Are you still relying on content-heavy product documentation to help your sales team better understand your new product? Are you not satisfied with the way your recent attempts to impart sales training through e-learning turned out? Then, this blog post is for you. Like everyone else, I too believe that sales training can be best conducted in a classroom environment. However, with the presence of sales force all over the globe, it will not be feasible for companies to keep moving their best trainers from one division to another. Hence, we have to depend on technology to be our savior, e-learning as we call it here.
E-learning doesn’t offer 100% Accurate Evaluation
Many companies use e-learning to impart sales training. But how many of them actually worked? How do you know that the recent high in your sales is because of your e-learning program? One of the flaws with conventional learning methods is that they don’t offer accurate evaluation. All we do is present a set of questions to the learner at the end of the course and completely rely on them to evaluate if the learner has understood what he needs to.
Let’s Play a Game
This happens with traditional e-learning. Things have changed. People in the training industry continue to talk about using advanced learning strategies such as gamification, virtual reality, augmented reality and lot more. For now, let’s stick to our scenario and talk about a strategy that can help your sales teams do way better with their sales figures, gamification. The usage of the word gamification is pretty high these days but definitely not as much as the usage of the strategy itself. In the book The Gamification of Learning and Instruction, author Karl.M.Kapp has defined 12 elements of a game which can be used in a learning context to engage learners better. In this post, we’ll use some of these elements to develop a gamified learning approach for our product training scenario. Remember that we are not talking about structural gamification in which case, all we have to do is just add the game elements such as points, badges, etc., to the content. We are discussing content gamification here, which demands the content to be converted into a game-like environment.
Begin with “Once upon a time…
Video games that came out in the initial days added a small story layer to make them more interesting and engaging than merely focusing on racing or shooting. Storytelling is a key component of gamified learning. So first let’s create a story for our game. Don’t confuse yourself by comparing this approach with scenario-based learning. Building a scenario for a regular e-learning course is different from writing a story for a gamified learning environment. Games include an element of fantasy which takes the players’ engagement levels to great heights. Games often represent real world elements with a fantasy layer that ads to the awe of the learner. Let’s do the same here with your sales training. Remember, gamification requires freedom of thinking without being bound by rules. This enables creativity to pour in. So let’s start imagining.
Be it games/movies, most of the stories commonly revolve around the journey of a single character, the Hero. So create your plot/story around your hero who is your sales rep. Let’s imagine your company as an ancient kingdom. Time travelling is fun, isn’t it? Begin your story with a narrative showing the kingdom where you introduce the characters of the story/game. Introduce your sales guy as a chief of the Sales Army. A story within a video game typically unfolds with a character encountering a problem. So begin your story with your Sales Chief in conversation with his King. The king calls the Chief to inform that a war has been declared and he’ll have to visit various kingdoms seeking support. He has to convince the kings he visits, that he has the best force (products) and joining them will only ensure victory (profits).
Introduce your Product through the Training Arena
The first step is to prepare your hero for his trip. Here your screen can look like a training area/arena with the hero sitting in front a table. In an old training book on the table (your e-learning GUI), you can include small segments of learning on the product. Your learner doesn’t need all the information here. Just like in the case of a regular e-learning course, divide your course into chapters based on the complexity and comprehension level required to absorb the information. Each chapter covers information about products under one category.
Summative Evaluation as a Court Scenario:
Evaluating the learner is different from testing a gamer. Any interactivity in the course should be aligned with the story the course began with. Let’s say our hero has completed a chapter on one product category. He will now have to use the information he learnt to deal with the next king he visits. In a court background, present scenario-based questions where the hero will be questioned by the king on various aspects of the product. If the hero answers correctly, he will be able to obtain the support of the king. Add to the aesthetics of the game here with small music bits playing according to the answers he has selected.
Maintain the Curve of Interest through Rewards:
Games or gamification concept demands rewarding players at regular intervals. Luckily in this scenario, we already have our course divided into chapters. So let’s say the hero has successfully answered questions from a particular chapter. We can then show the king being pleased with his answers and rewarding him with virtual currency (possibly gold coins). This will take the motivation levels to great heights.
Summative Assessment through Final Battle:
Let’s get back to the beginning of the story. Why is our hero visiting the neighboring kings in the first place? Remember the initial scenario with his king? Yes, there’s a war coming. Now that the learner/player has completed all the chapters, he is ready to go to the war accompanied by the kings he convinced to fight along with (the information from all the chapters) him. With a war scene in the background, pose the questions one after the other. This will keep the learner well within the context right till the end of the course.
This is one idea on how content gamification can be used to develop a gamified e-learning that engages learners in a better way. The way people learn is changing day by day and so should our instructional methods. Hope this blog post has been informative. Please share your ideas/experiences on using gamification in your courses.