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Incorporating Adult Learning Techniques in Online Product Sales Training

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Incorporating Adult Learning Techniques in Online Product Sales Training

Why do many product sales training programs fail, despite providing the right information to their learners? Where does the problem lie? Well, they are not based on adult learning principles. Many companies often focus on the content to be delivered to their sales staff, but only a few design their programs based on adult learning principles.

But what are adult learning principles, and why are they important?

Adults learn differently compared to children. Cognitive psychologists have identified 5 principles of adult learning, and it is necessary to apply these principles while designing product training programs. Let us see what these principles are:

  1. Adults learn better when they know how the training program would benefit them.
  2. They are motivated by external rewards such as increase in wages, promotions, etc. They are also motivated by intrinsic factors such as the need for self-esteem and power, increase in responsibilities, and so on.
  3. Adult learners like the learning to solve their problems.
  4. They value learning content which is relevant to their needs.
  5. They do not prefer to be tied. In other words, they wish to learn at the place, time, and pace of their choice.

We will now see how these principles can be applied to product training programs effectively.

Tell your people how they can sell better by attending the product training program 

You need to clearly explain the benefits of attending the product training program to your sales people. This would go a long way in motivating them to take up the program. It’s good idea to deliver a What’s-In-It-For-Me (WIFM) module prior to imparting the “actual” product knowledge. Learners would enthusiastically participate in the product training program, if they are convinced that it helps them sell better.

Gamify the training program and reward the winner

Learner motivation is a very important factor that makes or mars a product training program. Your sales team members can be motivated in a big way using games. For instance, one of our clients in the pharmaceutical vertical used a game-based online learning program to train its personnel on a new antibiotic. The staff members were intimated that the learner who wins the highest number of points in the game will be rewarded with a badge and USD 3000. This motivated the employees to do well in the training and win the badge and the financial reward.

Make sure that the learning is problem-based

You need to adopt a problem-centered approach when you design your product training program. In other words, you need to make sure that the learning helps your people overcome the problems in selling the products effectively. Staying on with the example of the drug manufacturer, the product training programs for its sales staff include scenarios that help the medical reps handle a major problem – objections of the doctors.

Deliver learning that helps your salespersons meet their goals efficiently

One of the major reasons why many product training programs fail is that the content is not relevant to the specific needs of learners. Companies often deliver the same content for all learners (sales people, service staff etc.), and this leads to poor results. The product training program needs to enable your sales people to perform their jobs effectively. It is advisable to include the following aspects in the product training program for your sales team:

  • Position of the product in the product portfolio
  • Target customer profiles
  • Features and benefits of products
  • Accessories, bundling, and cross-selling ideas
  • AMC information
  • Comparison with competing products
  • Tips for selling

Harness the full potential of mobile learning

Adult learners wish to take charge of their learning. They prefer to chart their own learning paths and want to access courses whenever they want. This need can be met very effectively through mobile learning. Furthermore, mobile learning helps your sales reps make the best use of their time. Mobile devices enable learning even in “dead time” – hours considered generally unproductive such as time spent in travelling. This makes mobile learning ideal for employees who are often hard-pressed for time. You can also use the mobile to provide just-in-time learning (JIT).

Thus, you can develop good product training programs by applying adult learning principles. Hope you find this blog useful. Do share your views.

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