Sales teams across countless industries have transitioned more of their sales training into virtual formats. Whether it’s new hire onboarding or continuous skill development, virtual training offers organizations flexibility and significant cost savings compared with traditional classroom training.
What does it take to maximize results from virtual sales training? From planning through reinforcement, three key areas that organizations must get right to ensure training will stick and deliver results must be considered.
1. Strategically Choose Training TopicsThe first step is to wisely choose sales training topics. While your team needs to understand your products, organizational support systems, and customer dynamics, it’s also important to train members on the skills that matter most. What skills can help your team to cut through the noise and more effectively reach your buyers?
When evaluating sales methodologies, find a program that fits your sale and is consistent with the approaches that your top performers use (or that you would like them to use).
Consider a formal competency assessment of your existing sales team to identify skills and competency gaps. The results can build a road map for organization-wide training initiatives as well as identify specific training and coaching opportunities that frontline managers can address on a one-on-one basis.
2. Ensure Your Content Captures Attention or Create Compelling ContentOne of the pitfalls many companies experience when transitioning to virtual sales training is a struggle to keep learners engaged. Content that may have worked flawlessly in an eight-hour classroom format with a lively instructor and an improvisational flare may fall flat when prerecorded and delivered as a talking slideshow or talking-head video.
In addition, earning the virtual viewer’s attention in today’s world is challenging due to the distractions that are easily accessible from every computer, tablet, and smartphone.
Build your content with engagement in mind. Add more interactivity to an e-learning module. Mix formats and deliver some content through live (but virtual) meetings while keeping prework self-paced. Consider setting up a basic video studio with a few cameras to incorporate a higher-quality video into your course to balance the slower-paced content.
3. Support and Reinforce the Learning ProcessYour investment in any sales training, virtual or otherwise, only matters if it results in your team’s sales performance growth. For this reason, it’s critical to support and reinforce the knowledge and skill development in your sales training programs.
As discussed in an article from earlier this year, frontline managers play a critical role in succeeding with virtual sales training. Following closely behind any sales training, frontline managers must own the practice, application, and coaching of key concepts. It’s important to set clear expectations around this function and equip managers with the tools and resources they need to facilitate this critical set of tasks.
Effort Well SpentWith the logistical limitations we’ve all experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, more companies have implemented virtual approaches for their sales teams’ knowledge and skill development. When executed well, virtual training can be even more effective than traditional training and become standard practice, even when travel and gathering restrictions are lifted.
Focusing on the three areas outlined in this post can prevent you from simply checking the training box and put your company on a path to realizing a tangible return on your training investment. Carefully plan training topics, deliver content that engages your team, and ensure that you have the support in place to reinforce key concepts and translate them into daily sales behaviors.
For a deeper dive, join me October 12-15 for the ATD SELL Conference. During my session on October 13, I will discuss how to produce virtual training content that engages busy sales people.