December 28, 2016

Sales Training 2017 Outlook: Content, Access and Relevance

Written by Stephanie Hadley

Sales Training Outlook.jpeg

Sales training is a $5 billion dollar industry, according to Sales Performance International and companies spend as much as $30,000 or more training individual sales reps.

We know that sales training is big business with big investments.In 2016, sales trainers realized that the high cost instructor-led training sessions that take sales teams out of the field and seat them in conference rooms was ineffective.  In its place sales trainers relied more on sales coaches and peer leaders,  social media and gamification.

The sales training outlook for 2017 includes many of the same initiatives that were introduced in 2016. However, in 2017 these sales training programs will be more fully implemented with greater participation levels from sales teams. As a result, sales trainers will see an increased return on investment in their overall training spend.  By switching away from costly events to one-on-one, or self-paced training labs, sales trainers will deliver far more instruction, offer much more in-depth knowledge and ultimately, have a greater impact on closed business.

Here are five key elements that will play a big role in sales training in 2017.

1. Content is (Still) King

Whether delivered via instructor-led training sessions or online, in 2017 content will still be king. Sales trainers must provide good, high-quality, highly relevant content or risk the worst fate - being ignored by the sales team. In online sales training there is a greater need for short, engaging and easy-to-consume content delivered via secure, enterprise YouTube or a secure content delivery system.  In fact, in 2017 more sales training content will be needed than ever before, as sales reps have become increasingly adept at content consumption.Learning paths, which can turn sales reps into experts in the field, require in-depth information delivered in measured sections. 

2. Time is Money

Time is money is a cliche, but it is also true for many sales reps. As they rush from one sales meeting to the next a rep may have just five minutes to catch up on the latest product information or review a relevant industry success story. That is how  just-in-time situational sales training will turn five minutes into thousands of dollars worth of commission in 2017. We know that when reps can easily access short training videos and content right when they need it, they are more successful. They are also more likely to retain what they learn. 

3. Accessibility Equals Capability 

Of course it does no good if great content is available for just-in-time learning if it is not accessible. In 2017, sales trainers will put a bigger focus on making learning tools, content and video easily accessible via mobile apps with offline access. Offline accessibility is critical to reps who are unable to rely on high quality internet access, whether travelling internationally or driving through a dead spot. 

4. Search and Discover

With accessibility a major theme in 2017, and content production at all time highs, it is no wonder that search will be a priority for sales trainers in 2017. In fact, a major theme for sales trainers this coming year will be"learning at the speed of search" which means making content easily discoverable via Amazon-like advanced search and filtering functions. 

5. Strategic Direction

This will also be the year that sales trainers tightly align eLearning with strategic business goals, ensuring that appropriate content is promoted at the right time to helps reps sell solutions that fit within the company‚Äôs strategic priorities. In 2017 sales trainers will use eLearning tools like gamification and promotions to encourage sales reps to engage in  content that matters to corporate growth. 

Sales training in 2017 will be all about making it easy for sales reps to learn, use and retain knowledge.

 

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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