Q: Your introduction to using eLearning in sales presented in last month's column has gotten my attention. Can you go more in depth as to the benefits of this method of training?
A: While other methods for reinforcing sales training are worthwhile, none are as beneficial as the Web in offering unique advantages for reinforcing concepts and skills that are likely to contribute to an increase in the bottom line.
Web-based sales training reinforcement is:
• Time efficient - Sales reps can go to the Web and work with the information placed there without being slowed down by other reps. It also does not require time senior reps and managers, whose time may be much more limited.
• Portable—Because sales reps can access the site from anywhere they happen to be, they can as easily use the training materials from a hotel or airport as they can from their own office.
• Interesting—Reps find the Web to be a valuable source of information and are more likely to spend time looking at this information than at the same information in a different format.
• Connected to other valuable resources—Reps who come to the Web site for one piece of information tend to follow links to other valuable information they might need.
Your current materials should serve as a good foundation for your web-based sales course. The key to effective online sales training is:
• Keep it short. Cut the training down to the most important points that tie directly to your business objectives.
• Make it fun. Think of ways to make your training information entertaining. Add humor or use interesting graphics or illustrations. Animations and interactive exercises are required.
• Make it real. Use brief stories based on real situations to help reps see how these concepts fit into their own selling efforts with their prospects.
• Focus on application. Make sure that you create a situation in which salespeople are required to apply the information to their own sales activities.
• Think Web, not book. Take advantage of the medium to draw on other resources that are available on your Web site or others you can link to. Give sales reps access to gateways to relevant information.
To make sure that everyone takes advantage of these opportunities, it's advisable to set up some type of a reporting system. This should preferably be in the form of a Learning Management System (LMS). Information on who is using the Web training can be forwarded to either the training department or the sales manager; and possibly the best use of this tool is to track the specific areas of training that people need more assistance. In this way you can hone only those skills that are in most need of support — allowing your sales force to spend more time selling!