in various sales and marketing roles.

Virtual -vs- Visual: Don’t Wait For It

Written by Darik Volpa


My favorite paragraph from a recent article in HuffPo:

“As companies constantly look to get ahead in terms of productivity and operational effectiveness, there is an outstanding need for ingenuity. Using VR as a mental rehearsal tool is not one that is still widely known. Becoming the first to use it could result in great success. Those who don’t innovate tend to fall behind. As we obsess about workplace performance, increasing it through this unique tactic could be the step in the right direction.”

Awane Jones, partner at Merchlar and thought leader in digital marketing and author of “How VR Can Help Executives Rehearse For Big Moments”, is right about a few things:

  • First movers tend to gain the greatest reward.
  • Those companies that don’t innovate tend to fall behind.
  • Virtual reality is not widely known.

So I ask you: What is widely known? What is available to let you rehearse for that workplace performance we demand of our employees and of ourselves? It’s Rehearsal. And the first movers are gaining the greatest reward. And those companies that are not practicing with visual recognition, creating “hotseat” environments for practicing workplace behaviors, and giving constructive and managed feedback – are falling behind.

You don’t have to go very far to see the evidence:

  • Allstate
  • Amazon
  • Verizon
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Abbvie

Some of the world’s largest companies are turning webcams on their own employees — not to see what they are doing wrong but instead to help them make it right…make it better.

If swimmer Michael Phelps gained a competitive edge by visualizing every aspect of his race, what can your employees gain by seeing themselves present, practicing how they may answer a tough prospect question, or by finding a new angle to an old challenge because they had the chance to see someone else do it differently?

If a virtual-reality trained surgical resident performs gall bladder surgery more accurately and 29% faster by seeing what he or she does and improving upon that work, why wouldn’t your employee sell faster, find ways to be more profitable, or create new solutions for old problems, if he just had the opportunity to see himself?

You don’t need to wait for virtual reality technology. That is an excuse. We have what you need to see exactly what you are doing. Get better now. No excuses. 

About the Author

Alice Heiman

Darik Volpa is a passionate entrepreneur. He’s started two successful software companies including and Rehearsal VRP. Prior to this, Darik had a successful 10-year career at Stryker Corporation in various sales and marketing roles.

Five Tips from Kouzes and Posner. We Couldn’t Agree More.

An excerpt from “For Leadership, Like Everything Else, Practice Makes Perfect” by Roger Trapp, Forbes

We couldn’t agree more with the five fundamental principles that sit at the heart of Kouzes and Posner’s approach to leadership. We hope you take some time to read these and when you are ready to put them into action, we’re here to help:

  1. Believe In Yourself. Kouzes and Posner stress the importance of having a strong belief in your capabilities and a mindset that leadership can be learned. This is not to be confused with arrogance or being convinced they know it all. Indeed, Kouzes and Posner  are adamant that “the best leaders are the best learners.” These leaders believe that they are capable of learning and developing throughout their lives and so continuous learning becomes a way of life for them.
  1. Aspire To Be Great. This is related to the first fundamental in that the authors assert that leaders need to know who they are and what is important to them. “You can’t lead others if you don’t know yourself,” they say. Aspiring to be great also – obviously – requires being concerned about the future and realizing that “who you are today is not who you will be in the future, and the same is true for your constituents.” At the same time, leaders need to acknowledge that this is not just about the leader’s personal aspirations. “Leadership requires you to know and appreciate your constituents,” say Kouzes and Posner.
  1. Challenge Yourself To Grow. Would-be leaders need to take the initiative in their own development. Although there will inevitably by setbacks and failures, “grit, courage, and resilience” will enable individuals to overcome them and persist in learning and becoming the best they can be.
  1. Engage The Support Of Others. Everybody who achieves excellence receives support and coaching along the way. And leaders are no different. They need the advice, care and support of others. For this reason, a key part of learning leadership is making connections in a network of resources. Leaders also need honest feedback on how they are progressing or growing and on what still needs to be done.
  1. Practice Deliberately. Kouzes and Posner’s final fundamental stresses that it is not enough just to be a leader. “You have to spend time practicing the skills.” This involves setting goals, participating in activities designed to enhance performance, seeking feedback and receiving feedback. “You also have to put in the time every day and make learning leadership a daily habit,” write Kouzes and Posner.

Practice (Rehearsal) Makes Perfect

Written by Larry Israelite

Like most people of a certain age, handwriting was a major focus of my early childhood education. It was not, to say the least, one of my strengths.  My teachers were persistent, reminding me on an almost daily basis, that practice makes perfect. If I kept at it – if I practiced more – my handwriting would continually improve.   

As it turned out, this may have been the example that proved the rule (I am, still, barely able to sign my name). But the concept of practice was ubiquitous when I grew up. I recited my spelling words out loud, letter by letter, completed multiplication worksheets until my fingers (and mind) ached and recited, repeatedly, the state capitals. I also went to baseball practice, practiced my trumpet (perhaps another bad example) and attended play rehearsal. While many of these activities continue to occupy the time of our youth, the most compelling contemporary example may be gaming, on which our children (and some of our friends, I expect) spend countless hours perfecting their techniques and increasing their point totals.  

Certainly, throughout elementary and high school, and even in college, there was an expectation that we would practice frequently, an explicit understanding that our skills will improve as a direct result, and feelings of guilt, inadequacy and remorse if we weren’t able to find the time to practice or, as in my earlier examples, practice didn’t yield the expected results. It was just how things were. And we accepted it.  

This steadfast belief in practice wasn’t created by psychologists or learning theorists, such as Skinner, Gagne’, Piaget or Maslow and wasn’t the result of the rigorous scientific research they and others conducted. At best, they simply confirmed something that we have known since the middle 1500’s, when the phrase ‘use makes perfect’ was first used – the more we do something the better at it we get, especially when there is an expert around to give us guidance and feedback.

In the work place, things are a little different. Our ability to practice is, at the very best, limited, and subject to the good will of our managers and the kindness of colleagues, coaches and mentors. For technical skills, training continues to offer safe opportunities to practice and learn. That used to be the case for skills that involve human interaction – so called ‘soft skills.’  Multi-day training programs, during which we had the opportunity to practice new skills, were commonplace. Now they are less so.

Today, classroom programs are shorter, if they are available at all and, and they are heavy on content and light on practice. A substantial amount of corporate training is delivered over the web. And while web-based programs can be incredibly creative and engaging, skill practice predominantly involves demonstrating that we know what to do or say in specific situations or that we recognize the right behavior when we see it demonstrated by others.  They rarely, if ever, include activities that require us to demonstrate that we can actually do something. And for work tasks that require us to engage with others, that kind of practice is absolutely critical.

The good news is that there is a solution. There are several trends that make possible the addition of the missing link in web-based training – meaningful practice for skills that, simply put, require us to speak to and engage with others.  To be specific, there now is:

  • A camera in virtually every device we use – phones, tablets and laptops
  • Universally available high speed internet
  • Inexpensive cloud storage for video files
  • General comfort with the creation of personal videos that can be viewed by others (and yes, this even extends to many boomers, generational stereotypes notwithstanding).
  • General acceptance that providing and receiving feedback electronically is a viable alternative to face-to-face discussions and communication.

As a result, technology platforms exist that allows us to learn new interactive skills through traditional eLearning and then practice applying those skills in a way that fully replicates what used to happen in the classroom. One such system is Rehearsal ( Imagine the following:

  • We engage in a learning activity, which could comprise completing an eLearning module or simply reviewing a written process or task list. We then read a description of, or view a short video that describes, a scenario which requires a verbal response. We also might see a short video of an expert performing the same skill we are about to practice.  
  • Using Rehearsal, we practice what we have learned by recording an appropriate response to the scenario. We review the video and then either record it again (and again) until we are satisfied with our work.
  • The video is delivered to a coach (a manager, a mentor, a peer) who reviews, evaluates and comments on our videos. The coach then approves the video or suggests a re-do.
  • We review the coach’s comments and then either record a new video or move on to the next practice scenario.
  • Using a community leader board, the coach also has the ability to make the video available to other learners as an example of what ‘good’ looks like.

And because the entire experience is virtual, learners and coaches are bound by neither location nor time.

Since the early 1980’s eLearning designers have struggled with their inability to fully recreate the classroom experience through technology. By providing web-based video practice and feedback, Rehearsal has, finally, solved this problem and done so in a way that is efficient, effective, repeatable and enjoyable – words that any L&D professional or business leader loves (and longs) to hear.

About the Author

Larry Israelite

Larry Israelite was born and raised on a small chicken farm in Upper Black Eddy, PA. Since moving to the big city, he has spent more than 35 years trying to answer two simple questions: how can we do better business thorough learning and how can we enable better learning through technology. Larry has worked in a variety of industries in senior learning and talent management roles, most recently serving as the vice president of learning and development at the Liberty Mutual Group and the head of assessment development at Smarterer and Pluralsight. He has edited three books, including Lies About Learning and More Lies About learning, the last of which was published in 2015 by ATD Press. Always wanting to be on the bleeding edge, Larry completed his coursework for PhD in Educational Technology a scant three months before the release of the first IBM PC. His degree was awarded two year later.

Simon Says It Takes Practice

Written by Geoff Curless
VP Sales, Rehearsal

Being human takes practice

Rehearsal recently exhibited at the ATD International Conference & Exposition. We were fortunate enough to have some of our team members attend the keynote presentation delivered by Simon Sinek. He kept using the word, “Practice”. It made me excited because that’s what we do. We offer the learning community, well…moreover…we offer people who want to get better…a place to practice and be coached on workplace topics, issues, and challenges.

Each time Simon said the word, “Practice”, I felt my heart race. I wanted to grab the mic and tell everyone that just yards away from this stage on the Expo floor was a company that would give them the chance to practice – just like Simon says to do!

I didn’t Kanye West my way onto the stage. Instead, I tweeted some Simon-isms on our Twitter page and then I let the whole experience sink into my overwhelmed conference brain. Like with many exciting moments, the ideas that spark the excitement fade after some time. Sometimes you even question what got you so excited in the first place. But not this time. In fact, this time it wasn’t the excitement that continued, it was instead my confidence in how Rehearsal could help every person in that audience and all of those people out there who make it their responsibility to make others better at what they do.

I found this article. Well, I found many articles as I searched for how Simon described “practice” at work. In every case, I challenged myself to make the connection between Simon’s philosophy and how Rehearsal could make it a reality. The reason I chose this article in particular is because each of the three things that Simon identifies as a “thing” that makes a leader…well, none of them are typically things you imagine practicing, especially in front of a web cam. But what I found is that each is, in fact, practicable. See how…my notes are in red and what follows is an excerpt of a recently published article on


People like to be around people they trust–it’s as simple as that. “Humans are constantly assessing people and organizations around them, and if they feel they’re selfish, they’ll keep a safe distance,” said Sinek. On the other hand, people tend to want to associate with people and brands characterized by an element of selflessness. Creating that human connection–building trust–is key, though it does take time. Just remember: You’re responsible for setting that tone, Sinek warned. [Here is it…TONE! Do you know how you deliver a message? How would you even know? Sometimes we take for granted that our intentions are received, but our tone may not convey the message we intend. You can practice your tone. But you can only do so once you have seen and heard yourself deliver a message. With Rehearsal, you can see yourself ask a very common and simple question like, “How are you doing this morning?” Or more complicated messages like, “I’m worried about your performance lately. Can we talk?” And best of all, you can have others view your video and give you feedback. You can keep practicing until you deliver the tone you intend to be received.] “When the environment is one of a leader who [will] sacrifice, the way people respond is by sacrificing in return. Being a leader is a lifestyle decision; it means you’re willing to take care of others.” 


Speaking of taking care of others, Sinek added, “the more we do good for each other, the more we want to do good for each other.” He recounted the time he picked up loose papers for a man when he saw them slip out of his bag. The man was grateful, but Sinek said his actions went further than that. They motivated someone who saw them to do something kind. Kindness begets kindness, Sinek went on. [So how do you create contagiously repeatable leadership examples? Have you ever wondered how you can change the way you do something so to encourage others to follow your lead? Simple. Practice! Instead of opening a meeting with your agenda, why not practice asking others to build the agenda with you? Practice letting Dana start the meeting by telling about her latest client interactions and then ask how you can help her better support her client’s needs. What could happen next is that other members on your team will stop questioning the work their co-workers do and instead ask how they can help support each other better.]  It’s holding the door for someone, making a new pot of coffee, and letting someone into your lane. Putting others ahead of yourself–“that is the practice of leadership,” he said. 

Grace under fire 

Stress and anxiety are enough to make people dishonest and to sabotage their performance at work. When your body is flooded with cortisol, or the chemical that produces anxiety, “you biologically restrict empathy and trust,” Sinek said. Don’t be that kind of boss–if you’re the one inducing fear and anxiety in your employees, you’re never going to have their trust. [You just learned that one of your product lines is going to fall short of its revenue goal by more than 20%…that means no bonus for you and possible staff cuts. You are livid and you want someone to blame. You also know that your temper gets the best of you but you still call an immediate and mandatory meeting of your team and open with one question: “Who is responsible for this?” as you point to the declining trend line on the white board. What have you done??? This didn’t have to happen. You can use Rehearsal to practice your responses to some of the toughest office challenges. You can turn moments that would typically destroy team culture into moments that strengthen culture. It’s up to you.] The solution is clear: Work on managing your own stress and “be the leader you wish you had,” he said. Your team will appreciate it. 

Are you ready to practice? Are you ready to be the best leader you can be? You can be the best. You can all be the best — with practice.

About the Author

Geoff Curless

Geoff has a professional history of quickly accelerating growth for start-up software companies and inspiring mature companies to sell strategically and with greater visionary aspirations. During his career, he has presented complex software and technologies to customers and partners in ways that promote the benefits and usability of the products and services. He has managed sales teams, key partnerships, and comprehensive sales and marketing plans for software companies serving all industries.