Using E-Learning in Sales

Q: I've been somewhat disappointed with the results from the sales training sessions I've held for my salespeople. Is e-learning a viable alternative to on-site programs?

A: Most companies offer their sales team some form of sales training. Whether it's a two-day product orientation or a six-week event, sales training is considered an important tool for making each person more productive. Often, that initial sales training is reinforced with periodic experiences to remind the sales team how and when to use their various sales techniques. Many times, additional training is scheduled around the annual sales meeting when everyone is brought together for other purposes, and sales training becomes a natural adjunct.

Through these sales training events, attendees develop insight into the company's sales process, products and services. They evaluate their own skills and figure out methods for their own improvement. These sessions are meant to motivate individuals to work smart and achieve high levels of sales success. However, they often end up disappointing the executives that initiated them in the first place.

There are many factors that can impact sales results, but one of the major areas to review is the sales training plan. If the plan consists of a series of separate training events with significant time gaps between events, it will not likely deliver the intended results.

It's a matter of "Use it or Lose it." To understand the problem better, you need to go back to the initial training experience. These are often invigorating. Attendees leave with new ideas and they're ready to put their new skills to work. But after an initial brief increase in productivity, something seems to go wrong. Productivity beings to deteriorate and often returns to the pre-training level.

There are several reasons this deterioration of skills take place. Attendees leave sales training with great enthusiasm for their newfound insights. Maybe they've picked up a new approach to assessing a prospect's needs or a great way to answer an objection.

Often, however, your sales training people return from the training and discover that it's much harder than they expected to change their sales techniques. They often give up and return their former methods of selling - losing much of the benefit and a great deal of their motivation from attending the training session.

Several tools can be used to reinforce sales skills learned in sales training ranging from mentoring and coaching by management, updates with product development or marketing, and sales meetings. The goal of these tools is to continue improving individual selling techniques. But many of these techniques are too random or infrequent and do not produce the consistent increases in productivity desired.

However, there is another option! While the Web is often viewed as a great selling or customer service tool, it's also an excellent environment for sales training. You can develop programs that reinforce your message on a consistent and regular basis.

Connie Moorhead is the President of the CMOOR Group and founder of SecurityCEU.com, Louisville, KY. CMOOR is a full-service education solution provider, custom online content development and Webinar service firm focusing exclusively on the security, manufacturing, and construction industries. SecurityCEU is an industry certification resource and online continuing education provider. Send your training questions and needs to questions@cmoor.com

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