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To Harness Informal Learning and Drive ROI, Adopt Formal Processes to Capture It

Though we’re not always conscious of it, we benefit from informal learning every day—in our homes, workplaces and on the road. 

Informal learning is driven by mobile devices. For example: while on vacation we check out Yelp to find the right restaurant. Or, if the kitchen faucet starts leaking before guests arrive, we consult YouTube for fast tips on how to fix it. This is how learning and readiness in our lives outside of work feels: it’s peer-driven, it happens just in the nick of time, and it feels totally informal.

But surprisingly, many sales organizations have yet to harness the power of this kind of learning at work. Although research shows that 90% of employee learning occurs through informal means, the average company devotes the lion’s share of its training resources to classroom-based, formal training sessions and courses.

Creating Order from ‘Chaos’

There are two main reasons for this: (1) many companies still cling to a desktop (vs. mobile) worldview; and (2) many haven’t figured out a way to “bring order to chaos”–to transform random “teachable moments” into a more structured program.

An agile approach to informal learning empowers sales trainers, managers and reps to create learning content themselves: bite-sized videos (and other content) that are easy to produce, access and digest: anywhere and anytime. With agile approaches, users also receive built-in tools to help implement a formal process for distributing and prioritizing the content, as well as monitoring engagement with it.

Suddenly, a frenetic galaxy of randomly occurring Eureka moments becomes a manageable informal learning program.

What Makes for Agile Content?

Informal learning is predicated on agile content – highly engaging and valuable information that enablement professionals, managers, marketing and product experts, and especially the reps themselves can quickly and easily produce.

At Allego, we’ve found that video is the best medium for communicating useful content, particularly videos generated by reps in the field.

Often, the best videos are two to three minutes in length, and made by reps who’ve just returned to their cars after scoring big wins and are eager to share their approaches. Other great videos may be produced by reps who’ve just encountered a new customer objection or learned of a competitor’s new product. These videos can serve as an effective “crowdsourcing” technique, allowing a rep to solicit advice and expertise from a wide array of peers.

A rep who just encountered a sudden change of plans before an important call might even duck out to make a quick video requesting emergency advice, and then return armed with “peer reviewed” responses.

Collaborative learning doesn’t get more agile than this.

Creating a Video

The process of creating a video can be as simple as pointing a smartphone in your direction and pressing record. And creating something more compelling is almost as simple.

Let’s say you’re a product marketing professional in an organization supporting a sales team, and you’ve learned that a key competitor has turned off half the functionality on their mobile app. To get this news and your analysis to the team, just open up your smartphone or tablet. With one click you can select text, slides or other collateral documents to include with the video. Then start recording:

YOU

“Hi, Team. Just wanted to give you a quick update. We created this new graphic to help with your presentations against XYZ competitor. They turned off all of the mobile functionality for their current customers, so this graphic will walk you through the situation and how to frame it in conversations with your prospects …

With a couple more clicks, you stop recording and share the video with your team.

When the video is shared, everyone on the distribution list immediately receives a push notification on their mobile devices with a link to the video. In turn, you receive confirmation that the message was delivered, and from there you sit back and watch as reps and managers engage with the content on their mobile devices: watching the video, ‘@mention’-ing one another within it, and posting comments and discussion threads right within the timeline at specific points throughout.

From there, the software surfaces the relevant content and insights that came out of this impromptu collaboration, and makes them available for others to learn from in the moment of need based on the specific attributes of the deal they are currently pursuing.