To remain successful and competitive, organizations need to ensure that their sales employees are knowledgeable enough to close the deals. But due to quick launch of products, products with complex specifications, and new age customers on board (posing difficult questions), the training needs of sales people are changing.
The new age sales teams need quick access to product information, but not in the form of boring manuals. They need training that is engaging, relevant, and reinforcing. Now let’s face it, do you think all these are achievable with the traditional training methodology?
Traditional training sessions incur huge investments and time and it will be a mess, if you have a global presence. On top of it, there will be no proper means to track the training effectiveness and improvise.
So whether you’re ready for it or not, a shift is needed in implementing training. To better support today’s sales force, you must abandon the traditional set up and embrace online training methods. Here are five simple steps you can take to support your sales team.
1. Try e-learning to enhance effectiveness:
E-learning courses can be accessed anytime, anywhere unlike the long hour classroom sessions. E-learning provides an opportunity to design hands-on virtual learning experiences that are interesting to the learners. Using suitable instructional strategies, the training can be made simple and comprehensive even, if the products are too complex. Here are a few strategies that are used,
Instead of just jumping into the product features or benefits, scenarios help in creating a context or in setting the stage before you introduce the product. This enables the learners to understand the situations that they come across, gain access to product information, and learn how to sell the product.
Case study-based approach
This helps learners to analyze the practical situations while making the sale and to know how to handle them. The approach reinforces the product value and ensures customer satisfaction.
Simulations, which are interactive demonstrations, equip the sales team with the knowledge on the features and benefits of the product. This is useful to convey to the customers information on how the product is to be handled or used.
2. Develop a library of training programs
Sales people are mostly on the move and hard-pressed for time with tough deadlines. So it is better that you create an online library of training assets, which can be accessed whenever they wish to learn or need the information the most. When I say online library, it doesn’t just mean that you need to switch over to e-learning programs. You can blend e-learning with various other formats such as the following:
Webinars are ideal tools to educate sales people on the features and benefits of products in a flexible manner. Webinars hold the attention of learners for longer periods. Live webinar trainings conducted by the product specialists for a small group, can be recorded and made available to your global workforce.
Videos are the best medium to demonstrate product features and functioning. They also enable people to retain the information longer. This information can help your sales person in persuading the customer to make the purchase.
Sales people often spend most of their time on field or in travelling. So mobile devices can be used to provide current updates to learners and keep them updated. Just-in-time learning bytes via the mobile prove very helpful.
3. Keep pace with product launches
The product launch cycles are very fast specially in some domains, for example, over 60 models of mobiles get launched in every 3 months. The sales person can’t wait to get trained for months to sell the product. Using rapid development tools such as Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, and Lectora Inspire and so on, the time to develop online training modules can be reduced considerably.
With these, it is possible to develop a product training module in just 20 days. One hour of e-learning or m-learning course of level 3 interactivity can be developed in 3 weeks. one hour of webinar can be converted to on-demand in just 1 week. Online training enables organizations to reduce the time lag between product launch and training in a big way.
4. Deliver consistent training to global audience
Typically, organizations are spread across diverse geographical areas. Although they operate from different places, you can’t convey different messages. You must ensure that the training you offer is uniform across all locations. Translations and localization will help you with this. E-learning or all the online training programs can be quickly translated into any number of languages without losing its essence and cultural appropriateness.
5. Track and improvise learning
One big gap in the traditional training medium is the inability to track training and ensure improvement. But with a learning management system in place, you can track various aspects of training. Learner performance, progress, effectiveness and outcomes can be tracked and analyzed to identify the gaps and make necessary improvements in time. So with online tracking capabilities, you offer better learning experiences.
As product training managers, you need to be ready to roll-out effective training programs, in tight timelines in synchronization with the product launches. To cater to all these changing training demands of the sales team, e-learning is the ideal medium. Hope you found the blog interesting. Do share if you wish to add to the list.