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October 5, 2018

Improve Sales Performance with Bite-Sized Content, Reinforcement, and Informal Learning

In Part 1 of this series summarizing Allego’s webinar: 5 Modern Learning Principles To Drive Higher Sales Performance, we examined ways to make sales learning content more personalized, as well as easier and faster to create (Principles #1 and #2).

Here, we’ll look at ways to make content bite-sized and continuous so that it’s easier to digest, explore methods to reinforce learning, and learn how to deliver ongoing informal learning. Here are the three remaining modern learning principles you need to know.

Bite-sized and Continuous Learning

If you follow the chunk-sequence-layer approach to content creation, you already know how to break learning units into more bite-sized chunks than classroom learning. But you don’t have to stop there: you can subdivide these larger bites into smaller ones, and then continually distribute this content as short videos.

You could also record presentations at national sales meetings and onboarding sessions, chop them into one- or two-minute videos, and make them available in a video library or other channels so that reps can access them whenever they want.

In medical device sales, for example, reps will often consume content specific to their upcoming meeting while they’re on the way to the hospital or waiting to speak with a prospect. This is a convenient – and painless – way to make relevant content available on a just-in-time basis.

To help translate this type of micro-learning into real-world results, consider teaching by workflow and process. For example, if you wanted someone to learn Microsoft Windows, you could open up the program and teach them what’s in the File menu, the Edit menu, etc. Or you could say, “Let’s create a document. You want a title? Here’s how to do it. Want a table of contents? Here’s how to do that.” This gives the learner a more relevant experience that doesn’t overwhelm them.

Sales Training Reinforcement

Teaching new knowledge and skills don’t mean a thing if reps forget most of what they just learned. To ensure that information is retained and applied, forward-thinking companies use digital technology to push out quizzes and exercises to the field – a few each day. This activates the “testing effect,” forcing reps to practice retrieving the information from memory.

At medical device manufacturer BD, for example, the training team will extract, say, 10 or 12 questions from the existing training materials, put them into a spreadsheet, and upload them to Allego Flash Drills to auto-generate decks of flashcards. The system pushes these to reps on an individualized basis using machine learning so they can spend 30 or 60 seconds each day getting personalized reinforcement.

Not long ago, the company did this for a new product launch. They put together certification videos for the salespeople and got them to send them back videos of themselves presenting the product or a piece of regulation germane to it. Then they used the flashcards model to reinforce reps’ knowledge about technical aspects of the new device. As a result, they saw a much faster time to revenue after the launch, with reps gaining higher levels of proficiency. By contrast, during an earlier product launch, the training team had to go into the field for three months to coach each rep for several days.

Ongoing Informal Learning

Ongoing informal learning is the kind of hands-on learning (experiential learning) that takes place in the field. It’s about institutionalizing the kind of “hallway conversations” between reps and subject-matter experts (SMEs)  that create those “aha!” moments, where reps are now able to internalize and use proven concepts in their pitches and customer conversations.

Your goal is to make this happen more often – to bottle it and exercise more control over it. For example, one medical device manufacturer requested that their SMEs create videos about their products, answering questions like, “How do you handle this concern” or “How do you talk about this product or product feature?”

In response, reps received short (three- to five-minute) videos, giving each one some virtual  “face time” with the experts in a very scalable way.

Put these 5 principles together and you’ve created a sales learning system that will help you drive behavior change and improve sales results.

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