5 Building Blocks of an Effective Online Sales Training Program
Sales training is a multi-billion dollar business, with hundreds of millions of employees being trained each year. And 85-90% of training has no lasting impact¹. This means that not only precious man-hours and hard work but also 90% of the money invested goes up in smoke every year. This is because there’s no sync between learning design, its delivery and measurement. Another big reason is decline of memory retention over time. The information consumed gets lost over time when no attempt is made to retain it.
The key to getting your money’s worth out of online sales training programs is not just choosing the right technology, but also how you go about delivering your programs. Also, it is about reinforcing the learning, in order to enhance the durability of information consumed. Here are 5 steps that you can take to enhance the outcome of your sales training initiative:
1. Engage Your Learners Before, During and After Training
Hiring the best trainer is not sufficient. In fact, delivering effective online sales training requires much more than this. You’ll have to work carefully with the participants at each stage – before, during and after training. Pre-training work prepares employees psychologically. To keep them interested and enthusiastic, show them the benefits of undergoing a sales training. Similarly, post-training reinforcement will help them use the knowledge gained and actually bring it into practice.
Here’s what you can do before, during and after a training program:
- Before: Talk with learners to find out where the gaps in their knowledge are. Discuss what you hope everyone will get out of the training.
- During: Once training begins, keep in touch regularly, going over the most important points of each training module. This can help reinforce the knowledge that they gain and keep it fresh.
- After: Then, after training, leave everyone with advanced study materials and exercises that they can complete on their own. Ambitious learners will appreciate the opportunity to continue to home their skills.
2. Customize Training Programs to Fit Your Unique Learners
Training is never one-size-fits-all. Also, it needs to be tweaked over and over to fit to the needs of learners over time. Off-the-shelf programs will often have elements that are not relevant to your business, while missing important information that people in your industry need for success. When you do not customize your program to fit your learners, they’ll be far less engaged. After all, you haven’t taken the time to invest knowledge that meets their needs, so why should they invest their valuable time?
So, what you can do to make learning more effective is:
- Whenever possible, create modules that use real-world examples from your industry. Use case studies so that learners can see the benefits of specific strategies.
- While designing a course, ask them what they would like to see. When you take the time to create what they want, they’ll be more likely to dig in and get the most benefit from your online sales training program.
3. Link Learning Objectives with Strategic Objectives
This is one of the most important aspects of a successful sales training program. However, mostly trainers tend to ignore it. If you are conducting training just for the sake of doing learn it, you are responsible for deteriorating the health of your organization. Not only this, you are not likely putting the funds to much use. Most people learn better when they understand the why as well as the how.
- Keep the bigger goal in mind and work around it. Break it into small, easily achievable goals and design your training program around them.
- Make participants aware of how they can contribute to the achievement of bigger objectives and how important a role they play.
Linking learning to strategy also creates more effective training opportunities. Your learners will have opportunities to put their new knowledge into action immediately upon returning to the field. Chances are better that their training will stick when it becomes actual working knowledge instead of theories taught in a classroom.
4. Measure Learning the Right Way
Success in an online sales training program is nearly always measured in terms of module completion and test scores. These are not metrics that can effectively measure what a learner got out of a course. They don’t show whether they will be able to effectively apply that knowledge to everyday working conditions.
This means that these two criteria to measure learning effectiveness are not enough. It’s difficult to say whether learner is successful based on test scores. Assess them based on their real world results before, during and after the class.
What you can do is:
- Take, as an example, a training in closing sales. Start by looking at their conversion rate before the training begins so that you can set a baseline. Then, look at their conversion rate after they have completed the course and again 120 days later.
It is impossible tell with 100% certainty whether all improvements can be attributed to training. But, you can tell what tends to work and what does not by examining the change in the way they handle customer queries and number of conversions.
5. Engage in Post-Training Reinforcement
Back in 1885, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered that, just as there is a learning curve when gaining a new skill, there is a “forgetting curve” if new information is not reinforced. Within 20 minutes of hearing information for the first time, the average people have forgotten 42% of it. Twenty-four hours later, only about 33% of what was learned remains. After a month, only around 21% of what was taught is still remembered.
What does this show?
- To keep learning fresh, have periodic review sessions. Meet regularly so you can all talk about the important things you learned. Discuss strategies that you have developed on your own based on knowledge from the class. Learning can be an ongoing process.
- Initial and ongoing sales training can produce great results for your learners and your company, but it has to be implemented in a way that is effective. Take care when choosing and creating training courses and make training an integral and ongoing part of your work culture.
Through this, you can create a stronger, more effective sales force with the skills to improve your company’s profits and their own personal success.