Sales training traditionally has been instructor led and to some extent computer based. The instructor could be an external consultant or the internal manager. While one cannot undermine the strengths of this method, training salespeople who are spread across wider geographical regions is definitely challenging. However, it is physically impossible for one instructor to cover all the locations. Either training programs are scheduled on a rotation basis or operations are shut down for 2-3 days a year and all the sales personnel congregate under one roof for the annual sales training program. Such programs are generally hectic and it is difficult to measure their effectiveness. Other options are to train the trainers and these individual trainers could then train their respective teams. This results in inconsistency of delivery of information and it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of the training program. Is there a better option to deliver sales training in today’s fast paced technological environment?
We in recent times have witnessed a phenomenal proliferation of technological solutions in almost all domains. Sales training is no exception. While it is still in the nascent stage, technology has begun impacting the training process even here. Online training and virtual training are no longer fiction but reality and have become an accepted option for many companies.
The most important benefit of adopting technology in deploying sales training is that sales professionals need not compromise their on-field time to attend training programs. They can minimize their time away from their core functional area i.e. contacting prospects. It would be most suitable for action-oriented sales people who may not enjoy being confined to a traditional classroom setting.
Secondly, knowledge can be provided when they need it most. Imagine a situation where a sales person needs to know updated information about a new product that has been recently introduced. Or if the sales person missed the product training session that has been recently concluded and needs to stay on par with his peers in terms of product knowledge. Information that helps them make more sales is always welcomed by sales people. More so, if it is made available to them when they need it most. If such information is stored in a central repository that is accessible to all sales forces, it would prove handy for a sales person on the move.
This can be achieved through ‘learning communities’ that can be built into the company intranet. Hosting the courses online through a Learning Management Systems (LMS) enables learners to take up the courses at their convenience. Not only that, it also helps managers to assess the performance of the learners instantly. It also helps keep a record of all the courses that learners have taken so far and their performance vis-a-vis expectations. Some companies have experimented by giving their sales team iPods through which trainers can distribute podcast courses and job aids directly. This could well be the norm in future.
Technological influence in sales training will be an ongoing phenomenon as newer technologies keep getting used; so it is important for training managers to keep track of technological solutions so that they can be adopted effectively in deploying sales training.