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Supercharge Sales Development Goals With Microlearning

Wednesday, August 14, 2019
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Implementing a dynamic sales development approach can be a game changer for companies. When aligned to a larger business strategy, sales enablement can add value at every level within the organization—from headquarters, to the field, and beyond. As you look across your business landscape, there are a plenty of learning opportunities to include in your development strategy, such as traditional sales training, coaching, mentoring, mobile delivery, and gamification; however, microlearning has the potential to supercharge existing programs and accelerate sales performance.

Benefits of Microlearning

The power of microlearning lies in its ability to strategically enhance the sales development suite. There are two main scenarios when microlearning is ideal. First, even when an organization offers leadership development programs, sales-focused learning content, manager coaching, 360-degree feedback tools, and solutions for high-potential cohorts, there still may be gaps in sales capabilities. As a sales enablement professional already energized by the many initiatives you have in play, you likely see opportunities to do more.

For example, you can use microlearning to help managers know what topics to include in their coaching interactions, especially over the long haul. What are the best issues to address three months after they’ve extinguished a pressing performance fire? How should they advise high-potentials who are ready to take the next step in their careers? Microlearning content also can help managers sustain regular feedback and coaching by serving conversation starters.

Another prime opportunity for using microlearning is when little development is happening. This often occurs when companies are running lean headcounts or budgets as well as after a reorganization or following a merger. In these situations, sales teams may be scrambling to find solid footing, and managers can rarely wait for conditions to be right before helping people acquire new knowledge or take the next step in their roles.

In each of these situations, the brevity and preciseness of microlearning presents a critical advantage. Salespeople can access nuggets of information just-in-time and on-demand. Content developers can distill learning and support materials to address specific topics or narrow skillsets. Bite-sized lessons, when paired with peer feedback, provide a powerful platform for colleagues to share up-to-date and relevant work information.

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What’s more, microlearning measurements often involve badging, competition, and completion levels that incentivize learning progress. Microlearning’s snackable format paired with the motivation generated by digital badging creates a powerful combination for developing a salesforce. And as tangible symbols of skill achievement, micro-credentials provide the public recognition and social proof that salespeople often covet.

Extending the Learning Investment

If you treat microlearning as the engine of your overall strategy, you may be disappointed with the results. Instead, think of microlearning as a way to fuel (rather than replace) traditional levers of sales performance improvement. In today’s fast-paced business environment, microlearning helps learners quickly translate knowledge into practical on-the-job action. It places a premium on how rapidly employees can learn, not on how much information they already possess. Likewise, it enables work—and learning—to proceed seamlessly, at the same time.

When used in tandem with other sales training methods, microlearning drives spaced repetition that increases knowledge retention. Employees can build knowledge and skill, step by step, using micro-lessons to introduce content and set the stage for practice. Following structured training events or coaching, micro-lessons can serve as job aids and performance support tools.

As an enabler of other development strategies, microlearning amplifies their impact on training innovation and employee productivity. For instance, it employs new techniques, like gamification, that can take root in traditional training. Additionally, microlearning can employ mobile delivery to train workers across locations, transforming how companies attract and retain talent.

Tips for Implementing a Microlearning Strategy

If you decide to include microlearning to enhance your overall sales training strategy, consider the following suggestions as you get started:

  • Gain buy-in from leadership. Build and present a business case for microlearning that fits your organization’s sales strategy and learning culture. Work with influential leaders to define what a successful microlearning strategy looks like in business terms. Revisit microlearning practices at regular intervals.
  • Focus on essential competencies. Emphasize soft skills such as active listening, relationship building, and time management that drive the best salesperson behaviors. Highlight foundational knowledge and skills that align with company objectives. Build capabilities that help employees remain agile as market conditions change.
  • Provide flexible, on-demand access. Make micro-lessons available on a variety of devices, such as desktops, tablets, or smartphones. Anticipate connectivity issues that learners may face, especially when traveling, as you provide support for learners on-the-go.
  • Create rich media experiences. Develop a microlearning architecture, including visual cues that help learners process and retain information. Produce or procure videos that succinctly cover a relevant topic, taking just a few minutes to convey crucial ideas. Ideally, these videos should model good behavior rather than present a “talking head” format.
  • Incorporate activities and quizzes. These outlets should let learners apply and practice what they have learned. Employ digital badges to motivate and challenge employees to succeed.
  • Manage the micro-development cycle. Use an agile methodology to make micro-lessons easy to deploy and update. Repurpose existing training materials as microlearning tools. Leverage a library of microlearning assets across multiple topics, lessons, or courses.

As you continuously refine your company’s sales performance improvement approach, look for ways to insert microlearning into the mix. While microlearning is not a replacement for traditional training methods, it has a viable role to play within a blended learning framework.

About the Author

Dayna has been consulting with Fortune 1000 firms on talent development and performance initiatives since 2006. She specializes in both instructional design strategy and in sales training. Throughout her career, Dayna has worked with hundreds of clients in Financial Services, Insurance, Technology, Hospitality, Pharmaceuticals, and Professional Services. Dayna has served on various non-profit boards, most recently as the President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Philadelphia Chapter, where she is currently a board advisor. She is also a thought contributor and author for ATD National’s Sales Enablement Community of Practice and has been asked to serve as the programming chairperson for their 2018 and 2019 Sales Enablement Learning and Leadership conference. Dayna has a Graduate Degree in Organizational Change, enjoys mentoring young professionals, and frequently speaks at events around the country.

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