There is nothing new about on-the-job training for sales people. In fact, that has been the norm with most companies. After all, learning by doing is most effective and on-the-job-training offers the sales people just that. They learn the required sales skills, processes and product information as they get on with their job. But if it was a norm earlier, it was largely due to lack of other options. Given the fact that today we have a multitude of options, isn’t it time that we explore them?
It is true that on-the-job training is very cost-effective because organizations do have additional training expenses. A trainee salesman follows a senior sales person or a ‘buddy’ sales person on a couple of sales calls, gets valuable insights and moves on to make his own independent pitches. As a result, only the skills, process and product information that are highly relevant to the job are learnt. This would enable him to directly face real-life situation that are relevant to his job.
However, on-the-job training has its own limitations as it is largely dependent on the individual – his level of interest and motivation – which requires individual monitoring. As there is no definite content or guideline with respect to training, it is difficult to assess the skills that the trainee has learnt so far and those that need to be acquired. Also, one is not sure of the consistency of learning between one sales person and the other. It is also difficult to fix a time frame for the trainee to learn all the skills that are needed for the job.
As we have several options today, organizations can explore various options which can supplement their on-the-job training practice. Having some basic training modules that can be accessed by the sales people when required is a useful option. Information pertaining to the products, sales process and so on can be structured in a format that is quick to understand and retrieved bythe sales person. Company intranets or websites could be used for the purpose. Typically, on the job, employees get to interact only with their immediate colleagues. However, facilitating peer-to-peer interaction will provide employees with a wider spectrum of learning.
Technology can be effectively used to supplement on-the-job training by giving sales personnel organized resources and performance support tools to help them.