Why Your Online Sales Training Must Be More Than a Content Library
Guest Author: Dan Fisher, Menemsha Group
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many staffing firms to confront the brutal facts of reality regarding their training, learning and development programs; the inability to train a remote workforce. And even more importantly, the ability to deliver an engaging online learning experience.
Gone are the days of flying into corporate for a team training workshop. Sales kickoff events, historically a great venue for hosting and facilitating team training workshops are now virtual. If that weren’t enough, the Covid-19 pandemic has also taken away our ability to shadow train or “on the job training.”
While there is a plethora of online learning platforms to move training online, most are simply digital platforms designed for hosting a library of content but lack the capability for incrementally improving sales skills and fostering behavioral change.
In this blog post, Why Your Online Sales Training Must be More Than a Content Library, I’m going to share with you a few differences between a learning management system (LMS) and a sales enablement platform including examples of the functionality and capabilities you must incorporate into your online training if you expect to see an ROI and reap the benefits of online training.
One of the most important elements of a sales enablement platform or online training platform (used for sales training) is its ability to support the teachings and drive adoption of your sales methodology (and recruiting methodology).
Take LinkedIn Learning for example. LinkedIn Learning is a great platform loaded with great content and a ton of it! But, that’s all it is. Conventional thinking tells us “just watch some videos and then go do it.” If only it were that easy. Online sales training (and recruiter training) should be much, much more than just a digital platform loaded with a library of content. In fact, it has to be if you expect to see results.
Here is what your online sales (and recruiting) training program needs in order to incrementally improve skill development and drive lasting behavioral change.
Your sales methodology should include:
- Guiding Values and Principles (how you engage customers)
- Qualification Rubric
- Sales Process
- Messaging (what you say, what you do, what you show)
- Underlying Sales Skills
Your online sales enablement platform must possess the tools and functionality that not only teach your employees your sales methodology but also give them the opportunity for authentic skill development in a safe and controlled environment.
Take objection handling for example. The Menemsha Group sales methodology includes a four-step objection resolution methodology. We teach the methodology, including guiding principles and requisite sales skills for executing the objection resolution model via short, animated microlearning videos. But the training doesn’t stop there. If it did we would probably be out of business. Instead, through the use of our sales enablement platform, participants are given the opportunity to interact with the concept and practice applying the skills in real world, everyday staffing industry objection handling scenarios such as “we have a vendors list” or “you need to talk to HR.”
Giving learners the opportunity to practice real-world everyday role play scenarios in which they are given feedback allows for them to operationalize the principles, core values and underlying skills being delivered in training. When you neglect practice and feedback you’re simply engaging in “check the box training” which is nothing but a waste of time and money.
Think about how many times you’ve started watching an episode of a TV series in which you forgot what happened in the prior episode(s)? Or, think about the last great book you read, last great podcast you listened to or workshop you attended. Chances are you forgot some of the important details. It’s human nature to forget. In fact, there is a term for that. It’s called the Forgetting Curve. The Forgetting Curve and the data that supports it tells us that humans tend to forget half of newly learned knowledge in a matter of just days and even hours unless they consciously review the learned material. In fact, you will probably forget 80% of this blog within hours without continuous reinforcement!
The Forgetting Curve is why reinforcing employee training is so important. Continuous ongoing reinforcement is the key to performance improvement. It is reinforcement that dictates the return on your training investment. The Covid-19 pandemic pushing us to a virtual, remote working environment means that your online training platform must possess the tools and technology to reinforce your training concepts ensuring your employees retain the information. What this means is that after a learner completes a training course, such as a series of training videos and a quiz, they should be given continuous, ongoing exercises for a period of weeks to ensure they can consistently recall the information and apply the skills and knowledge.
Your sales enablement platform should have the functionality to improve knowledge retention using an intuitive and adaptive system. You want to deliver short, personalized, gamified challenges to your employees-ideally via a mobile app to make it easy for your employees to consume-at spaced intervals post training completion. This helps them convert short term memory into long term knowledge and skill adoption. Your standard LMS (learning management system) or digital platform housing a library of content can’t do this.
Coaching is another key component to reinforcement. A study from Aberdeen Group found that sales teams that reinforce training with video coaching experience 34% more first-year reps hitting quota. Video coaching and video coaching technology provide an easy and scalable way for managers to validate that their recruiters and salespeople are “conversation ready” and have mastered the skills. This is typically done incorporating video-based training activities in which employees have the opportunity to practice demonstrating their knowledge and ability to execute the skill.
Automating sales coaching with AI is another great way for reinforcing training. Having a bot record and transcribe a customer (or candidate) call empowers sales reps with the confidence to remain engaged in active listening and asking effective probing questions because they don’t have to worry about taking notes. In short, they can focus 100% on the customer. Our customers are using AI to review and analyze rep and recruiter conversations and then take the insights they gain from those recordings to empower their employees to continuously learn, grow and develop. The insights they gain from AI help leaders in establishing what “good and productive” customer conversations sound like.
There are many factors to consider when it comes to evaluating sales enablement platforms and achieving successful online sales training. A library of engaging content is a critical first step but we also need the functionality and capability to embed our sales methodology and recruiting methodology into our online training platform. We also need the functionality to incrementally improve performance, foster and support long term knowledge retention and behavior change.
What steps are you taking to move your sales and recruiter training online?
About Dan Fisher
Since 1996 Dan has accumulated a successful track in consistently driving revenue growth for both IT staffing and bench-based IT consulting firms as an individual contributor and sales leader. Since founding Menemsha Group in 2008 Dan has designed and developed sales onboarding and training programs for over 400 IT staffing firms and has trained thousands of IT sales professionals. Menemsha Group provides a SaaS based sales enablement platform including all of the necessary training content to make sales onboarding success repeatable and predictable for IT staffing firms. Menemsha Group provides the technology, tools, training, coaching, content and instructional design and authoring capabilities to ensure recruiters and salespeople are “conversation ready” across all stages of the sales cycle, leading to repeatable, predictable revenue growth. Learn more at menemshagroup.com
About S.J.Hemley Marketing
S.J.Hemley Marketing is a marketing and sales consulting firm focused on driving tangible results for professional services firms. Brand matters, but not without ROI. With over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within staffing and recruiting, we have helped to drive successful branding, sales training, lead generation activities as well as defining marketing strategy for top organizations. www.sjhemleymarketing.com