Episode 202: Sonia Pupaza on How Microlearning Drives Intentional Development

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Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.

Today I’m excited to have Sonia Pupaza from Camunda join us. Sonia, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.

Sonia Pupaza: Hi Shawnna, thank you for having me here. I feel honored and excited to be here today. As you mentioned, my name is Sonia and I work in field enablement at Camunda. My professional experience expands across multiple fields and multiple industries. I started in marketing in the public sector, moved to project management in banking, then marketing and exports in a manufacturing company, like a tableware producer, and then, amazing, I moved to Japan where I graduated from an executive training program, worked in an embassy supporting some events, market research. Then I came back to my country and moved to the other side of learning and became a program manager for Angloville, which is an English learning training program for adults.

After that, I designed my own courses on Udemy. Deciding what to do with my life was the most difficult part ever. For Udemy, I designed courses where I mapped the skills that I felt needed for certain domains like marketing and sales because at that point I didn’t know what to choose to do next. Those courses became very popular. I also enjoyed producing them, so I started to look for a job developing courses and started working in Oracle as a sales enablement professional designing courses for sales and consulting. I probably would be still working in Oracle, but I’ve changed the country I live in and by changing the country, I decided to join another company, which is now Camunda. It’s a company with only 300 people compared to what Oracle was, giant, but I feel like all the skills and knowledge that I gathered working in Oracle can be easily applied. I can try new things here in Camunda.

SS: Well, I’m excited to have you on our podcast today. On LinkedIn, you wrote a post about microlearning that says “in order to have a sustainable approach to learning, we need to be more mindful and intentional regarding where we put our energy and our attention.” I love that quote, how does microlearning help create a sustainable approach to learning?

SP: Well, mindfulness and being intentional are on my mind all the time because I was also a founder of a well-being enthusiast group and it became part of my life. I feel like in today’s fast-paced world, most of us become so attached to the digital environment that we feel disconnected from everyone and everything when we put down our gadgets. We are bombarded with so much content that it becomes very difficult to distinguish what’s valuable, what’s of immediate use or just nice to have. If it’s just filling up our free time with something of interest, then it’s fine to do what you like, read a book, read a blog, listen to a podcast or watch a movie, but if we have a plan of personal or professional growth all this time spent doing whatever is a valuable resource that we can use to move intentionally towards reaching our goals. Being spontaneous is great, but having a plan in mind helps us get further with baby steps and helps us build our blocks.

If we could plan some small bites of learning into our everyday life, it gets us further than blocking only two hours for one day at the end of the week, let’s say. Those small chunks of time build your long-lasting habits of learning something new every day rather than those two hours just because you have to.

SS: Absolutely. Now, you’ve also talked about the importance of keeping reps engaged in learning programs, especially in the virtual and hybrid environments that you were just chatting about. What are some of your best practices for generating that engagement?

SP: So sharing from my own experience, I have traveled and concentrated in learning in uni, just reading a book and making it somehow work and basing all my programs on bite-sized content. Just because the learner’s attention span is between two and six minutes. I’m also guiding all the SMEs that I work with to concentrate on just one topic that’s no longer than six minutes. My aim is to set up our team for success by being ready to reuse, recombine, and repurpose some of it. Some information might get outdated very fast and some other information might need to be replaced.

We are trying to cover one topic in a video and then keep the section under 30 minutes so a person can schedule that 30 minutes during the day. They don’t necessarily need to consume all the content of the program in one day, as I mentioned, they can split it during several consecutive days or when they have the time to dedicate 30 minutes for their learning.

We use short training materials to cover how-to videos for tools and other stuff that can be covered in such a short time. We also extract short success stories or interviews from longer presentation sessions and webinars. For the longer presentation sessions and webinars that the leaders want us to share with our team, the least I can do is to add some timestamps to help navigate faster and go directly to the information of their immediate use.

SS: So you mentioned that the content in your programs can play a big role in delivering genuine engagement. When it comes to content, what are your best practices for finding the right in-house content to use to create your training programs?

SP: Well, finding the right in-house content is always difficult, especially if you are working for an older, larger, and more mature organization. The challenge is to identify that content. That usually files into three piles, like outdated, needs updated, and still up to date. The key to surface the most useful content and keep it all up to date is to have a procedure in place to revise it periodically and have it mapped on specific skills and keywords, curated, and repurposed as needed. For younger, smaller organizations the challenge is to identify existing content and mapping the gaps. There is also the challenge of how to best use the low resources in human capital. Usually, your field enablement team is very small and they have to do a lot of things. In Camunda, we have to start from information stored on conference pages and organize informative sessions about what’s new in the company, then what sales teams need to know in order to perform their jobs, and we are now moving towards video-based learning practical sessions and life certification.

When you are starting in our company and there is no tracking system in place, what you have to do is map your content to know what you have. So by the time you need to create something at least you will know what you have and what needs to be further developed.

SS: You just mentioned different ways that content developers can create content to be easily consumed by the learners, so how do you work with subject matter experts or SMEs to create that consumable content?

SP: Well, approaching different SMEs depends on the type of training we want to create as a process. Your first step would be to ask the sales leaders about what they need, then tie their needs to the company goals, validate the needs and then create a calendar based on the sales enablement team availability to create and deliver, and the sales team availability to consume the training. It doesn’t make sense to work so much in developing content that the sales team do not have the time to consume and the sales either do not have the buying and do not promote your training.

Once you have decided what training you want to create, the next step would be deciding who’s going to be your SMEs and guide them into what you need. Usually, you are using many subject matter experts who are coming from different fields and you will have to make sure they are on the same page so you’re program is consistent and delivered on the same level of quality.

So for company-related knowledge like strategy, positioning, specific solutions, we work with the founders. We have two co-founders to share the message and then different field leaders like sales leaders, product marketing team leaders and also professionals on their job who already have authority in the company and the face for delivering that content.

For training on how to use specific tools, we use vendor training materials combined with in-house specialists like the early adopters who have tried it and made it work for themselves and learn how to navigate the tools, while for skills training, like the sales skills throughout the sales cycle. If it’s general knowledge or general skills we can try to bring in a specialist on the topic who has already delivered training materials and training programs because it doesn’t make sense to reinvent the width.

SS: That’s fantastic. Now, as the sales environment continues to evolve, how do you anticipate your training programs will also evolve and how are you beginning to plan for this in your current enablement strategy?

SP: Well Shawnna, I think that’s a really great question. I can only provide an answer that fits a medium-sized company, like we are about 300 people at Camunda with a relatively new function. Field enablement function is less than three years old. The experience I got from Oracle where the sales enablement function was covered by almost 300 people showed me what good looks like. Now at Camunda, with a team of two, soon to become three people, we need to provide the best possible experience with our training program so that the teams in the field become more successful due to the new gained knowledge and skills and they return to us to ask for what they need. Initially, the team was focusing on putting up fires meaning reacting to the leaders immediate needs more on communicating what’s new and trust me, there is always something new in this company that the sales still needs to be aware of and know how to position that information to their prospects and customers.

We have monthly spark sessions for creating awareness on this subject and updates. We’ve developed a couple of training programs which include sharing information, checking learner’s understanding and testing how they apply what they’ve learned and of course more topics to come on that. We are also moving towards creating a safe playground where our sales team can apply what they learned before going to the customers, like incorporating training sessions in our programs with breakout rooms and places where they can interact with each other on the topics.

The next step would be creating certification sessions for more sensitive content. When I’m saying sensitive content and talking about Camunda launching our new platform product which is revolutionary for us and everyone needs to be enabled on what to say and how to position this new product. We need people to train on how to position things because we haven’t done it before on this topic. We’ve been through a lot of changes and now it’s time to get us all aligned. Our field enablement team initially had the VP and now we moved under the RevOps. We have promoted a new sales leader, because the previous one left, so it’s time for everyone to get on the same page and we are trying to set the priorities and the broad map for the next two years. Even if you are saying maybe in sales enablement two years is a lot and it’s too much, starting from scratch is usually very difficult and if there is something on that road map at least there is a way to grab what’s there and maybe reprioritize.

Another way to help us navigate and get faster to create training programs is by defining the process of how to get there by also creating templates and processes and checklists and procedures, so it’s easier to replicate faster.

SS: Fantastic, Sonia, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it today.

To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit salesenablement.pro. If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.

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