COVID-19 has forced many organizations to adopt online sales training models for remote sales teams. As classroom training becomes unviable, take a look at how you can create an effective online sales training program for your remote sales team.
What Strategies Should You Consider for Your Online Sales Training Program?
It’s natural that organizations are restructuring trainings as teams work remotely. Salespeople no longer take current or prospective customers to lunch (or golfing). Many organizations have found that this model has improved their prospects, instead of hindering them.
So, the question is, how can an organization build a successful online sales training program for remote sales teams?
Great leaders understand that their company’s most important asset is its people. The most important investment in people is effective training. Improving a sales team’s knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) lead to higher profits.
The first step in designing a successful online sales training program is to identify the organization’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs should inform the training metrics for which a training program is designed. A training needs analysis should determine metrics, in order to ensure that the solution actually solves performance gaps.
What Should be the Chosen Approach for Your Online Sales Training Program?
The premise of an effective online sales training program should be to:
- Provide access to training – anywhere, anytime.
- Ensure that info should be current and must be updated quickly, and these updates should proactively reach the learners.
- Facilitate recall and retention (sticky learning).
- Help learners apply the acquired learning on the job.
- Provide room for practice (in a safe zone).
- Provide feedback that can help learners improve.
- Provide room for reinforcement.
Consider the following when building an online sales training program for your remote sales team that ticks all the above-said boxes:
Online Sales Training Program – Delivery and Tracking Strategies
- Blended delivery: Use a mix of self-paced eLearning augmented with interactive assessments, labs, and practices. Apply higher components of role-play and scenario based discussions as part of the VILT sessions. You can also share tips and guidelines post these sessions in the form of downloadable resources and job aids.
- Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT): Leverage these sessions to cover topics that require live conversation and in-depth questions.
- Flipped classrooms: Before the new normal, many salespeople interacted with their co-workers face-to-face. Now that face-to-face interaction is limited, online sales training programs can reduce barriers that otherwise may exist among remote sales teams. Cohorts can interact, leveraging live VILT practice and role-play sessions moderated by trainers, managers, and coaches. Those interactive sessions can be used to include immediate feedback, creating a healthy learning loop that includes direct instruction, application, and practice with feedback and remediation.
- Real-time tracking and remediation/support: Online sales training programs can be monitored in real-time by managers watching a team’s progress. As they check results, they can schedule coaching sessions for those who struggle or recommend additional supplemental modules within an online sales training program.
Online Sales Training Program – Learning Strategies
- Microlearning: It is perfect for technical skills and is also a great way to support product upskilling – allowing salespeople to match the correct product to a customer’s problem. Microlearning can also be used for deep dives into customer profiles. You can also provide core learning on topics such a negotiation skill, customer communication management, and so on through microlearning (mLearning through videos as a primary format).
- Scenario based simulations: They enrich online sales training programs for remote sales teams. Simulations are effective ways to teach both product knowledge and sales practices. Use simulations to incrementally build on previous modules, painting a rich product profile.
- Just-in-time learning aids: Don’t forget what the most important element to an online sales training program might be – just-in-time training and information stored in a knowledge base. Because remote sales team members can’t shout questions over cubicle walls, they need easy access to accurate information. Building a knowledge base creates an opportunity for JIT that salespeople can leverage real-time, even as they interact with customers.
- Personalized learning: You can offer personalized learning paths that can be created by the learners (based on their proficiency).
- Mobile apps: You can opt for mobile apps for learning that enable you to offer a more personalized journey as well as just-in-time updates.
- Videos and interactive video based learning: You can integrate video based learning for both formal learning as well as for performance support. Go a notch higher by choosing interactive video based learning over classic videos.
How Can You Leverage Mobile Learning for Remote Sales Team Training?
The strength of mobile learning for sales training lies in its ability to embrace the entire spectrum of learning needs for the sales teams. Here are 10 noteworthy ways you can apply mobile learning for your sales training.
You can convert these into a Sales Toolkit – that can be used at the moment of need by your remote sales team. They comprise the following:
- Videos or Newsletters prior to the training roll-out – Highlighting What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) and the value the program brings in for the learner.
- Product fact sheets.
- Reports and ongoing dynamic updates on:
- Market dynamics.
- Competition watch.
- Learning aids or instant job aids to pitch – These could include how to differentiate and how to handle competition.
- Cheat sheets or FAQs – on objection handling, negotiation, closure, and so on.
- Tips for upselling or cross-selling.
- Case studies or success stories.
- Reflection zone – Assets like podcasts for skill enhancement.
- Collaborative learning – with peers or seniors.
- Curated learning sources – explore and learn.
What Tips Can Be Used to Further Enhance the Impact of Your Online Sales Training Programs?
In addition to the strategies listed here, there are many tactical tips to consider when building an online sales training program for remote sales teams.
- First, consider Gamification. Gamification is an easy way to motivate employees to successfully progress through learning. You can leverage gamification in sales training in subtle forms to keep the challenge and target achievement aspects of a sales environment alive during the training. These kinds of programs can include microlearning and assessments that remote employees enjoy working through.
- Another tip to consider is micro-assessment. Too often in the L&D profession, assessments are large, formal affairs. However, a simple question, or single scenarios, can be assessed without employees even noticing. Their progress through those micro-assessments can be tracked in an LMS and used to feed into training metrics.
- Leverage sales enablement skills. Sales enablement helps salespeople understand a customer’s need and match it with the correct product they’re selling. Most remote sales teams now have more than one product at their disposal. It’s vital that they learn how to match a customer’s needs with the appropriate tool, enhancing not only sales but onboarding and long-term customer retention.
- Finally, while microlearning and easy-to-consume learning bites are effective, evidence supports how compelling longer-form learning is. Modalities such as podcasts – passive learning that can be accessed while working out or running errands – have proven to be extremely popular.
Most teams are now remote – including sales teams. Accordingly, training needs to move to a model that accommodates this shift. Organizations have found that this model has improved their prospects, instead of hindering them. Using the strategies and tips outlined in this article will help you build effective online sales training for your remote sales teams.
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