Sales Teams have Unique Needs
Forbes did a survey recently asking what percent of sales reps lack the skills they need to be successful and the results are astounding: 55% lack the skills they need. How do we create a better learning experience for our learners to overcome that gap? Brian Leach, from Unboxed Technology says, “If you think about half of the team not being prepared or ready, that’s a pretty big opportunity to really improve the effectiveness of your training.”
How do we make the learning experience better?
There are 5 areas that you should think about when you’re creating a training program. Use these as a framework to guide you to improve the experience for your learner:
The sequential order of these steps are not always important but we recommend ensuring you consider each step.
Start with Measure
Brain Leach, from Unboxed Technologies, shared that Talent Pulse Report found that US organizations spend $164 billion on training and development annually, only 21% measure whether learning is used on the job after training. So almost 80% of us are not able to create that value for our sales organizations. We think it’s very important to start right upfront and define the expected behaviors and business outcomes that you’d like to see happen. Align with your business leaders and teams on what those outcomes are going to look like. Start with strategy not content.
In order to prove ROI with robust analytics, consider Kirkpatrick’s Model. It has 4 levels, they are as follows:
- Reaction: Did you go? How was it?
- Learning: What did you learn?
- Behavior: Can you implement what you learned? Can you measure the behavioral impact of what the learner actually learned?
- Results: What is the business impact and ROI of your implementation?
You can bring these levels to life by doing the following:
- Reaction: Performance based focus smile sheets also known as a post course assessment that gauges the learner’s emotional response with a course or curriculum. You can have them self-assess their expertise level. Ask them if they are ready to apply the learning.
- Learning: This level is the use of pre and post assessments to measure the learner’s knowledge obtained from a course. It’s a great way to measure where a learner was prior to training and where they ended up after the training curriculum.
- Behavior: This is where we want to see the impact we are making on the learner’s day-to-day behaviors. This is generally done through coaching using a rubric or behavior rating scale to measure that performance. Having coaching standards for your sales leaders to go out a validate is critical. There’s also new technology available to observe the learner on the job. You can also create a practice scenario to see how they perform. This is a very important step to the application phase.
- ROI: This is the area where a lot of our clients struggle. There is a framework that we use. First we think of what kind of action or outcome we are trying to drive. Then determine the value from those actions to determine the ROI on the training.
For example, one action could be 100 learners complete our sales program. Then another action could be to increase the speed to competency by 50%. The value for the first action could be that reps increase their average sale by $250 because this training program that we are creating will give them more skills, more knowledge. Then the other action, cutting the learning time by half, say 5 weeks, could generate $1000 addition revenue per week. 100 learners X 250= $12,500 and those 100 learners over the 5 week period generating an extra $1000 in revenue = $500,000. That brings the total value to $512,500. Hypothetically, an average program is $200,000 so we would be producing a 61% ROI or in more simpler terms we are returning $1.61 for every $1.00 spent. Doing this exercise early and up front in your process and aligning these metrics at each level with your sales organization and leaders is extremely important. It creates more “buy-in.” The leaders tend to help you invest in the program and they’ll be partners with you throughout the process to help measure each level.
Richard Lowenthal, Managing Partner of The Game Agency observes that in his 10 years of experience in the education sector, “Their tends to be an over emphasis on the intellectual aspects, wanting to shunt information from my brain to yours. There has not been sufficient attention and investment made in exciting the learner intellectually and emotionally.” How do you tap into the emotional side? We are more effective as learners if we are interested in the material, if it’s meaningful to us. There are 4 areas:
- Interactivity: active involvement between the learner and the trainer and the content. It’s best to avoid passive learning. It should be an active exchange of information and involvement.
- Gaming: This is a critical part of active participation, whether it’s in the form of large simulations or micro-games.
- Live-Action: This is about having us watch humans do or say what you are supposed to do and be able to envision yourself undertaking those roles
- Animated Video: This has an important place both from a visualization perspective as well as maintaining budgets because live-action video can be expensive
Ever wonder what percentage of L&D professionals were willing to recommend their own L&D programs to their peers? According to a 2017 LinkedIn Learning study, less than 25% are actually willing to recommend their own program to their peers. There is a lot of self-awareness that says “I don’t think that what I’m doing right now is up to snuff.” We think there is a big opportunity to make these training programs better.
What are the top 5 reasons for success?
- Include the role of front-line managers on the initiative– helping those managers feel a sense of ownership and responsibility and giving them a say in how this rolls out. Have them have a stake in the game by competing against one another.
- Clearly communicate the strategy to stakeholders such as employees and customers- communication is very important!
- Ensure there is sufficient technology to implement and sustain the change initiative– seems like a simple thing but it often gets forgotten.
- Gain senior leadership buy-in to the relevance of the change initiatives and measurement metrics to evaluate the progress of the program– ensure that the people who are paying for the program are on board.
- Carefully articulate how the change will impact the working life of employees– make sure that they understand that the goal is to help them do their jobs better. Think how this training program is going to affect the lives of the people taking it. Being empathetic will help you build out your training program to everyone’s benefit
Engage the Learner with Interactivity
The goal is to have a dialogue with the learner, having a one-way transmission of data is highly ineffective. Consider the following:
- Prioritize Interactivity: use interactivity to demonstrate core concepts and improve long term retention- ensure that the interactivity helps the learner exercise their brain and practice, the more they are able to manipulate the content that drives the information into long term memory
- Activate the Learner Emotionally: we want people to be excited and enjoy the training; a receptive learner is a more engaged learner- they should have fun
- Use Interaction Wisely:
- Simplify concepts
- Demonstrate key takeaways
- Do not distract from core training objectives
We all learn in different ways. Some people are more visual learners. For some listening is just fine and for others, they need to teach others in order to learn. When you are playing a Jump training game, you’re using your body, those twitch muscles to engage with the content and that helps knowledge retention. Start the session with a “warm-up” like you would if you were playing tennis. Activate prior knowledge, start with a fun game. Deliver the content to where they are- in the cloud, on their mobile device if they are in the field. Use assessments to improve their recall and establish connections between the learning and the application.
Storytelling Through Live Action and Animated Video
Live action video can be expensive but they have their place in the spectrum of training tools. Luckily, they are some great tools out there to help you create interactive animated videos such as Vyond and Powtoon. This is a great tool for your visual learner. We all learn from storytelling. Create stories that enable the learner to visualize themselves in that setting is extremely powerful.
Before creating a gamified learning strategy, you should consider your performance objectives. What should the learner be able to do at the end of the training? Then map or align those objectives to the right game. Different game mechanics will emphasize different outcomes.
Kathryn Stewart from Knowbly explores how to design effective content, assessing understanding, measuring content performance, eLearning and Instructor-Led training. According to Forbes, 71% of sales reps take over 6 months to ramp up. They have unique needs so we need to ensure that we create effective content. Here are some things to consider when creating a course:
- Define Value: clearly summarize why the learners should engage and how they will benefit. Send out a quick survey before a course (no more than 2 minutes to complete) that only has a few questions about what the learners know and includes personal questions such as favorite color, book and/or TV show. You want to then tailor the course based on those responses.
- Personalize Feedback: everyone has a very specific need. When it’s more personalized, the learners will be more engaged.
- Make Relevant: explore content and learners interactions and points of interest back to training task or goal. This helps the learner feel that the course is worthwhile.
- Determine Comprehension: Ensure participation results understanding testing, before the test. Gamification is really the best way to asses knowledge retention. Sales teams love games as they are naturally competitive.
- Ensure Portability: make content mobile, responsive and available at the point of need.
This is number one thing that people forget to do when creating content. Align learning outcomes with assessment to:
- Build off audience’s existing knowledge and establish a baseline for competency
- Retain new knowledge by introducing proactive stimulus (eg. scenario-based assessment).
After 5 minutes of screen time, you need to do a “check your understanding” module with pop-up quizzes or gamification. Also, if the learners know that knowledge checks are coming, they will be more apt to pay attention to the content.
- Make learning easy to access
- Situational Learning Scenarios
- Video Based Coaching
Having one central location to find information is so critical. Zoom surveyed sales reps and 65% reps say that they cannot find the content they need to prospect new clients! Hub360 is a great new sales enablement platform created by Unboxed where learners can find everything they need to learn ands sell. Part of the platform is also customer facing. When we make accessibility easier, we take that path of least resistance away. If you want to make your training more effective, having a centralized place is key. Along with Unboxed, we at The Game Agency created a customized learning journey with IT Cosmetics, a division of Loreal. It’s animated, fun and interactive. There are achievements, games, prizes and leaderboards and educational content built in. There is social learning and communication so people can take about best practices and share what they are learning. More importantly, there is analytics, to measure whether people are taking that training.
There is nothing better than putting your learners in a safe environment and have them make choices. Behavioral learning is about choices. In situational learning, it can be designed, you are presenting both the right and wrong solution, taking learners down different paths to help them understand both the positive and negative impact of their choices. There are many ways to do this using animation, live action videos to really bring it to life so they can understand in an immersive environment how to actually apply what they’ve learned. Situational learning is very critical, especially with adaptive techniques along the way.
Video Based Coaching
This is a great for learners to show off their skills and get feedback. Inside of Hub360 you can post a video for the community to learn from. It also allows you to give feedback to the learner as to how they are performing in a certain task whether it’s on the job or in the training scenario. It reinforces the application and creates measurability around how the learner is doing.
Unfortunately with the forgetting curve, learners forget 40% of what they’ve learned within 20 minutes and 80% of what they’ve retained within a day. Our goals is to beat this forgetting curve. So how do we do that? Have regular assessments throughout the learning. Use multiple and flexible types of assessment to:
Recall: material and determine competency by evaluating the learner with positive and negative reinforcement.
Explore: the subject further and assist in learning transfer by providing supplemental low stakes exercises.
Most importantly, continue the assessments over time, whether it’s a month after or a week after. Use all different types of assessments, whether it’s micro games or quizzes. The Training Arcade® offers 8 different types of micro-games that allow you to measure the outcome. Set your KPIs at the start so that you can measure them effectively. Analyze the data at the individual or group level.
In sum, by focusing on these 5 points: measure, excite, educate, apply and reinforce when creating your training program, you should be able to create an effective and engaging curriculum that will make you a training hero!