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Insights

7 Sales Training Delivery Methods and Modalities

Thursday, April 16, 2020
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It wasn’t long ago that there was only one way to deliver sales training: instructor-led in the classroom. Sure, there might have been computer-based training solutions that were reasonably useful even 20 years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that effective blended delivery approaches became commonplace.

Delivering learning through multiple modalities has two effects:

  • It makes the training more engaging.
  • It has a cumulative effect on learning.

In recent years, web-based tools and strategies (think video, gamification, and digital simulations) have made training more engaging and fun. If you’re not using these, you should. However, they’re not the only delivery mechanisms outside of live training.

Here are seven common training modalities:

1. Instructor-Led Training (ILT)
Live, in-person training is the linchpin of any training initiative when you need change to happen. During live programs, you have the full engagement of the participant. Participants can learn from their peers, practice new skills, receive real-time feedback, become immersed in the topic, and are inspired to change.

2. Virtual Instructor–Led training (VILT)
VILT is an increasingly important component of learning as technology tools to support interaction and participant engagement have improved. It’s typically not as powerful for engagement and change as instructor-led training, but, when managed well, can be a strong component to help ensure training sticks and works.

3. E-Learning (online, asynchronous)
E-learning is convenient and allows for flexibility. It’s self-driven, self-paced, interactive, and measurable. It’s often used as pre-work to build knowledge around a subject, post-work for reinforcement, and as a standalone to provide a baseline level of knowledge and skill transfer. With quizzes, tests, and reports, you can see if sellers are engaged and if the training is making a difference.

4. Mobile and Email in Text and Video
With email and mobile, core concepts can be delivered primarily to drive learning and reinforced over time so learning is retained. These messages can guide seller behavior, drive knowledge and skill, increase e-learning engagement, test seller knowledge and skills with scenarios, and assist with analysis and coaching.

5. Simulations
Simulations can be done live or asynchronously. They’re fun and engaging and involve a “choose your own adventure” experience where participants are tested, rated, and given feedback using real-life scenarios.

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For one of our clients, we created an extended day-long sales negotiation simulation on which learners were evaluated based on a custom rubric. Feedback on the training was fantastic and the new skills have sunk in and stayed with participants. Training became an experience.

6. Gamification
Games can make learning and behavior change fun and drive engagement across the team. People tend to chase goals. Badges, scoring, and gamification lead people down desired paths of behavior change while keeping them engaged and interested.

7. Coaching
The second linchpin of a successful sales training and transformation initiative is sales coaching. Sales coaching is a necessary part of change management. The importance and power of sales coaching can’t be understated.

Minimizing Seller Time Out of the Field

We’re often asked, “Can we minimize the length of time sellers are out of the field?”

The answer is yes, but there are additional criteria to consider:

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  • If you want the same result, you have to design pre-work and post-work to get there.
  • This strategy has a few more moving parts. You have to be willing to execute them.

If you take a two-day program and deliver it in one day, you cut half. Well-designed programs are designed to minimize the unnecessary time spent on topics to achieve learning. You can’t just truncate them.

However, if you’re willing to properly execute a flipped classroom, you can achieve a lot more in less live-class time.

A flipped classroom is an instructional strategy and an approach to blended learning that reverses the traditional learning environment by delivering instructional content, often online, outside of the classroom. It moves activities, including those that may have traditionally been considered homework, into the classroom.

In a flipped classroom, participants complete an online learning program, collaborate in online discussions, or carry out research before the live training takes place. This allows them to more effectively engage in applying the concepts in the classroom with the guidance of a facilitator.

A flipped classroom is a powerful strategy. It works. But we often hear, “We can’t get our team to focus on anything until we get them live and tell them to put away their phones and computers. That’s the only time we get full attention. We’ve tried it the other way and it doesn’t work.”

Well, it hasn’t worked yet. That doesn’t mean you can’t make it work. With the right plan, you can get full engagement in even the most difficult environments.

In any case, a flipped classroom works, is powerful, and can minimize out-of-field selling time.

Whether it’s ILT, simulations, e-learning, or mobile, it’s best to use multiple modalities and mix live and online to enhance learning and ensure that it sticks.

About the Author

Mike Schultz is president of RAIN Group and bestselling author of Rainmaking Conversations and Insight Selling. He helps companies around the world unleash the sales potential of their teams through sales training and consulting services. He also is director of the RAIN Group Center for sales research. You can follow Mike’s writing and research on the RAIN Selling Blog.

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