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Overcoming Fears to Embrace Informal Learning

 

In a previous post we took a closer look at thinking holistically about employee development and embracing the informal learning activities people not only prefer but seek out on their own. Any strategy that ignores this 90% of professional learning already taking place outside the confines of structured learning programs is missing a tremendous opportunity to elevate sales rep performance across the most critical metrics.

But change is still often scary, even when accepted as the right path forward.  So, let’s take a stab at alleviating the two most common fears.

#1 fear: “losing control” of the message

Leaders sometimes struggle to accept that the sales cycle isn’t the closed loop of highly structured engagements we all wish it were. Prospects have varying needs, opinions, and ways of processing information and formalizing their decisions. Factor in today’s shifting competitive landscapes and market disruptions, and a quagmire of nuances appears that reps must navigate to push deals forward.

Expecting reps to succeed using a new corporate message without refining and evolving as they go is unrealistic. What is realistic is that your sales force will take what you’ve given them and make it their own, and even come up with something more targeted as they engage in further conversations. They are the ones possessing the richest set of experiences with buyers, and know better than anyone how customers are responding to the messaging. Give reps a seat at the table where they can share, compare, and collaborate to strengthen the messaging and feel empowered to act decisively when it matters.

#2 fear: getting started

You can picture an ideal state that’s possible for your organization to achieve, but without a script for the first several moves, and some clear guiding policies, the idea of actually implementing these systems seems daunting.

At this point, there’s a road-map, so it’s easier to achieve compelling value realization and measurable ROI than ever. Hundreds of thousands of salespeople and support staff are already being supported in this way across a variety of organizations in sectors like Financial Services, Life Sciences, and Technology.

Step 1 – Empower everyone in the organization to contribute learning content.

Content creation that’s agile is how the process thrives. By empowering reps, SMEs, managers, and others with the ability to capture and share quick, simple, but highly relevant ideas on videos, organizations disseminate the next best ideas, updates, and competitive information in a continuous stream. To ensure success, organizations should make it easy for anyone to create and contribute content to the system. It’s hard enough to generate good ideas, so capturing and sharing them should be easy. That’s why video capture is so important, because of how easy it is to capture the richness of an idea by simply touching a record button and expressing it as if you were talking directly to someone. From there, simplify, simplify, simplify and be rewarded with an agile content machine collecting and sharing the best organizational knowledge so everyone benefits from the collective wisdom.

Step 2 – Institute a vetting process that makes sense for you

With everyone contributing to the cause, it’s important to implement a vetting process that’s appropriate for your culture. There are numerous sharing models available when implementing a system like this, complete with approval workflows and even regulatory compliance tools for certain industries. And even with the least restrictive guidelines, good “corporate citizens” will always act responsibly with their communications. We see this with email access, where users have the means to do some crazy stuff (like blast the whole company) and they simply don’t. They’re professionals.

On the other end of the spectrum, organizations opt for imposing limits on who can share or how that content can be accessed. Determine the right starting point for your organization, but don’t be surprised if you enter a pilot with one set of expectations and go company-wide with something completely different. We’ve seen this with several clients in the asset management and insurance industries. 

Step 3 – Automate the heavy lifting

You can’t launch a system that’s fresh day one and slowly goes stale over time. Just as important as a simple process for creating content, content sourcing, curation, packaging, and distributing content must also be simple when using the system across a large enterprise. Here is where automation bears the burden of maintaining the infrastructure. Automation ensures efficiency, accuracy, and relevancy by curating, distributing, and recommending the right content based on contextual needs—all while intelligently archiving expired content as you go. With automation keeping the machine optimized, reps benefit from on-demand access when they need it most, and all stakeholders can stay focused on content, collaboration, and continuous learning and improvement.

It’s been our experience that fear of change—fear of losing control—is usually outweighed by an organization’s confidence in its employees to know what’s best for their own day-to-day job success. Here at Allego, we have a deep belief people come to work every day with the intent to do a great job. It’s that belief that motivates sales learning and readiness companies like us to put the employees at the center of our approach, empowering them with the tools to be more productive every day.