Sales Learning: Your Reps Don’t Come With an Instruction Manual, Part 2
- B2B sales professionals are y focused only on closing deals; taking time away for learning is a struggle despite an acknowledged need for long-term training
- Sales enablement, charged with finding the right balance between driving knowledge to the field and maximizing selling time, often depends on supporting technology to transmit knowledge
- Selecting the right platform requires identifying the core learning format and delivery needs of reps, as well as organizational requirements for delivery, measurement and reporting
The initial installment of this blog seriesdetailed the first two sales rep-friendly characteristics that sales learning environments must include: learning must be asynchronous and self-paced. Let’s now explore the three remaining must-haves characteristics needed for successful training:
- Mobile-friendly. The rule of thumb for developing any consumer-oriented technology has been to make the mobile interface as seamless as the traditional wired experience. The same guidance applies to business applications, especially those designed for a learning audience on the go. Sales learning technologies are most effective when deployed in a native mobile application, rather than simply a mobile-friendly Web site, because they typically allow for activities to be conducted regardless of whether the user is currently connected to the Internet. Mobile learning apps can also be integrated with other key sales technologies, such as the sales force automation (SFA) platform. For example, a rep who enters a new SFA opportunity for a buyer in a particular industry should receive a triggered offering to experience a learning module about that business. Finally, organizations should note that the mobile experience is not limited to traveling sellers; many inside and office-based reps use their mobile device as a second screen while multi-tasking during their day – this may be in the form of engaging in a short quiz or checking out their team’s learning leaderboard during another call or activity that does not require their full attention.
- Bite-sized. Sales professionals are more likely to participate in institutional learning if the education takes place in real time, around their actual opportunities, and can be measured in seconds or minutes. Technologies that best support this approach, especially around short quizzes that reinforce training content presented earlier to reps, will most likely be popular with this audience. When addressing the more substantive needs around sales onboarding learning, sales enablement leaders must avoid the traditional static presentation that bombards new reps with days or even weeks of nonstop material – science has long proven that most content presented this way is quickly forgotten – and leverage a higher volume of snack-sized learning modules that are carefully metered out and interspersed with more substantive content bundles.
- Social. The term “social” lends credence to leveraging the interpersonal skills that most B2B sellers use to build and nurture customer relationships. In the context of sales learning technologies, social refers to building on the ubiquity of social media platforms and user-generated content to introduce crowd-sourced and competitive educational elements to the real-time sales team environment. While pre-digital sales reps tended to learn only from their managers or designated trainers, modern reps have increasingly come of age surrounded by the tribal knowledge of their peers and even of complete strangers, within their online community footprints. Learning solutions that leverage social platforms collect likes, shares or other peer-judged validations of the most effective sales pitches recorded on video by reps within a team, as well as allow managers or coaches to demo the optimal messaging. Such applications can also tap into the competitive nature of professional sellers by gamifying the act of learning itself, by rewarding and recognizing team members who consume the most training, successfully test on it, or generate the most popular examples around how to sell most effectively. At the most fundamental level, social learning also taps into different parts of reps’ brains, enhancing their actual physical ability to learn.