Traditionally, the objective of sales training programs was two-fold. It facilitated information and knowledge sharing on one side and helped in making new connections within the community. With the rapid developments in technology, both of these are being easily replaced by internet and social media. Sales managers can stay current and up to date with the help of the internet and establish new connections through social media. How can sales training be purposeful and relevant to the next-gen?
Here is a list that best suits a sales person.
Just in time learning: A sales person might prefer to learn when the skills learnt can be applied immediately. So he needs Just-in-time learning. Sales people may not be required to apply the skills and knowledge that they learn during the ILT program immediately. If he would use this information after a couple of months, would he be in a position to recollect every single thing that has been mentioned during the program? When a vast amount of information is given to a salesperson, which may not be used immediately, that knowledge is lost or forgotten. What would best suit him is just enough information available to him when he most needs it.
Product information on a click: If a sales person needs to refer specific features of a product, he should be able to do so with a click. Sales people need product information to sell. Therefore, information has to be provided to them in a manner that will help them explain key product features to the customer. A sales person might also needs guidelines about the ideal customer profile so that he does not waste his time on the wrong prospect. Product information should be available in small modules, with ideas about how to position it to the customer, and suggestions about key value additions that the product offers. He should also be able to quickly access this information either on his laptop, tablet PC, smartphone or on audio while on his way to meet a particular customer.
Peer to peer interaction: As a sales person, he would face many challenges on the field and would like to interact with peers, share his experiences and seek solutions. A lot of peer to peer learning happens during annual sales conferences. What if there is such a facility on a regular ongoing basis within the community of the organization? This would be something like a virtual gathering place for employees where they can share ideas and ask questions on an informal basis – something like a virtual water cooler. Discussions or chats that can take place within the employees of organizations across different geographical locations pave way for information exchange and learning.
Any time learning: There should be a flexible option where salespeople can learn any time as per their convenience. Sales people need to be up to date with what is happening in their industry. They need to face a customer who also has access to information through the internet and therefore he cannot be seen to be less informed. It would be useful if there is system by which he does not have to access this information but such information is delivered every morning to him, which could give him a competitive edge.
Job aids & resources: Job aids and resources in a user-friendly format are other means by which one can keep the new-age sales person interested in learning. Sales people dislike filling in forms and doing paper work. Nevertheless, it is not something that can be avoided. However, we can make their life easy by minimizing the monotony of the work by providing checklists and templates where required. Sales closure can be a lengthy process and they could also have sales closure guides not as lengthy instructional manuals but as a simple step-by-step interactive guide.
In short, when planning training solutions for sales people, understand their specific requirements, the tasks they are expected to perform and employ the best possible methods so as to help them better perform in their jobs.