The first article of this series shared pre-launch best practices and key considerations on how to pitch your technology solution to your leadership. Assuming your program and technology buy-in is complete, there are several opportunities to ensure implementation and adoption of your new technology are successful. These best practices include (1) ways to experiment and deliver real-time learning outside of the classroom and (2) best practices for gaining buy-in and adoption by the sales team.
Evaluate the timing of the technology launch.
Avoid sales cycles when planning and execution are at their peak, such as end-of-quarter reviews or end-of-year sales closings. These standing planning timeframes will impact adoption rates and make the experience more stressful—and perhaps less effective. Monitor your training calendar, major company events, team trips and other times of year that might conflict with getting the best turnout and usage rates.
When applying the new technology, be creative with how you encourage technology use and adoption, especially if there is a way to incentivize or gamify the technology. When that is an option, use competition as platform for engagement. After all, sales professionals have two things in common: competition and a drive to hit their targets. Put a competition in front of them (for prizes or brand recognition), and see it take off.
Also, be creative with how you structure the teams and determine which will compete together more effectively or drive adoption. Don’t discount the power of groups; people selling in the same market or country often have a group cohesion that will bind them and increase their engagement across offices or teams.
Increase engagement through champions.
To ensure the highest adoption rates, it’s critical to recruit and train passionate professionals who are equally excited about experimenting with a new technology, especially if your sales team is spread across different states or countries. These subject matter experts are often the individuals who raise their hands to help you with learning or speaking opportunities. They might even be the person who tends to offer to be a buddy to new hires. After the effort is over, be sure to thank them for their help and showcase their hard work. Praise them with fun swag and leadership recognition.
Create a communication timeline and plan.
This cannot be overstated enough: Communication needs to happen around all activities before, during and after the launch. This is true for all of your stakeholders: leadership, champions, sales managers and even your own learning team, since they will need to stay in involved and aware of your progress. Given the amount of time invested and interest in seeing the trial results, be sure to also outline clear expectations of all people involved, proposed competition elements and final metrics you will use to judge the quality of the technology. Create a clear communication timeline outlining the points when you will update everyone. Don’t forget to keep your sales learners up to date on the competition results in order to encourage their engagement and create a sense of urgency.
Track and measure success.
Success metrics are critical to demonstrating that a trial is a worthwhile investment of time and money. One main reason for selecting technologies with good reporting capabilities is the ability to quickly pull data around the proposed learning technology solution and showcase the impact to the frontline sales team.
If you decide to use knowledge reinforcement tools, you will likely want to look at metrics such as usage rates (how many people completed the learning), training proficiency increases (what percentage of knowledge improved over time—first time responses versus second time exposure rates), and qualitative feedback on the learning experience (captured in interviews, focus groups or surveys). If you use a technology with more behavioral reinforcement components, you will want to create a standard rating rubric so that reviewers are consistent when scoring. Additional measurements can include other in-house metrics to demonstrate impact, which might be available in your CRM. Before going down this route, be sure that you have the right partnerships in place with your sales operations team so they can help you track and measure these metrics over time.
Overall, learning technologies can make sales enablement efforts significantly more impactful, especially around post-training reach and content reinforcement, and they help concepts go much further.
What technologies have worked for you? What learning technologies will you try in 2017? Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter @TRPoeppelman.