Millennials and Generation Z: There’s a lot of focus on these age cohorts – especially when it comes to training employees. Companies widely believe that these groups need special treatment and learning approaches to keep them engaged and teach them new skills.
These younger generations are typically associated with the rise of technology, but the reality is that most of the workforce today is constantly immersed in technology. The prevalence of technology has changed the way all people work and learn, whether they fall into the category of millennials, Gen Z or any of the other generations currently in the workforce.
So, when you’re thinking about training your sales employees, you should avoid focusing on one generation in particular and instead focus on the modern learner. Modern learners typically have a shorter attention span, a need for instant gratification and an “always-on” lifestyle. They are bombarded with information and distractions all day, so it’s critical to design e-learning that meets their needs, drives engagement and maximizes knowledge retention.
Be sure that your online sales training includes the following six components in order to hit home with the modern learner and achieve maximum ROI for your organization.
1. Show Learners What’s in It for Them
One of the largest threats to learning comprehension and motivation is disappointment and distraction. To combat this challenge, it’s important to create training content that motivates learners to embrace learning and change on their own.
Modern learners engage when they know the content is relevant and intended to improve their individual performance. For salespeople, making training relevant might mean showing them up front how it will help them be more effective with prospects and customers and in turn, make more sales. Rather than starting a course by listing its objectives, try grabbing learners’ attention by explaining how it will specifically benefit them in their daily lives. Hitting the learners’ “hot buttons” will hook them right away.
2. Immerse the Learner in a Relatable Environment
When creating online sales training for the modern learner, it’s important to use design techniques that immerse learners in an environment they can relate to. Seeing images, prompts, language and scenarios that mirror their day-to-day working environment will not only keep learners engaged, but it will also make the gap from learning to implementing easier to bridge.
This is one reason why it’s important to customize e-learning when possible. A program that reflects the environment and challenges unique to your team will be more effective and achieve greater ROI than a generic “off the shelf” program.
3. Include High Levels of Interactivity
As humans, we tend to learn best by doing. One important way you can make this happen is through carefully crafted interactions. Interactivity is the “dialogue” that takes place between humans and computer software. The more active the learning is, the better the chance that participants will retain the information and be able to apply it in their daily work routine.
Effective online sales training programs include exercises and learning activities that require the learner to truly engage rather than simply clicking their way through a slide deck. For example, an online sales training program might have participants “meet” a prospect and identify his or her behavior style through a series of interactions set to a timer. This activity mimics how the sales rep should identify a buyer’s style in the real world and is memorable because of the level of interaction required from the learner.
4. Allow the Participant to Learn through Gamification
Whether it’s live instructor-led training or e-learning, incorporating game mechanics makes the training more fun and better received by the learners. The more fun participants have when they’re learning, the more open they become to the instruction, which typically results in more retention, more application and eventually, more success.
Your online sales training should incorporate game mechanics that engage learners and improve their performance. Features such as scoring, badging and racing against a timer add challenge and competition that will make the learning more fun and memorable.
5. Incorporate Storytelling into the Training Content
The human brain is wired for stories. Through neuroscience research, we understand that stories affect how we learn, what we believe, what actions we take and how we interact with others.
Storytelling is an effective technique in online sales training, because it can make complex information much easier to absorb. After the training is completed, your sales reps will be able to recall the skills they learned better when they have attached them to a memory of a story.
Make sure that your e-learning incorporates scenario-based questions and instruction with characters they can see on screen. It’s a great way to engage your audience while helping them identify with, and learn to apply, the concepts you’re teaching.
6. Make the Most of Microlearning Strategies
The modern learner is used to interacting with information in a shorter time frame. Social media and hand-held technology have shortened our attention spans and primed us to take in information in quick bursts. The reality is that people can only absorb so much information at one time. After that, content becomes scrap learning.
By organizing activities into core interactions that achieve a single performance goal, you can make the most out of the learners’ training time and attention. Be sure that your online sales training program is broken up into modules and designed with microlearning techniques.
Online sales training must be designed with the modern learner in mind in order to get the results necessary to justify the investment. Keep these six components in mind when you’re choosing your e-learning, and partner with a company that has expertise and longevity not only in sales effectiveness but in creating modern learning solutions as well.