Sales Learning and Coaching Technology: Three No-Brainer Outcomes
- Sales learning has long been executed manually and repetitively
- Organizations are seeking ways to more effectively deliver learning to high-performing and Millennial sellers
- Sales learning and coaching solutions are growing in popularity and influence
The sales enablement space is abuzz these days, with acquisition and partnership news regularly hitting our newsfeeds. If there’s a common theme of all these merging vendor technology offerings – beyond the obvious, ubiquitous need to reduce non-selling time for B2B sales reps – it’s empowering smarter selling motions. Tech investors in these platforms are keenly aware of how learning and coaching platforms can add scale and improve performance to a wide variety of sales functions that are just coming around to the awareness of how to build a better rep.
Traditional sales training – onboard your reps ASAP, throw ad hoc launches at them, bring them to kickoff annually – is becoming an anachronism. Organizations increasingly understand that a culture of continuous sales learning is now a necessity. SiriusDecisions research shows that Millennial sellers and high-performers – the cohorts you statistically must hire and want to hire – pretty much demand it. Solution providers have answered this call aggressively, bringing to market an array of solutions incorporate video, game mechanics and mobile-first environments designed to support knowledge transfer, retention and application/skill development – along with activity/asset alignment and practice/coaching automation. Here are the sales enablement outcomes these offerings support:
- Faster time to competence and confidence. If your company onboards classes of newly hired sellers at a regular cadence, subjecting everyone to the same classroom content for the same duration, chances are you’re making at least two mistakes. First, you’re likely teaching some of them things they already know, while others aren’t comprehending all the lessons, because these people are not clones with identical backgrounds or learning styles. Second, you’re assuming they are all learning – and hopefully being certified on their ability to deliver on their acquired knowledge – at the same pace. These flaws are hidden by organizations that automatically graduate reps into the field after a prescribed time horizon, instead of basing it on the successful acquisition of skills, knowledge and process, and a proven ability to apply them. Learning and coaching applications help personalize the pace, format and feedback elements of sales learning, optimizing the educational experience for each trainee. This applies to new solution launches and other ongoing sales learning needs, in addition to onboarding.
- Improved learning retention. Plenty has been written about the forgetting curve, which holds that around 90 percent of traditional, instructor-led learning content is essentially in one ear, out the other if it’s not repeated, reinforced or utilized within 30 days. Common sense also dictates that B2B sellers are focusing on little other than their current deals, so why bother teaching them something they don’t need right now? Better to deliver learning in the context of where reps are already working: in a specified sales motion, where the education essentially finds them. It’s a technology connection many providers have built. For example, if I change an sales force automation system-based opportunity’s close percentage from 50 percent to 80 percent, I’m served up some negotiating skills reinforcement. I’m much more likely to retain what I’m learning in the context of earning a commission vs. in a stuffy classroom.
- Improved rep tenure and lifetime contribution. According to SiriusDecisions research, the opportunity cost in total loss of sales productivity each time a B2B rep turns over is more than $200,000. Considering the average of 4.3 months it takes to hire new reps and the additional time to onboard them, what is it worth to your organization to keep a good or great rep around for an extra quarter? Or a year? Today’s sales professionals demand a far more holistic employment experience than their parents did – compensation still tops the list, but personal development has grown exponentially along with other cultural elements. Delivering the learning and skills they need to succeed is a reliable way to ensure high performers stick around. Doing so within a non-disruptive, real-time, Millennial-friendly application is increasingly emerging as a highly productive path toward maximizing the ROI on each seller we support.