Sales Onboarding In a Virtual Realm
The Cloudflare sales team is located around the world. Learn more about the process and lessons on how we moved from a 1-week, in-person Sales Bootcamp to a completely virtual experience
Hi everyone, welcome to Cloudflare TV. Welcome to it being broadcast from my kitchen stroke living room.
So my name is Sarah Meyer. I am in London, forgive the accent, and I'm helping on the sales enablement team here.
So that means I'm looking after our sales new hires, I'm helping them to get acquainted with Cloudflare, the products that we sell, and some of the customers that we're lucky enough to be working with.
During this segment, which I think a lot of other companies have had to deal with, is how do we take onboarding from a place that used to happen in poor brick walls and move it to now something that's taking place in living rooms and in our homes and still have some of those connections take place.
So this is probably the first time since this new realm of working has taken place that I'm not actually able to see some of the people that are on this.
So if you're watching this, please do feel free to ask any questions that you have.
It'd be good to interact with it because I think that's probably one of the biggest challenges that we've had as we've transitioned to onboarding in a virtual realm.
How do we keep that engagement going across for the people that are a part of this part of this journey with us.
So we're gonna look at a little bit of what used to be, what it is now, how kind of the process was that we went to do it, what we're learning, and what are some of the things that if you have any ideas too, would love to hear them from there.
So let's now just start with it from there. One of the things that you are going to notice is I am using something that's called Jamboards.
I think that's first and foremost was one of the challenges we saw was how do we take something that is virtual and not have it just be a whole bunch of PowerPoint slides.
So we are going to be using Jamboards. It's something that we've found to use and if you have anything else that you are finding that is working well for you, I would love to be able to hear it.
So let's start with what boot camp used to look like.
For us, it would be something that we would ever get the chance to go to San Francisco, go to our headquarters.
They would get to experience Cloudflare.
It was set up there for it. So everyone would be able to go to San Francisco for the sales team specifically.
We had someone that was dedicated to just the onboarding of our sales team.
They would do all the programs for it.
All of also the speakers were ready and set up in San Francisco. It also gave the new hires a really good chance to interact and get to know some of the other team members that they would be working with either directly or indirectly for it.
And I think as we've heard people come back, probably the things that they're missing is just the people you'd bump into in the hallway.
Potentially you're going and getting a coffee and getting to speak to someone that happens to be on the legal team that maybe in three, four months time that you'd be working with as you're negotiating a contract with a customer.
So it's those small interactions that were really valued and were really unique part of doing the onboarding in San Francisco there.
With that announced, onboarding now looks something a little bit more like this, what we're on right now.
It's a conference call. It's using video hangouts.
So what it kind of looks like now, and this is, we're going to see if this works.
One thing that we've been doing is just using sticky notes and things and jam boards to brainstorm what it actually looks like now.
So what it looks like is a lot of video calls for it from there.
What we're doing now and trying to drive that engagement.
Sadly, probably a little bit too many that we want, but recorded videos.
That's a bad spelling by me.
So recorded videos, what were some of the onboarding that was happening before and what are some of those sessions that could be taking place for it?
So a lot of Zoom breakouts, if you haven't used those yet, highly recommend it.
Zoom breakout rooms. They are something where you can take a large group of people and divide them into smaller groups.
So Zoom breakouts has been a brilliant way for us to help to do it.
And we'll go into that in a little bit more detail.
So what else does it actually look like now? It's being able to have a lot of distractions too.
I think that's something that we've noticed is there's home distractions.
It can be everything from a cat flying across the screen, which might happen here, I'll apologize in advance, to having Internet issues.
Like Internet sometimes doesn't always work for everyone.
So how do we work around that for it from there?
And then how do also like, it looks like now where you don't know kind of what your colleagues actually, you can see them on video, but you are missing that peer-to-peer interaction and the coffee talk.
So kind of just those hallway chats are, what is it, a challenge and they're having to happen virtually or from there.
So how do those hall chats happen virtually? And we'll go into that in a little bit more detail for it.
So what was the advantages of looking before of getting to have those chats that connected with the wider cloud player community and just having all the support resources ready to go in San Francisco has now all been kind of removed.
And so it went, okay, did look like that.
It now looks like this. What was the actual process that happened to get us from point A to point B?
So when we were looking at this, it was starting to be looking at what areas, what areas do we need really to make this work in a virtual realm?
So first and foremost was equipment. What do we actually mean by equipment here?
This is making sure that people potentially have computers. Do they have something that they can actually do their job?
For us here, having a computer is crucial.
It's also something that allows to have the virtual onboardings actually take place because if you don't have a computer, you probably can't do a zoom call or Google hangout or any other form of video chat and have it being able to connect with people from there.
So computers. Also then is how do you get access to just the internal systems?
So the systems that we use day in and day out.
Systems needed to do their job.
For in sales, it's something there where it's ideas of like phones.
We have to talk to people. So how do we get phones and phone numbers to people that are now in a remote realm or from there?
Then it's also looking at format and we'll dive into format and a lot more in just a minute, but let's look at that here is format.
As we know what works in a classroom, what works when you can be sitting down next to someone is much more challenging when that person is now 20 miles away from you and we're just getting connected like this.
So it's the format of the sessions themselves.
It's the format of actually the flow of the day.
How does when before you can maybe have a session that connected from one to another and the flow worked because it relied on building information from one point to another.
How do we change that to be in a virtual realm?
So the actual flow of the sessions or flow of the days was one area that we needed to be looking at from there.
And then the idea with format and what we've learned significantly is just this idea of Zoom fatigue or video fatigue, whatever format you're using is how do we build a format that makes sense to go so people aren't just staring at their computer screens completely and in reality, they are sometimes, but how does it work so they don't get just fatigue of constantly just being there in their same four walls going with it from there.
So video fatigue is another thing that we were looking at.
Then another area that we're looking at is engagement.
So how do we actually go and get them engaged with the people that are both in their teams?
Let's kind of talk about that for a moment.
So we need to be looking at engagement with their local teams.
How do we look to do engagement? Let's change that. It's just prettier having it be a different color for it.
Let's go orange with that one. How do they get engagement with their local teams?
How do they get engagement with, so we're here based in London, how do they get engagement with the London office or their more regional office?
And then finally, how do they get engagement with the wider Cloudflare teams?
Or from there.
So that was kind of, as we looked at it at a very high level, some of the things that we were breaking down to go, okay, we need to go from what was a very well-oiled machine of something that was in San Francisco and working well to take it to this virtual realm and take it at a regional level for it from there.
And so looking at equipment, format, and engagement.
So let's look at these in a little bit more detail from it.
So format. Before I actually jump into format, I'll keep it on here for a moment.
We were very lucky. Our IT team here stepped up brilliantly to go, okay, how do we actually get the equipment from where it is to the people there?
Onboarding now is becoming a massive thing and we're getting computers to people, we're getting it so they can be able to easily go and get their computers, have a day or two being set up, doing a lot of virtual sessions and sharing screens, but they have the computers they need, they have the systems that they need, they have the phones that are there and we're just shipping it to them so they can be doing it remotely wherever that home is for them from there.
Then let's be looking at now a little bit more on the format side of it.
So format. We have three different time zones that we're working with.
So that was the first thing that we had to be looking at was the three different time zones.
For us, that is APAC, predominantly Singapore, but also we'll have hires in our Sydney office as well and potentially our Beijing office.
Then we also have EMEA, but that's not just one time zone. So we'll have new hires potentially in our Munich office and also in our London office.
So we have two different time zones right there.
Then with Namer in North America and on that we have offices in New York, in Chicago, in Austin, in San Francisco.
So almost every single time zone in the U.S.
we're also dealing with there. So that was first thing is how do we look at three different time zones and this little grid right here was kind of how a bunch of us looked at it to go what time zones potentially overlap with each other.
How can we still have that cross collaboration across the different time zones so they can get the connection across a bit.
So looking here and I'll make it a little bit, I won't make it a little bit bigger, but this is where you can see is we looked at what was the time zone in Singapore and also day of the week for it because what is Thursday evening San Francisco is Friday morning Singapore time.
So what was happening in Singapore? What then was also happening in London?
What was happening in the central time zone in the U.S. and then what was happening in San Francisco?
Everything here was highlighted sections or highlighted times that we could potentially put a session in that allowed the reps to have collaboration across the time zones.
So that was another thing as we were looking at the format is we wanted to keep allowing it to be a time that the reps could still have a connection across their office.
So that was another key thing as we were thinking about that format.
So connection beyond the office.
This also gave us something to look at of the resources that we had because we weren't used to doing these onboardings in the regional offices.
It was all taking place in San Francisco.
We had to be careful of the actual speaker resources that we had and did we have all the skills that we needed to because we didn't want people in these regional offices to just be watching videos all day.
That's really boring and there's no engagement for it from there. So by overlapping the time zones and doing some kind of mental math of figuring out which time zones could potentially work that we could have a session that could work for Singapore and London was one of the key things that we did.
So that was step one is actually looking at the format that we are looking at the time zones that were potentially relevant for it.
So identifying those. Second was then now that we had this we had to look at the actual sessions that were taking place.
So like I mentioned we had the sessions that were in there and what would work really well in the classroom was now going does that work in a virtual realm.
So it was identifying and looking at every session of sales boot camp and as you can imagine in sales boot camp it is a lot of figuring out who are some of the great companies that we get to be working with and who within those companies do we get a chance to have conversations with.
So that in a realm when you're working side by side with people in a classroom you can do a lot of whiteboarding.
So how do we take whiteboarding and making it virtual.
So looking at every session and seeing basically just asking ourselves can this work as it is or does it need to be removed or can it be changed.
And so we are looking at every session and basically asking ourselves that exact question is is it something that could be working is it something that needs to be removed or can it be changed.
And that was as we looked at it there was a lot of sessions that we found could still be done but the way that we delivered them needed to be changing.
So we'll go to that in just a moment. And then there were some that we found were just too repetitive.
When you're in a classroom and you're working together with some people having that repetition is okay.
We quickly found after doing it the first one that in a virtual realm that repetition just gets really boring and monotonous.
So we were quickly after kind of the first or second time doing it is we started to continue to remove sessions that seemed to be an overlap so or duplication.
Then the next thing so we looked at the actual sessions themselves to see could they work or could they not work.
Some of the formatting the way that we made some of those changes to the actual sessions was doing a lot of this.
So it's trying to remove PowerPoint slides as much as possible and using some things like jam boards has been a great one that we are using.
Also just actually using the breakout rooms.
So like I was saying before so zoom breakout rooms this allowed us so jam boards allow us to do basically what we're doing now is to build out something so they don't just know how it's going to be and the people can interact and they have to say what they think is next.
So for example as you're building out the sales process instead of it just having it be on a slide we were doing it in a way that asks the new hires what they think is potentially next and who are the key team members that are going to be involved in that stage of the sales process from there.
We would build out something like that in the jam boards. But the other thing is breakout rooms.
So let's say you're having them do some sort of exercise and do some research on maybe some of the Cloudflare products and you want them to do a presentation.
The breakout rooms allowed it to be an easy way for us to put maybe three to five people in a group have them work together for 15 minutes.
You can do different prompts to them in those breakout rooms to say please check this about the potential product or don't forget to include something about what the value is to the customer.
It also allows you to bring people back in to the main room without them having to switch back and forth between two or three different like Google Hangouts or Zoom meetings from there.
It also allows to have more random groups of people so it's a very easy way to not have to figure out who should who should I put into this breakout group.
Zoom just takes care of it for you.
So jam boards and Zoom breakout rooms are two things that we've found that have actually worked really well on the delivery of it and as we've been looking at the different sessions.
The other thing when we think about the format was the actual flow of the day.
So what do I mean by that simple pop that back up here is how the day actually connects together.
So as we talked we did it we've kind of gone through multiple different iterations of this now.
I think we've had about five or six different boot camps but what became very clear is the flow of the day for us.
So and what I mean by that is if we have them maybe look at product one product two product three and we're looking at ways that those sessions can overlap across the different time zones.
What would be the morning for London would be the afternoon for Singapore.
Can we do it in a way that makes sense to have a session that wouldn't interrupt the learning so everyone would have the same or enough learning to be able to accomplish that task and one group wouldn't be frustrated because they were a day ahead of the other one.
So that was again took some mental math. So we would look at all the different types of sessions that we would want to do in a day and see which ones that we could actually which ones didn't matter for sure if it happened in the morning or in the afternoon and it would be the same amount of learning across both of them.
So that is what we did when we were looking at this different schedule and the flow of the day.
We quickly learned that this session could be in the morning or the afternoon and it would be okay and if people came in and they were either starting or ending their day it wouldn't have a detrimental impact on the learning that they would have and it wouldn't put them at an unfair advantage for it from there.
So flow of the day was the other key thing that we would be looking at for it from there.
The other thing I'll end on with the format side of it is also having them do much more self -reflection.
So as we're looking at the self-reflection side of it is what we've learned quickly is people it's okay for them to engage with a video on doing something like this.
It's okay for them to engage in a smaller group but also having them do a specific exercise on their own time and then come back as a group maybe an hour later or two hours later has actually become really good and has allowed them to process the information on their own.
So just doing individual assignments as well. So besides doing group assignments, trying to use jam boards, what's actually surprised us is having them do some individual assignments as well has been very influential on it from there.
I think looking after everything, I think that's the main things I want to cover on the format side of it.
Last thing I'll just put on here just to make sure that's very clear is that it was the overlapping of the sessions.
Last thing too is for if anyone's actually watching this and curious how we figured out the resource side of it is we looked at all the different sessions and then were able to identify speakers in the different regions or for ones where speakers weren't in place, then we did actually go with recorded sessions for them but then had some sort of both introduction or follow-up to those recorded sessions and a place that people could if they were watching it could be able to ask questions if they had to of the presenter maybe if it was just in a different time zone.
So for every single onboarding class we've also set up a just a chat room with them that they can ask any questions that they have and if need be we can also put in the speakers of the sessions or in a way to get the answers for them if they if it's in a completely different time zone.
So someone in Singapore has a question of someone that presented something on a video from San Francisco on it from there.
So that's kind of how we went with the format side of it. Then let's look at engagement.
So as we mentioned before we were looking at engagement with their local team or from there with their actual local office or local location and then also with just the wider Cloudflare community.
Let's look at some ideas that we've done and again it's great to hear what other people are actually finding working because we're definitely figuring this out one day at a time for it.
So local team. So some of the things that have been working well here is there is just a lot of them are doing morning and afternoon stand-ups.
So what's actually going on, what's the what are they working, what are maybe some challenges that they have or for the new hires for them to just ask questions of like I think someone showed me this document here can anyone help me find this again or I still can't actually figure out these filters in my email can someone help me with this.
So it's been allowing them to connect with their local teams.
The other thing is a lot of the teams are doing some sort of either like pub quiz or maybe Friday drinks or morning coffees.
So these are some of the things that we're finding that's working well for them to connect with their local teams or from there.
Then it's at the local office. So our London office is we have a number of people here so it's how do we get them to connect not just with their local teams but how do we get them connected also the larger office deciding that from there.
We're kind of starting to adopt some of these same sort of ideas.
When it first happened we did a lot of like let's do some lunches and let's let's figure out some talks that are working and stuff that we were doing in the office before it closed but found it's just different in a virtual realm and it didn't work as much.
So a couple of things that we are finding is again doing a pub quiz about once or twice a week for it and having different people host it has been fun and there's been some really good banter that has happened 15, 20 minutes, 30 minutes and gets them away from their actual desk or from there just kind of a change of scenery as it happens.
Then as we go into the other one is something that we're trying to do.
Again this is using the same Zoom breakouts is something that's coffee with new hires.
So far it's working we'll see if it continues to. This is just a way for us to have the new hires get to speak with some of the people on the team.
So again we'll have them come in about 30 minutes every other week and they simply come in ask we'll put it in to make sure that there's a new hire or two in different breakout groups and it's necessary they can be new for us is new of anyone that has started in this virtual realm.
So having them be able to just ask questions so maybe again going what has been your experience or talk to me about the office since I haven't been able to see it yet.
I think that's the interesting thing is we're now getting to a point that some people have been interviewed and hired and onboarded completely virtual so they haven't maybe had the chance to step into one of the physical offices yet.
So it's a chance for them to get to ask questions and see what's kind of just good advice also from people not only in their team but the wider local office as well and so far those things are going going okay.
Again if anyone has any ideas it'd be great to hear a little bit more. And then the wider Cloudflare community.
So through the onboarding side they are onboarded with people across all the different offices so that has helped just purely on the onboarding they are with people from across our offices.
Then the other thing is we do have some like normal kind of all hands meetings that happen and allows them connect with the wider London or the wider Cloudflare team and allows them to just kind of be a part of it.
Plus I know some of them have started to take part in this like Cloudflare TV and maybe if they need any extra help or anything they're helping to volunteer there.
So that has worked on the engagement at the kind of three different levels for it.
So in the last couple minutes let's summarize some of the things that is working and some of the things that are not working so well on it.
So what we're finding is working well is simply having that connection with the local teams.
So and kind of a bonus of this is they're able to do that earlier because before they would be onboarding and going to San Francisco to do the onboarding.
That means they didn't get to really connect with their local team until they came back.
So they're able to start to establish those connections much sooner.
So that's one thing that's been actually a really good positive coming up out of it from there.
The other one is actually getting to have do some of the trainings with regional notes from the beginning.
So kind of any of the regional nuances of it regional spin right from the beginning of the session.
So it's a really good advantage for some of the sales people to get here's who the customers that we are working within the immediate region versus that might be a little bit different in some of the other regions from there.
The other thing that's been really good is the smaller groups because the onboardings are now happening.
They're just naturally at a regional breakup especially from the sales side is the group instead of it's maybe a third of the usual size.
So that allows for a lot more flexibility and if we need to change the sessions or adapt to a particular group or maybe they just have a couple stumbling blocks that they really can't take any more information until they figured this out.
It's allowed to have that flexibility to adapt to their specific needs.
And then what are some challenges that we're still facing from there?
Definitely it's just purely the actual connection the physical connection and just those hallway chats.
I'm just going to call them that is the hallway chat of what's happening and what's not happening around and just actually having the just the fatigue of the videos.
So video fatigue is absolutely real. So hopefully if anyone has any ideas of how we can help with either of those it'd be great to hear.
But hopefully this was somewhat beneficial for you. You will now get to hear a great session with a couple of my colleagues as they are talking about their new products.