In a recent Training Industry, Inc. survey, close to half of respondents said that virtual training modalities like e-learning were “very useful” for impacting sales learning. Earlier research by Training Industry and Imparta found that 74 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that e-learning is an effective sales training tool.

However, only 27 percent of learners said they were receiving sales training using e-learning. Based on the fact that this research also found that the use of learners’ preferred training modalities had a positive impact on training effectiveness, it’s clear that there’s some room for improvement.

From Just-in-Case to Just-in-Time

A new partnership announced today by MindTickle and Corporate Visions seeks to address this problem. Pairing Corporate Visions’ training content with MindTickle’s just-in-time delivery platform, the partnership will “offer joint customers a system to engage and train their sales teams with a degree of confidence that has not been historically possible,” according to Gopkiran Rao, senior vice president of strategy and go to market at MindTickle.

“Product changes, competitive threats, market moves and many more issues pop up during the year that require your salespeople to get smart in a hurry,” adds Tim Riesterer, chief strategy officer at Corporate Visions. “That means you have to be able to stand up a meaningful program that reaches a lot of people fast – not just with information, but also with engaging activities that require practice and demonstrated proficiency.”

Rao says MindTickle and Corporate Visions have identified three “key trends shaping sales force enablement”:

  • Buyers are more sophisticated, necessitating better trained salespeople who have practiced real-world sales scenarios using simulation training.
  • The sales force is becoming younger, and this generation “expects learning and training to be served up in the flow of work, in mobile formats, in bite-sized increments.”
  • Sales forces are more distributed and remote, “requiring ongoing learning and reinforcement to respond to rapid changes in messaging, competitive and product knowledge without relying on expensive classroom models.”

“The anchor points for many sales enablement programs are an annual face-to-face sales training event and the software platform used to deliver sales content and tools,” wrote Tanner Mezel of DSG last year. But that’s just part of what makes a good sales enablement program. A complete approach incorporates continuous learning through multiple methods.

“The assumption has been that these were the best ways to transfer knowledge and address immediate coaching needs,” says Rao. “However, new approaches and technology platforms offer a more efficient and effective way to train sales reps.” Shifting from a “just-in-case” to a “just-in-time” approach will ensure that sales reps have the knowledge they need, when they need it. Combining this content strategy with effective in-person or virtual sales coaching will increase effectiveness – and depending on the platform, you’ll be able to measure whether it’s working.

Blending the Experience

Blended learning is the combination of e-learning and instructor-led training in one program. Increasingly, however, learners are looking for personalized blends of experiences to improve their knowledge and skills. We know from research that multimodal training programs are becoming more popular, and blending different modalities based on learner needs and preferences can create a more impactful learning experience.

MindTickle and Corporate Visions’ partnership aims to do just that, according to Rao, who says that “through this collaboration, innovative technology is combined with powerful content for systematic skill development and in-field execution to maximize the sales skill curve. The end result is a globally scalable, multi-touch, online program for learning, checking, practicing, coaching and ongoing reinforcement.”

Early results, he adds, indicate that this approach “significantly improves the confidence level of salespeople to leverage new skills and produces similar levels of measurable impact in areas such as pipeline creation and closed-won deals.” Given what we know about the relationship between confidence and competence, both results are important to the effectiveness of a sales function.

Instructor-led and on-the-job training are still an important part of the L&D ecosystem, including sales training. But learning technologies are improving, and the demands on salespeople are reducing their ability to attend live training events. E-learning and other virtual training formats, especially as part of a comprehensive sales training and enablement program, are important modalities to consider.