Does it surprise you that 82% business-to-business (B2B) decision-makers believe that sales reps are unprepared? This statistic is alarming, given the huge investments of money, time and effort businesses make in training their sales teams. There is no denying the need for effective sales training, especially in B2B sales. In fact, research shows that for every dollar you invest in sales training, you can expect $29 in incremental revenue. Moreover, the most effective sales training can help improve the performance of individual salespeople by an average of 20%.
The problem isn’t that businesses aren’t investing in training their sales teams; the problem arises when the training doesn’t adequately address key pain points associated with today’s sales learners. The good news is that technological advances have taken corporate training to the next level, allowing organizations to align programs to the needs of millennial and Generation Z learners.
We are living in a brave new world, where learner expectations are high. They not only seek easy access to learning and knowledge, but they also seek it on their own terms. Learning and development (L&D) needs to evolve rapidly to keep pace with the fast-changing learning habits of the workforce. Here are five pain points for today’s sales learners and how you can address them in your L&D programs.
Pain Point 1: Content Delivery
A key part of modern learning is seeking and finding information that can be applied almost immediately to real-life situations. Being able to do so gives an unparalleled sense of empowerment that can take an individual’s performance to a whole new level. L&D needs to recognize that content delivery is about not just providing resources but also making them available through the right channels. Organizations need more than an LMS; they need an LXP — a learning experience platform, which gives learners more control. It is more than anytime, anywhere access to content; it is focused on the entire learning experience, for both hard and soft skills training.
Pain Point 2: Keeping the Learner Engaged
Salespeople tend to be energetic. Unfortunately, high energy sometimes comes at the cost of short attention spans. Expecting sales learners to sit through lectures or read through reams of text is unrealistic.
With learners consuming content on smartphones and other mobile devices, there is an increased need to create multimedia content that is broken up into bite-sized, easily digestible chunks. Research suggests that employees are 75% more likely to watch a video than read text. The key to keeping the sales team engaged with your training content is to enable access not just in the format they prefer but on the device they use most often. Mix up formats with podcasts, webinars, videos, learning games, text, infographics, simulations and other modalities.
Pain Point 3: Scheduling Specific Training Times
Leaving work to attend training programs adds a huge indirect cost. Productivity suffers on days when training is scheduled; after all, it takes time to get back into the flow after spending a couple of hours in training. Then, there’s the problem of coordinating the trainer’s and trainees’ schedules.
Given that today’s workers like to do things at their own time and pace, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered LXP can offer an effective solution. The digital assistants often associated with such platforms can play a key role in reminding and even scheduling training times, based on individual needs and preferences.
Pain Point 4: Personalizing Training
Across job functions, today’s employees value personalization. In a recent study, for example, 88% of U.S. marketers reported measurable improvement in business results when they personalized marketing. Traditional training formats and most learning management systems (LMSs) cannot offer the level of personalization that an AI-driven learning platform can. Through machine learning and natural language processing, digital assistants can analyze individual learner behavior and deliver content accordingly. Even before the learner says, “Hey Siri,” the virtual assistant can remind them that they need to complete a specific training module. What’s more, such LXPs allow organizations to give each learner an entire brand experience with each module, building loyalty and a sense of belongingness.
Pain Point 5: Tracking and Measurement
There’s no point in delivering training programs if you can’t measure their effectiveness or track which employees have completed which modules — and whether they’re actually retaining what they learn. Sales training has always been difficult to measure, but modern learning platforms give you the tools to track, monitor and assess learning. They also help you tweak training for maximum engagement and effectiveness, because the technology makes modifying and updating content a breeze.
Do you want to identify which content is consumed most? Do you want to evaluate skill gaps among salespeople? Or are you waiting to measure return on investment to decide whether the training was successful? Modern LXPs perform analytics and generate reports based on what you choose to measure.
A Final Word
While you focus on developing a learning strategy that is aligned both to your organization’s go-to-market strategy and to your vision of the desired customer experience, you also need to equip your sales team with the skills and knowledge to engage prospects accordingly. Especially in a B2B organization, it is crucial that sales reps come across as well-informed while possessing the skills to drive sales forward.
Tech-driven training platforms offer the tools you need to identify barriers to successful performance for your sales team, while helping to create and deploy training programs quickly and within budget. Finally, such platforms give the control to the learners, empowering and motivating them to achieve higher levels of performance.