Improving Sales Coaching and Training with Modern Learning Techniques

Last updated: 02-11-2019

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Improving Sales Coaching and Training with Modern Learning Techniques

Mark Magnacca, CEO ofAllego, talks about how we’re undergoing a revolution in learning delivery methods, driven largely by a shift in understanding of how the brain learns and retains information. Here’s how technological advances can help implement modern learning techniques that drive improved sales training outcomes.

The training industry is undergoing a revolution in learning delivery methods, driven largely by ashift in our understanding of how the human brain actually learns and retains information. Whereas previously popular techniques for corporate coaching and training have largely focused on PowerPoint presentations and company-wide kickoff events, this new paradigm places increasing value on learning reinforcement, peer-to-peer coaching, and the continuous delivery of bite-sized and easily accessible content. Arguably the most widely affected business function is sales training, which has seen countless new enterprise training technology platforms hit the market over the past few years.

As sales training organizations adjust their training and coaching programs to align with current modern learning methodologies, access to mobile and video technologies are perfectly aligned to help enable the next generation of training programs. Here’s how sales organizations can harness today’s technological advances to promote the use and adoption of modern learning techniques that drive improved sales training outcomes.  

Sales coaching involves the development of sales staff through meaningful conversations and metrics. It is conducted through a continuous process with a more personalized approach, where sales coaches help reps and managers identify individualized areas for improvement, create a plan to address any problems, and help motivate staff to reach a team goal.

Because learning preferences can vary widely, flexibility is the first – and perhaps greatest – advantage of using a modern sales learning and coaching tool. The majority of antiquated sales coaching programs leverage manager ride alongs, where managers fly out for a day of following their reps from call to call or meeting to meeting. Often, by the time the manager gets back to their desk and types up notes for the rep, too much time has passed for the feedback to be valuable. In addition, with the rise of geographically dispersed sales teams, many reps only receive feedback sporadically when a ride-along occurs, instead of continuously as is prescribed by modern learning initiatives.

With a constantly accessible sales training platform and using video-based coaching tools, managers can interact with each team member up to four times more than they could when relying solely on ride alongs. For example, in a vertical such as Financial Services, there may be knowns roadblocks specific stages of the sales process, such as around a particular compliance issue, and with this modern learning approach, a manager can provide individualized coaching by asking a rep to record a video of their pitch for review before they walk into their next call. This type of coaching program opens a bi-directional and continuous line of communication between rep and manager, offering reps more frequent opportunities for mentorship and providing managers with more insight into a rep’s abilities.

It can be hard to get learners to utilize a new skill unless they have the tools to support and reinforce ongoing skill development. Sales learning and coaching platforms can help ensure reps are making use of their new knowledge and skills by demonstrating their improvement over time.

Video sales learning and coaching tools do this by making it easier to accurately benchmark the evolving skills of sales reps, helping them chart their progress three months, six months or 12 months later. For example, because teams can record product demos or sales presentations for feedback and scoring, reps get access to objective audio-visual benchmarks of where they were and where they are today. In short, they receive – and can leverage – empirical proof that their skills have developed over time, and can identify where additional room for improvement lies.

Additionally, one of the valuable by-products of a video-based coaching program is that organizations wind up with a slew of videos capturing great coaching interactions, so sales training and enablement professionals can easily mine them, break them down into digestible “bites,” and serve them up on an automated basis to sales reps at the right points throughout the sales cycle. This reinforcement of key knowledge and skills enables sales training professionals to implement and support training asynchronously – i.e., without having to get everyone into a room at the same time. Using this approach, managers can actually bypass the need for a lot of the coaching they must typically provide -- not to mention the savings on time and travel when coaching is done remotely.

Another key benefit of modern learning tools lies in their ability to quickly transform an organization’s top sellers and subject matter experts into peer trainers and coaches – without requiring any additional work on their part.

In fact, a peer-to-peer instruction is one of the main pillars of modern learning programs and the majority of reps prefer peer knowledge sharing over corporate or manager-generated content. Our survey of sales reps and their managers found the majority (65 percent) of sales representatives agree that sales pitch advice from peers is more effective than training from the corporation and that top performing sales organizations are 76 percent more likely to utilize peer-generated video content for training than other firms.

The ability for sales reps to share ideas and information quickly using mobile devices and videos opens the way for collaboration to a degree not possible before. By providing sales reps with access to the best-practice pitches of their top performing peers, sales reps are able to coach themselves by actively seeking out content to fill in any knowledge gaps they may have. Using a modern sales training platform, reps can easily access, watch, and share best practice videos created by their peers. Not only that, if a manager senses a rep needs improvement in a certain area, he or she can ask the rep to watch the pitch videos of top-performing peers and create their own for manager review and feedback. Not only are reps more likely to be receptive to content produced by their peers, but it takes some of the pressure off managers and sales trainers, who are often relied on to produce training content for every sales situation.

Modern learning solutions empower organizations to provide the best possible coaching and mentorship for their employees – coaching that is continuous, peer-to-peer enabled, and that leverages video-based tools. Sales organizations happen to have the most acute need for this new modern learning paradigm, but the practice isn’t only valuable for sales. Already, many cross-functional learning and development professionals are starting to embrace these new training and coaching techniques, and modern learning will continue to spread rapidly among forward-thinking organizations around the globe.


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