There is a proportional relationship between staff performance and the workload of an L&D professional: As staff performance decreases, our workload increases. We are often asked to fix something that doesn’t work and then expected to create a solution that makes everything better. Training that results from such short-sighted requests is often just temporarily masking staff’s inabilities until someone realizes that things still don’t work and another training session is prescribed. This use case can often be seen on sales teams: If sales numbers are low, managers ask for training in order to increase quarterly numbers.
A Day in the Life of a Salesperson
Here’s a scenario: Sales numbers aren’t where they should be. It’s the second month of the quarter, and the sales manager decides that her team needs refresher training on a product. Typically, we put the team in a room, present the content in a boring PowerPoint presentation, follow up with a pop quiz and hope for the best.
There are, of course, some major flaws with this approach. For starters, one size doesn’t fit all, and we can’t prescribe training that no one is interested in, despite its importance to the business. It is your responsibility to create excitement around your content and explain the “why” behind it. Consider taking a page out of marketing’s playbook in order to promote your content through emails, in departmental newsletters or across your intranet site.
We often don’t consider the possibility that one salesperson knows a lot about certain features of the product already, but others don’t. Why do we ask this person to sit through an entire session of which only a certain percent is relevant? Instead, review each salesperson’s records and identify where and why he or she is losing deals. Based on these data, you can tailor the training to each individual and offer just-in-time content. For example, you could build short learning units that cover different parts of the product and only require learners to participate in the relevant units.
Delivering Just-in-Time Content for L&D Performance
We are stuck in the past, believing that someone will only learn something if he or she is sitting in front of us. With technology advancements, however, it is easier to deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time and also to measure its effectiveness.
Chances are your salesperson already knows a good deal about the product from previous training, conversations with product managers or informal huddles. You can create microlearning units and program a chatbot to send information in a predefined flow at a certain time. The learners decide if, when and how they will leverage the information: Do they need a refresher, or should they wait for the next piece of content?
Alternatively, you can program the chatbot to answer “what,” “why” and “how” questions related to the product. When the learner needs the answer to a particular feature, he or she can simply ask the bot. The chatbot needs to be trained and will learn as you go, but it’s a much more fluid experience. The just-in-time delivery will help the learner to be successful in the moment of highest need: when he or she is on the phone with a client and quickly needs an answer.
Become an L&D Hero
In the past, marketing efforts were hard to measure, but marketers quickly picked up on automation and embraced data to make more informed decisions. This, by the way, also made them a key player at the table. L&D is still behind the curve when it comes to delivering the right content at the right time and leveraging data to design learning that sticks. Follow marketing’s example, and become an L&D hero who has a place at the table, by moving away from one- size-fits-all toward just-in-time content that makes a real difference to the learner.