January 11, 2017

Learning Paths Take Sales Training to Reps in the Field

Written by Stephanie Hadley

Sales Rep.png

According to Salesforce.com, a sales rep spends 67 percent of their time doing something besides selling. We know all too well that a good chunk of that time is spent on reporting, but another significant portion of it is spent in training sessions. Too often those training sessions are in-person, large group training sessions designed to provide the greatest amount of information to the most people in one sitting.

These impersonal sales training sessions can be an accomplishment just to complete, but they are not likely to leave the sales reps feeling accomplished or,  well trained.

At this point we all understand the disadvantages of the traditional large conference room sales training session, compared to eLearning. These events take reps out of the field, and away from customers and prospects. The reps only retain a small fraction of what they learn, and often learn information they do not need to sell to their clients, in their region, or industry. These large training sessions are expensive, impersonal, and mostly ineffective.

We know that there are two keys to effective learning:

1. Make it Personal 

Training content needs to be personally relevant and relatable. A shared case study or success story from a sales peer will give a sales rep a much greater understanding of the material than a summary of values and benefits delivered via an instructor.

2. Use it or Lose it 

Most people will forget information if they do not use it within two weeks. Sales reps are just like any other learner in that they must “learn by doing.” For that reason sales reps are much more likely to retain information when they learn something that they can use immediately prior to a sales meeting or sales call. 

So how do we accomplish this type of training? A more effective way to train sales reps is to meet them where they are - in the field, in  a coffee shop, on an airplane - with information they need in the moment. There are two effective eLearning tools that allow sales reps to learn, without calling them back to the conference room. 

Learning Paths

Learning paths are self-directed online learning journeys. Each learning path can be customized by the sales rep and his or her manager to cover the exact information and training that the sales reps needs, and eliminate any training they do not need. Learning paths incorporate virtual labs, quizzes, videos and other online tools to keep learning interesting, and to keep the sales rep engaged.

Just-In-Time, Situational Training

Just-in-time (JIT), situational learning programs recognize that sales reps sometimes need to acquire knowledge on the go. Sometimes sales reps have only five minutes in a Starbucks around the corner from their next big meeting. JIT training makes short podcasts, videos, case studies and user experiences available both online and offline, and on mobile devices for sales reps to get a "jolt of knowledge, with their shot of caffeine" right before the meeting.


Stephanie Hadley

Stephanie Hadley is a professional writer and marketer with more than 20 years experience in learning and development and customer success. Her work has appeared on behalf of clients in national business magazines and training industry journals. Stephanie holds a Bachelors of Science in Public Relations from the SI Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University.

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