COVID-19 has forced many organizations to adopt online sales training models for remote sales teams. Let’s explore how you can create an effective online sales training program for your remote sales team.
What Strategies Should You Consider for Your Online Sales Training Program?
Great leaders understand that their company’s most important asset is its people, and the most important investment in people is effective training. Improving a sales team’s knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) lead to higher profits.
The first step in designing a successful online sales training program is to identify the organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs should inform the metrics you design your training program around. A training needs analysis will help you determine those metrics in order to ensure that the solution will actually close performance gaps.
What Approach Should You Take for Your Online Sales Training Program?
The premise of an effective online sales training program should be to:
- Provide access to training anywhere, anytime.
- Ensure that information is current and that updates reach learners quickly.
- Facilitate recall and retention (i.e., “sticky learning”).
- Help learners apply what they learn on the job.
- Provide a safe space for practice.
- Provide feedback that helps learners improve.
- Provide room for reinforcement.
Consider the following strategies when building an online sales training program for your remote sales team:
Use a blend of self-paced eLearning augmented with interactive assessments and practice sessions, and apply components of role-play and scenario-based discussions in virtual instructor-led training (VILT) sessions. You can also share tips and guidelines after those sessions in the form of downloadable resources and job aids.
Virtual Instructor-led Training
Leverage VILT sessions to cover topics that require live conversation and in-depth questions.
Before the pandemic, salespeople typically interacted with their co-workers in person. Now that face-to-face interaction is limited, online sales training programs can reduce the barriers that may exist in a remote sales team. Leveraging live VILT practice and role-play sessions moderated by trainers, managers and coaches, cohorts of team members can interact with each other. Those interactive sessions can also include immediate feedback, creating a healthy learning loop that includes direct instruction, application, and practice with feedback and remediation.
Real-time Tracking, Remediation and Support
Managers can monitor online sales training programs in real time, enabling them to watch their teams progress. Then, they can schedule coaching sessions for team members who are struggling or recommend additional supplemental modules within the online sales training program.
Online Sales Training: Learning Strategies
Microlearning is a great way to support product upskilling, helping salespeople learn to match products to customer problems. It is also useful for deep dives into customer profiles. Microlearning can also support core learning on topics such as negotiation skills and communication, particularly when it uses video content.
Scenario-based simulations can enrich online sales training programs for remote sales teams and are effective ways to teach both product knowledge and sales skills. Simulations can incrementally build on previous modules, painting a rich product profile.
Just-in-time Learning Aids
Don’t forget the most important element of an online sales training program: just-in-time training and information stored in a knowledge base. Because remote sales team members can’t ask questions over cubicle walls, they need easy access to accurate information. Building a knowledge base creates an opportunity for just-in-time training that salespeople can leverage when they need it, even while interacting with customers.
Consider offering personalized learning paths based on learners’ proficiency.
Videos are effective for both formal learning and performance support. Take it a step further by choosing interactive video content.
Leveraging Mobile Learning for Remote Sales Team Training
The effectiveness of mobile learning for sales training lies in its ability to embrace the entire spectrum of a sales team’s learning needs. With mobile learning, you can create a sales toolkit that salespeople can use at their moment of need. Content in this toolkit might include:
- Videos or newsletters released prior to rolling out a new training program, highlighting “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) and the value the program brings for the learner.
- Product fact sheets.
- Reports and ongoing dynamic updates on the market and the competition.
- Learning and job aids, such as help on how to differentiate and how to handle competition.
- “Cheat sheets” or FAQs on topics such as handling objections, negotiating or closing a deal.
- Tips for upselling or cross-selling.
- Case studies or success stories.
- Assets like podcasts for skill enhancement.
- Collaborative learning with peers or more senior team members.
- Curated learning sources.
Enhancing the Impact of Your Online Sales Training Programs
In addition to the strategies listed here, there are many additional tactical strategies to consider when building an online sales training program:
First, consider gamification, which is an easy way to motivate employees to successfully progress through a training program. Leveraging gamification in sales training can challenge learners and keep the competitive aspect of the sales environment alive during the training. These kinds of programs can also include microlearning and assessments.
Too often, assessments are large, formal affairs. However, a simple question or single scenario can assess employees without their even noticing. Their progress through those micro-assessments can be tracked in a learning management system (LMS) and used to feed into training metrics. Their progress through those micro-assessments can be tracked in a learning management system (LMS) and used to feed into training metrics.
Sales enablement helps salespeople understand a customer’s need and match it with the correct product. Most remote sales teams now have more than one product at their disposal, and it’s vital that they know which one to position, enhancing not only the initial sale but customer onboarding and retention.
Finally, while microlearning is effective, longform learning is compelling, too. Modalities such as podcasts — content that learners can consume while working out or running errands — have proven to be popular.
Most sales teams are now remote, and sales training needs to move to a model that accommodates this shift. With the right training, many organizations are finding that the remote sales model has improved their prospects instead of hindering them. Using the strategies and tips outlined in this article will help you build effective online sales training for your remote sales team.