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In fast moving markets your sales force live their professional life, and parts of their private, in the fast lane. This life style shape how and when they can learn. Build your knowledge sharing program in small, easy to consume modules. This organization is also one of your most mobile ones, and a wise choice is to assume they are always on the road with or close to clients.
The new learning reality for your sales force
The gap from when clients ask for input until when they expect an answer is shrinking. Your sales force need to become instant learners. Both on-the-job training, web based learning and instructor led classes play a role for your sales force. But with the accelerated pace more and more of the essential learnings will come from on-the job-training.
But you cannot afford as an organization to let all sales people make their own mistakes from scratch. Share gained insights fast between sales teams working on similar opportunities has high priority. The pressure on sales teams to close opportunities remains high. Thinking about your sales peers needs often get a lower priority. So it is central to minimize the efforts required to transfer learnings for the ones gaining the insights first.
Everybody can allocate 15 minutes daily, nobody can do 30 minutes consistently
In most industries your sales staff needs to invest 100 hours yearly in their personal development. If not it is hard to stay relevant to your clients. 20 years ago you attended 2 intense course week to meet the goals.. Ten years ago we had taken it to 3 days per quarter or 1 day per month. Planning for such intervals and expecting a full days of focus does not work in the current sales environment.
It is even hard for a sales person to plan for multiple 30-60 minute sessions per week. Especially if tied to someone else availability and to a fixed time slot in a different time-zone. All sales people with a genuine interest in their own professional development can find a 15 minutes daily. And the good news they can do it every day as long as they see a strong enough need to keep up with the demand from their clients. Lean and learning sales organization aim for making the best out of this quarter.
Craft your learning modules for down-time on mobile devices rather than uptime on laptops. Most web based learning modules are targeting a person’s uptime with a PC or Laptop as the primary device. Such an environment restricts the opportunities for your sales force in a major way. A better approach is to target your sales force down time and the use of a mobile device as the primary learning vehicle. Both videos and podcasts are good formats to exploit for this type of knowledge sharing.
Learning targeting mobiles increased odds of your sales force getting access to knowledge on their terms.
Educate with a sales situation in mind
Your sales force has shorter attention span than the rest of your organization. Your sales force has a strong need to put new learnings in play immediately. You can assume your sales force to prefer a different type of training material.
Listen carefully for what your second best sales person needs. Your best always have to figure it out on their own anyway. Your second bests are where your sales trainings will have the biggest impact. Help your sales staff with insights they can use when interacting with clients. Keep the training simple and focused on the main points. Assume your sales staff has to convey in 5 minutes what they learn in 15 minutes. Sales professionals learn better with numbers than with letters.
Your sales staff is your best source of relevant learnings. Reach out to your best sales persons on a regular basis. What did you learn? How can we apple the learnings gained? Who might sit with similar needs? You can go far with simple questions and reflections.
Questions to support you and your team
Great questions to support the development of a powerful sales training program are:
- How much time, where and when do we expect our sales force to dedicate to training – setting a realistic ambition defined by the nature of your business is important as a starting point.
- How do we get access the best insights from our best sales persons – don’t expect sales people to be eager to share what they struggled with, but that is where the best insights live.
- What are the “test practices” we can turn into best practices – anything done the first time is not the best an organization can do, but it is a great starting point for a scrubbing effort.
- What are the tools and target devices for a mobile sales force? – Video and audio targeting tablet and smartphones is a powerful starting point
- How do you measure usage and which sessions that “click” with your sales force – do more of the successful ones and less of the others.
Additional reading suggestions
- You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar, 2nd Edition: Sandler Training’s 7-Step System for Successful Selling[BOOK] – by David Sandler
- How to train a sales force [BLOGPOST] – by Maggie McCormick, Demand Media
- 5 sales training techniques that every manager should know [BLOGPOST] – by Andrew Fayed, Yesware
- How to learn a new job skill in just 15 minutes per day [BLOGPOST] – by Nicole Cavazoz, Zip Recruiter
- The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right For You? [BLOGPOST] – by Tucker Cummings, Lifehack
- Divide your time in short bursts of study [BLOGPOST] – by Lingoholic
- Selling has gone mobile, shouldn’t your sales training follow [BLOGPOST] – by Brendan Cournoyers, Association for Talent Development