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November 13, 2018

5 Reasons for Sales Trainers To Adopt Modern Learning Systems

In Back to the Future, protagonist Marty McFly encounters a phenomenon familiar to many new sales reps – the “Shock of the Old.”

Of course, Marty was thrust from the world of PCs, VCRs, and cordless phones (1985) into one where crisply uniformed Texaco attendants scramble to clean the windshields, check the oil, and fill the tanks of vintage cars (1955). By contrast, today’s sales reps are transported from the realm of smartphones and digital apps – commonplace features in their personal lives – to training environments where these tools don’t yet exist.

Off the job, reps can acquire new knowledge and skills with the press of a button. In their professional lives, however, they are often trained with outdated tools and techniques. They can’t access learning systems on the go; they have no way to practice pitches in the field; and they rarely receive coaching at the exact moment they need it most.

The Case for Modern Learning

Modern learning systems are a better way to train and coach your sales reps, and to ensure they retain that learning. Although modern learning programs differ from company to company, all of them are based on 5 key principles:

  1. The content is easy to create and access.

    Whether it takes the form of videos, audio recordings, slides, or text, the learning content must be easy for the training or sales enablement team to continuously create and distribute. To keep up with rapidly changing business environments and the rapid pace of the sales world, you must produce a flow of fresh, relevant content to the field. And reps must be able to access that content whenever they need it and wherever they happen to be – i.e., via their mobile devices.

  2. The content is personalized.

    There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting through a classroom presentation that covers material you already know. Fortunately, we now have the technology to help reps instantly access only the information most relevant to them. For example: using the Allego platform, reps can set up personalized “subscriptions” to select “channels.” Instead of wading through reams of content to find what they need, they can essentially create a customized playlist of best-practice video content.

  3. Learning is continuous and bite-sized.

    We know from long experience that trying to cram a month’s worth of training into a day-long lecture simply doesn’t work. The human brain isn’t designed to absorb and retain that much information in such a short span. The solution? Break the learning into small chunks – one minute, two minutes or three minutes – and deliver it over a longer period. Take the videos captured from meetings, recorded calls, coaching and roleplay exercises, and repurpose them into bite-sized content, including assessments. This allows you to take advantage of learning content that was previously underutilized (if it was used at all). It also lets you spread responsibility for its creation among a variety of new players – top sellers, sales managers, etc.

  4. Reinforcement is a must.

    Without follow-up and reinforcement, the typical rep quickly forgets up to 80% of what they recently learned. To combat this “forgetting curve,” install an automated method for distributing quizzes, exercises and assessments – a “set it and forget it” program. Here’s what it might look like: Your rep is at a Starbucks when they get a push notification on their mobile device, which challenges them to answer a question on a topic they recently learned. They answer the question, and the software instantly tells them whether they answered correctly or not. It sends two or three such questions every day. And because the AI tracks the rep’s subject matter mastery, it will start serving up questions on topics the rep struggles with while decreasing the number of questions on topics they’ve already mastered.

  5. It includes informal learning.

    According to the 70/20/10 model of informal learning, 70% of learning in an organization occurs via hands-on experience. (A sales rep attends a meeting, tests a new message with a prospect, and gauges the response.) Another 20% is peer-to-peer learning, and just 10% takes place in formal, structured environments. Unfortunately, this is where most companies invest all their resources. Modern learning focuses on that under-tapped 70%. For example, if I’m a rep walking into a meeting with a buyer whose market I know little about, I can now pull up a colleague’s video on my phone showing me exactly how to talk to them. With this kind of access to my peers and other subject matter experts, I can now expect to achieve victories that were once long shots.

Of course, the ultimate purpose of modern learning is to produce tangible business results – e.g., increased revenues and lower training costs. In this respect, modern learning systems are already proving their worth, one company at a time.


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