Microlearning promises to do more with less – better, more effective training delivered in smaller chunks. During my career, I have found that effective training requires a combination of skill development, knowledge retention and practice. Microlearning enables knowledge retention but doesn’t address the need for learners to practice and reinforce what they have learned. That’s why my team combined microlearning with video-based sales coaching to enhance retention and drive adoption of our sales training and enablement solutions.

Microlearning at Lenovo

David Roman, chief marketing officer at Lenovo, uses the phrase “fewer, bigger, bolder” to define our content strategy – from training and enablement to marketing. Microlearning embraces the “fewer” aspect of this goal, since it generally takes less than five minutes for the learner to consume the content.

In 2016, our organization moved away from traditional event-based training and long e-learning courses. We adopted microlearning because our sales teams are mobile and have to sell an increasingly more complex and expansive product line. This move to microlearning has had a positive impact on our organization. Training completion rates are up 50 percent, and knowledge retention has also improved.

While microlearning is generally shorter in length, it requires the instructional design team to consolidate and refine the message. I always tell my team that it is harder to create two-minute than 20-minute training. Brevity forces us to distill the key things a sales rep really needs to know.

Introducing Video Coaching

While microlearning is effective in building the skills and knowledge needed to transform sales behaviors, the learners still need practice. We surveyed our sales managers and found that even reps who attended training were not always successful in having conversations with customers around new products or solutions.

In 2016, we began looking at different ways to help sales managers and reps practice pitches before presenting to a customer. Our sales management team also wanted to assess reps’ competence in telling a new product or company story prior to the customer engagement. We looked at multiple video coaching solutions but ultimately decided on a solution that allowed our sales managers to assess and reinforce key messaging but also provided the sales reps with a safe place to practice before facing a customer.

Our training team initiated video coaching challenges to measure, score and certify sales rep preparedness across our North America sales team. Managers could ensure that sellers retained the information they learned during training and demonstrated mastery of critical skills and messages. Once our sales teams mastered the main message, we would deploy related challenges, including objection handling or prospecting.

As a side benefit, our video coaching practice provides us with a library of sales best practices that we can share with other sales teams. We captured best examples as videos to foster peer learning and improve team-wide performance.

What Next?

While microlearning empowers our sales team to retain new knowledge, this learning and transformation requires practice. Microlearning helps with knowledge retention; then, sales coaching practice helps deliver optimal results.

Want to learn more? Kerry Troester will be sharing Lenovo’s experience with microlearning and Brainshark’s sales coaching platform at TICE 2018 this June.

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