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In Part I of our series on increasing sales productivity with microlearning, we reviewed the difference between training and learning. In Part II, I’d like to make some recommendations on how to improve sales learning which will result in increased sales productivity. First off, let’s review the definitions of training and learning specifically:

  • Training is teaching skills that relate to specific useful competencies.
  • Learning is the act of acquiring new skills and may involve synthesizing different types of information.

You can train a sales rep how to enter an opportunity into the CRM system, but salespeople need to learn how to have value-added conversations with a prospective customer. Salespeople don’t get overly excited about being trained, but they get very excited about learning something new – especially when that “learning” directly impacts their income as in the case of winning sales.

The best way to accelerate the “learning curve experience” is to create a system for sharing new information with reps using microlearningsshort, focused pieces of content designed to facilitate learning at the time that the referenced knowledge and information is needed.

In the table below, which column, training classes or microlearnings, do you think will have the greatest impact on helping your salespeople close more business?

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The training classes listed above are all necessary competencies for the salesperson to perform their job, but the microlearnings highlight the knowledge that’s required to conduct value-added conversations. And value-added conversations lead to winning business.

What’s more, microlearnings are timely. Salespeople can always get help with pricing configurations when they get back to the office – but they better know about their #1 competitor’s new product announcement when they’re directly asked about it in a client meeting.

Companies are beginning to recognize the need to evolve their sales training programs and are rethinking how learning & development affects their overall productivity levels. There’s a reason they don’t call it the training curve; training will not affect productivity as much as learning.

Creating an effective microlearning system is as easy as A-B-C

According to CSO Insights, B2B salespeople spend up to 35% of their time searching for or creating content to advance their sales. A lot of this time is spent looking for the learnings that will allow them to add value to their conversations and win. Harness the knowledge your team is finding every day on their own, and turn it into an effective and efficient system of sharing microlearnings with the sales team to increase productivity.

Our approach to creating an effective microlearning system is simple, which is why we call it the A-B-C Microlearning Package. For this example, I’ll use the first topic on the list of microlearnings in the table listed above, “Insights on our top competitor’s new product.”

A – Capture the “main/raw” content. In this instance, it’s probably a press release or marketing campaign announcement from your competitor about their new product. It could be in the form of a blog, a video posted on YouTube, a PDF or even a PowerPoint posted on Slideshare.

B – Have a subject-matter-expert (SME) speak to the “raw content” to provide the essential meaning or takeaways for the salespeople. This should ideally be a few paragraphs of text highlighting your messaging/positioning against the new product and its shortcomings (“their new offering still isn’t as good as ours because it’s missing X, Y and Z”).

C – Ask the sales rep a question or two. Asking a few questions causes the sales reps to think about what was just shared, what it means, and how to use this new information. Having the reps answer a few questions about the content has two benefits: critically thinking about the content helps the reps internalize the information, and the aggregated answers provide sales management with insights on both when the information is being received and how well .

The best way to deliver these microlearnings is to broadcast them to all the reps on the communication channels that work best for your company. That could be email, an SMS text, your CRM system, a sales enablement system, etc. The microlearnings should be tagged and centrally managed in such a way that salespeople can access them anytime in the future when the need occurs.

It’s as easy as A-B-C:

A = Capture
B = SME Take-aways
C = Questions

Parts B & C are easy…. Every company has the SME’s to provide commentary and select the right questions to ascertain whether they’ve “got-it.” The most significant part of implementing microlearning is Part A, ensuring you’re capturing valuable “raw content” to share with the sales team. Once you start sharing the learnings that accelerate their earnings they’ll want more.

With millennials approaching 50% of the workforce, in Part III of this blog I’ll discuss the importance of creating an optimized learning culture for your sales team to support this “self-directed” learning generation.