There’s no denying that the world has gone virtual. It’s a form of our very own real-world Matrix that comes rife with opportunities.
One of these is the opportunity for exponential learning through online sales training. If you as a sales leader have consistently struggled to get your sales team excited about learning and the possibilities it opens up, then we come armed and loaded with solutions today.
But first, we need to clear any lingering doubts or notions that might stop you from going all-in when it comes to online sales training.
Why sales training online is worth your time
Online sales training comes with its fair share of critical advantages that would be hard to replicate in a real, in-person environment. The top three of these are:
It's A New Era of Digitization
If digitization and remote work was still a work-in-progress before COVID-19, then it is a fully realized reality now.
Since the pandemic, workforces have shifted and the majority of business deals, finances, trades, marketing, administrative tasks and sales processes now happen in front of a screen. According to Foucault and Galasso, by mid-April 2020, there was a large uptick in the number of workers who had shifted to working online (29% in Canada; 60% in New Zealand). By 2021, a whopping 97% of workers wanted to be working remotely in some form.
It is a natural consequence then that growth and learning activities would make a shift as well. The choice is to either indefinitely wait to convene in an office or to get started with being empowered through digital means.
There's a buffet of digital sales training programs
Since a significant number of businesses and trade activities are being conducted digitally (For eg. via Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and OTC trading), people and companies have adapted accordingly and shifted a lot of their products and processes online. The market is now filled with sales training programs, covering modern as well as evergreen practices and being taught by seasoned experts. You can learn about one aspect of sales or take a 360-degree view. You can delve into the intersection of sales and psychology or how sales cycles are impacted by internal operations.
Online sales coaching is efficient
Although nothing can beat the buzz of exchanging ideas and energy in person, online sales coaching definitely wins in the efficiency department. It saves time and energy while allowing the company to call in trainers who wouldn't have been able to make it in person. The learning process is broadened without draining pockets on multi-day offline sales conferences.
Challenges to a successful online sales training experience
Despite carefully selected programs and well-curated panels of sales professionals, online sales training can still fall flat on its face. Possible roadblocks will need to be considered beforehand so that the right precedent is set from the start. Let’s talk about some of them.
The teetering seesaw of personal and professional
A bunch of faces aligned in a grid on a blinking screen is not the best environment for human interactions. For something to feel worthwhile and exciting for, the elements of warmth and human connection need to be there.
So, this is where online sales training can transform into just another item on the company agenda. If sales leaders and sales managers don't take the appropriate measures to ensure that team members feel engaged and invigorated by the online training, then the time and money will be for naught. There will have been no learning of effective sales strategies, on-demand sales skills, or methods for sales success.
Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't the goal. Elevating confidence and motivation by learning new sales skills is.
The lure of shiny toys
Sitting in a room with another person, no matter how unpleasant, boring, or exciting the situation, engages our five senses completely. We cannot check out easily even if we want to. The intermingling voices, responses, reactions and invitations don't allow it.
On an online sales training call, however, checking out is way easier. There is an errant email, an excited text from a friend, the unending Instagram stories, or simply the option to turn off the video and mute yourself. All these shiny toys lure in team members until they aren't paying attention to the sales training and are seeing it as an obligation waiting to be completed. This definitely isn’t the enthusiasm that the sales managers had aimed for when they mapped out the training.
Simply getting your sales team to attend training should never be the goal. Instead, your sales training should be so engaging that they are eager to be 100% present and ready to take in the knowledge you are ready to share.
6 essential sales training tips
As promised in the last section, it's time to crack your knuckles and get ready to learn how to make online sales training effective and engaging for both team members and sales leaders.
On a larger scale, these tips can be used by leaders for training sessions even if they don't relate to sales. These are not shortcuts, but you will notice that the implementation of even a few of these will have a positive effect on training sessions which will further spill into your team’s overall sales performance quality.
Gamify training to create tangible achievements
Adding 'it is mandatory for everyone to be present' is not enough motivation and incentivization. Even if team members show up, they might not get anything out of the training session because of the two reasons mentioned in the previous section. So, how to invoke excitement in your sales team so they are naturally motivated to attend and engage?
Gamify participation. Have a platter of rewards ready for their winning if they participate and engage enthusiastically with the material. Rewards can include their favorite premium Starbucks coffee for a week, an Amazon gift card, a massage package at a spa. Get the drift? Create some stakes. The salespeople who follow through and overcome them should be rewarded.
Back and forth, back and forth
Since people can't drop in for a chat about something any time of the day now, it’s important to ensure that more opportunities for communication are available. Without input from your team, you will not be able to provide what they really need, which in turn will not improve the company sales pipeline or sales methodology.
Regular feedback also ensures that you are customizing training sessions to what your sales team actually needs rather than what you think they need. Use the feedback sessions to also check in with their wellness so that they can be supported in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. We don't want additional items on their to-do list to compromise their creativity in the long run.
Make room for sparks and laughs
Back-to-back training sessions can quickly deplete people's enthusiasm. Organize hangouts and coffee breaks where team members can play and maybe compete against each other through fun sales activities.
For example, they can role-play what a B2B sales call at the closing stage might be like. Or everyone can share their favorite examples of social selling on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram. Not only will everyone get to see new aspects of others' personalities, but you as a sales leader will also gain valuable insights into what team members are naturally drawn towards and can excel at. Including what naturally excites your sales reps in the sales process might be the missing key to quick sales enablement.
Embrace asynchronous training
It might seem asynchronous sales training is just like going back to square one, but that's not really true.
Remember: your sales representatives are a mix of people who learn in different ways. Enabling an option so they could learn from live training sessions or recorded ones will give them a sense of autonomy and reduce their chances of skipping a session because it doesn't suit their learning styles.
Remember - memories can be fickle
Studies have shown the modern human’s attention span has shortened to less than that of a goldfish. That's right. It has fallen from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. The digital lifestyle with its thousands of distractions has not been good for the brain! This is why long training sessions filled with thousands of sales tips, product knowledge, case studies, etc. won't do.
Break down what you want to communicate into chunks and deliver it over snappy and engaging webinars. Try to vary your delivery and yes, frequently engage in quizzes, refreshers and recaps to ensure what is taught sticks.
Identify learning opportunities with data
Digital tools have made it much easier to track performance and generate actionable data. So, use them judiciously to identify things like: which sales topics are consistently popular? How many sales reps are attending? Are they able to implement the knowledge being shared in their own sales process? Has sales performance gone up?
By answering these questions with data, you will be in the right position to ensure that sales training is generating the ROI you had hoped for.
The point of online sales training
In the 'Expected Outcomes' slide of the PPT, the outlined aim of sales training might be to teach new skills that can:
- Enhance sales metrics
- Improve sales prospecting
- Make onboarding easier
- Improve cold calling
- Improve the overall bottom line
- Increase the overall percentage of successful sales
Designing a knowledge-filled and engaging online sales training in line with the above tips will bring about these expected outcomes and so much more.
It will create an environment of learning and innovation in the company.
It will give team members a chance to come together and be creative
It will prepare them to be the best salespeople they can be.
So, do not rob yourself or your sales team of this opportunity. Design your sales training so that it's not just a roadmap to successful sales months, but is an invitation to your sales team to grow in skill and success. Check out Wingman’s Real-Time Sales Coaching Software to design the success-enabling sales training program you need.