Product training has been typically been delivered through classrooms across organizations. However, relying only on instructor-led face to face classroom trainings may not be a viable option for training a global sales force for the following reasons.
Expanding Markets and Sales Territories
Companies have expanded globally and most of the big companies have their presence in other countries apart from their country of origin. With globalization of operations of most companies, sales territories have also expanded spanning many countries and sometimes continents. So, now we have a sales team covering EMEA which includes Europe, Middle East and Africa or NCSA, which includes North America, Canada and South America. Training employees across the territories on company’s products effectively and quickly is the first challenge.
Proliferation of Products
Next challenge is the sheer number of products that a sales person handles. Last year, a leading manufacturer of laptops and tablet PCs launched 6 products under 8 different categories – not to speak of individual complexities of these products. Training sales people in a manner that they are able to retain vast amount of information is a huge challenge. They not only have to learn about their products but also the markets and competition. It is a challenge not only for the trainees but also for those who are responsible for training them. An annual or bi-annual training program is not adequate to reinforce key aspects and market dynamics vis-à-vis products.
Cultural and Linguistic Differences
With the geographic spread of markets, sales people come from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. They may all not have similar English language proficiency to fully comprehend the learning in that language. It may be necessary to translate and localize training into the local languages. This means time and cost, another major challenge.
Ongoing Dilemma about Forgoing Sales Opportunity for Training
With mounting pressures in the market, the last thing a sales person needs is time-consuming classroom training. Even if we coax people to come into a classroom, it is physical impossible for product managers to travel across the globe and train hundreds or even thousands of people. The need is just-in-time and absolutely need-based training which traditional instructor-led classroom trainings may not be able to meet.
Given the above challenges, it is important that organizations adopt online training measures to ensure that their sales people have access to training when they need and when their schedules permit. How does your organization or an organization that you know react to these challenges in training their sales force? Do share your experiences.