There are few managers who would disagree that a comprehensive training program is vital to the success of a sales team. However, if you’ve worked with salespeople in any capacity you know these folks are professional multitaskers. Driving and working at the same time? No problem! (We don’t endorse that habit...safety first, people!) Considering they are usually incentivized for capturing new business, responding to client and prospect inquiries is their top priority. They’ll duck out of meetings to take phone calls, check their email constantly and are often researching their next target.
Naturally, the idea of planting a salesperson in a chair or in front of a computer to take an elearning course for more than five minutes seems a bit daunting. To salespeople, time is money. To a manager, their continued growth of expertise and savvy is also money. So, how do you create a training regimen that doesn’t have to require mandatory participation? As in sales, it’s a matter of overcoming common hurdles.
From our experience, here are the most common challenges in conducting effective sales training, along with our two cents on how to overcome them:
- Attention. An all day, classroom-style training seminar used to be the only option for training, regardless of its effectiveness. Using the latest technology in online animation and interactivity, trainers are in a position to make elearning content so engaging (and—dare we say—fun?) that students can’t help but pay attention. Tip: Make your training dynamic based on how the student responds to questions. Kind of like Choose Your Own Adventure.
- Retention. On average, learners only retain 10-30% of material presented to them in a classroom-style training session. Confounding the situation further, sales professionals are jugglers with so many balls in the air it can be hard to focus on anything not directly related to the next sale. Improve retention rates by avoiding information overload. Tip: Keep learning content short and deliver it in chunks over time, rather than in one sitting.
- Application.You know what happens more often than not? Learners walk out of training and promptly return to their old, tried-and-true practices. It can be hard to drive changes in behavior. If you want your sales team to do things a different way, make sure to revisit the suggested method often. Tip: Hold your team accountable for using new techniques by tracking and sharing success stories.
- Distraction. Email. Pings. Texts. Phone calls. Social networking. Mysterious voicemails without a corresponding missed call. All are things a salesperson wants access to 24/7. But, these are learning detractors and if a salesperson is distracted, there’s a slim chance he or she will retain anything you’ve taught. Tip: Follow up. Create a learning campaign that touches base with students and keeps material fresh and in front of their eyes. Reiteration makes things stick.
- Location. Are your salespeople located within a reasonably short drive of your office? More likely, they are spread out across a state, region, or even nationally. A cross-country round-trip flight isn’t cheap these days, so you know how costly it can be to conduct in-person sales training. Then there’s that urge to make training longer in order to justify flying everyone out, right? Modern eLearning technology can deliver comprehensive training to employees regardless of where they sit, saving thousands in travel expenses. Tip: Take this a step further and make training accessible from any computer or mobile device, encouraging employees to participate when it best fits their schedule.
- Customization. There are some similarities in the sales role across industries, but there are also many differences. There are also differences in training people of different ages or experience. Don’t assume a general, one-size-fits-all approach will work for everyone on your sales team. As in marketing, segment your audience and tailor your content accordingly. Tip: For example, you might separate your sales team by age or experience. Salespeople educated in the consultative approach won’t want to review the basics again, but others who came up using a different technique would benefit from that training.
If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.