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What Is the Role of Technology in Sales Training Solutions?

Sales performance improvement

systems integrations

richardsonsalestrainingSeptember 9, 2013Blog

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Adapted from interview with Dario Priolo, former Chief Strategy Officer for Richardson Sales Performance and Michael Rochelle, Chief Strategy Officer for Brandon Hall Group

Part two our series on applying key practices in learning and development to sales training solutions.

It is fascinating to witness the innovation that is taking place across sales and marketing. And we are seeing opportunities to leverage technology throughout the learning process. When trying to improve the effectiveness of your sales training solutions, you must consider how technology can help your efforts.

Here are several ideas for how you can do that in your organization:

  1. Gather pre-training insights. Collecting data about your reps in advance of the training may seem like an obvious suggestion, but you know there are some out there failing to make this connection. Leverage technology to help identify learning gaps and learning needs among your reps. If they’re already strong in a certain area, don’t bother spending time on it during training; rather, focus elsewhere.
  2. Recorded lectures. Most sales training is still delivered by live instructor-led training, especially skills training. Leverage technology to accelerate knowledge transfer so that more of that valuable classroom time is spent on actual skill development and coaching as opposed to digesting new content for the first time. The recorded lectures can also be referred to post-training whenever desired.
  3. Videotape training role plays. When practicing to become a better public speaker, most speech coaches videotape students in order to objectively demonstrate areas in need of improvement (watch those “ums” and “ahs”). The ability to record and share video makes it easy to apply this concept to training role plays and other parts of the program. This isn’t to shame anyone, but rather to add another dimension to their experience. Seeing yourself on screen (whether doing something well or cringe-worthy) will have a longer-lasting effect than trying to remember the result of a classroom training exercise down the line. When back in the field, reps will be more likely to recall and try to repeat their success or adjust so as to not fail again.
  4. QuickCheckTM. Speaking of making the training lessons last longer, we’ve written about Ebbinghaus’s “Forgetting Curve” and the dramatic loss of knowledge in the weeks following training. After instructor-led training, technology can be leveraged to facilitate learning reinforcement, coaching, and accountability. Richardson Sales Performance’s QuickCheckTM is one such tool, which sends short, multiple choice questions to participants for a period of time after receiving training. The questions are repeated until answered twice successfully and then retired until the reps have mastered the content. Participants are not only told the best correct answer, but why it is the preferred response. And managers can monitor what information has been mastered and what might need more reinforcement
  5. CRM and sales automation triggers. Instructor-led training programs should focus on how sales reps actually do their jobs in order to make the training most applicable. One of the ways to do this is to actually embed skill development into technology workflows such as a CRM system, other sales and marketing automation systems, or sales enablement systems – such as Savo. That is becoming a lot more common now. A salesperson who is actually executing a sales process and preparing for a customer conversation can access the precise learning that they will need at that point in time in order to help them execute more effectively.
  6. Social media. There’s an opportunity to leverage social media to help your trained sales reps stay focused on what you’ve taught them, extend their interest, and help each other to master the topic. As we’ve noted before, it is essential to view training as a continuous learning process and not a single event. Building a network of trained reps can give them the community they need to sustain the conversation and continue to grow. You can have closed networks for each trained class, or one for all “graduates” of a program. Once you develop such networks, try not to view them as a post-training discussion group, but one that lives and thrives before, during, and after training. This is also another opportunity for sales managers and training leaders to monitor the chatter for training ideas.
Allowing salespeople to do their job is a key factor to their success. To what extent can you use technology to leave sales reps in the field while still training and developing them? Can you allow them to do what they are being paid to do every day and really stay in the moment rather than diverting to the classroom? Can technology enable this type of sales training solution to become part of their day rather than out-of-the-field event driven? At some point, you do need to bring people together for learning, but be sure to structure those events as part of a larger program of continuous learning, and don’t overlook the gains to be had by leveraging technology to increase the effectiveness of your sales training solution.

Have you applied any or all of these tactics in your sales training efforts? What works best for you and why? Tell us in the comments section below.

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