Few would argue the value of training to improve sales performance. But the most effective way to deliver that training to sales reps became unclear as new technologies and platforms have been introduced. What hasn’t changed, however, is how we learn. And so to design the best sales enablement program, companies must refer back to learning fundamentals while leveraging the technologies that make it scalable and cost effective.
Though developed over 50 years ago, the Learning Pyramid reveals a lot about how our attempts to improve sales training may be reducing how much our sales people get out of this time investment.
In his review of the Learning Pyramid, Inc. contributor Lee Colan writes that people remember 50% of what they see and hear. This means that despite the scalability and convenience of online classes, sales reps are only retaining 50% of the information presented in this format.
When sales participates in a discussion, retention increases to 70%, but when training is delivered in a collaborative classroom setting, reps are pulled away from customers (and potential revenue) for hours, sometimes days.
Fortunately, there is a hybrid training model that is available and accessible to businesses of all sizes today. By integrating video into your sales training program, you can eliminate travel costs while still holding sales reps’ attention while fostering collaboration. Because sales people can see and interact with the person delivering the training and fellow students, the information is better retained than if it was presented during a traditional conference call or a one-sided, online class.
Entrepreneur contributor Grant Cardone says that to be effective – and improve sales performance – training must be daily, interactive, measured and designed to help sales people actually close deals. This type of training is made scalable – without decreasing engagement – with video. As an example, internal product and industry experts can host live Q&A sessions for sales teams.
In these sessions, sales people learn about the differentiated features of the company’s products and services, and get the specific information they need to improve their sales technique by hearing a broad range of questions from their peers. At the same time, sales reps get the opportunity to feed customer feedback into the teams that manage the solution roadmap for the company, ultimately creating a product that’s easier to sell.
Returning to the Learning Pyramid, retention jumps to an amazing 90% when learners simulate (or actually do) the real thing. For sales, submitting videos of themselves giving a pitch for the solutions they sell gives them the opportunity to simulate an effective customer conversation without leaving their desk.
These pitches can be required as part of performance evaluations or quarterly contests for which the winner receives a bonus and bragging rights. Every rep gets to see the winning pitch, allowing them to incorporate elements of it into their own customer dialogs. Managers can provide a grade or a score for these pitches as a way to measure performance.
Still doubting the benefit of adding interactive, live video to virtual training? Consider that Oracle uses video to deliver live virtual classes (LVC) on its applications. Some of these classes are held over a span of several days, and their price is a testament to their value. (Some, like the Oracle Agile 9.3.3 Administrator class, are priced over $3,000.) One student said, “The LVC was outstanding. I loved not having to travel, yet felt like I was in the room with everybody else!”
Truly effective training can improve sales performance. But for that to happen, we must go back to the fundamentals. Sales training must foster live discussions and sales-generated content that fully engages sales reps. We must move down the Learning Pyramid to give students the retention rates that make it worth their time out of the field.