In today’s fast-paced sales environment, where learning and development (L&D) professionals are competing against many priorities, it’s become increasingly important to engage learners in new ways, both inside and outside of the classroom. Not only do L&D leaders need to compete for reps’ attention, but demonstrating clear benefits to the business and sales team is critical as well. As many learning consultants are finding, creating new and engaging learning experiences is the key to success in any learning or sales environment. With the advent of dozens of technologies that specialize in this process, it’s important to consider the right tools and strategies in order to make training stick and reach learners at the right time.

The benefits of using learning technologies in sales organizations are vast. Here are just a few:

  • Accelerated learning to increase knowledge and impact behavior
  • Higher engagement outside of the classroom
  • Increased collection of learning data for training measurement
  • Improved reporting capabilities for learning professionals to inform their long-term strategy
  • Actionable insights for managers to reinforce learning through real-time data and opportunities for sales coaching
  • Reaching learners in remote locations with a common shared experience

In this two-part series, the first article will cover best practices for pitching a technology to your organizational leaders and preparing for implementation. The second article will focus on best practices for effectively launching, ensuring adoption of and employing the technology.

When implementing new learning technologies, there are a few considerations to consider up front.

Select the right technology platforms.

During the selection process, it’s important to think about the learners and which aspects of a technology will have the desired impact on the sales team. If the objective is to reinforce content across a busy sales team, try solutions that post or share content in a timely manner and automate aspects of the post-training process. Reaching team members outside of email is key to grabbing the attention of your sales force. For behavior training, find a solution that offers practice opportunities in a safe environment, especially when you have new product narratives and sales pitches available. Above all, select a tool that has great metrics and analysis capabilities to save time on post-training analyses.

Determine the right training opportunity to use the new technology.

Given the time commit of deploying and leveraging technologies for a sales environment, it’s important to ensure that you select major business priorities or big sales enablement opportunities that you think could benefit from content reinforcement. For example, if your company is looking to penetrate new markets and reach new clients, you could train on custom narratives that unlock revenue potential. If you want to share best practices for conducting upfront client reviews, you could train on annual reports or financial acumen. Technologies that reinforce content through multiple-choice or scenario-based questions will remind the sales team of key concepts to remember.

Gain leadership support.

Leaders or managers may not buy in to the idea of a new technology right out of the gate, so first, find your champions at all levels to invest in trying out the tool. Run the numbers and look at small trial period costs. Most off-the-shelf vendors will take the opportunity to let you sample the product they believe in. Additionally, think about the success metrics to measure on the back of the proposed trial, such as usage rates, proficiency increases or other in-house metrics you have available in your CRM.

When meeting with leadership, be sure to agree on those metrics and assure them if the technology doesn’t work, everyone is open to completely throwing it out. After all, no one wants to spend time and money on something that the sales team doesn’t use or like. By doing your homework in advance, you will demonstrate preparedness and thoughtful consideration. Also, be sure to highlight those dedicated team members eager to help; their support will make leaders feel more confident in the investment.

Gain sales rep buy-in.

As a foundational basis, begin to think about how to create a testing culture in your organization. It’s critical to make sure you scope the feasibility and desirability of embedding technology within your sales team. One way to learn who is open is to ask a few sales leads if they would be amenable to trying something new. Position the pitch by sharing “what’s in it for them” and what you will commit to in order to ensure its success. This is also your opportunity to pilot the technology with those exceptionally engaged individuals who are excited about the opportunity to try something new and who want to serve as champions to help you get it off the ground.

These are just a few key considerations that should make your preparations smooth and your leadership confident in your proposal. Part two of this series will share best practices on post-implementation to ensure your launch is successful.

What technologies you are considering, and what challenges have you faced in gaining buy-in to try new approaches in your organization? Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter @TRPoeppelman.