How informal learning technology can support sales enablement

    Here we will discuss some of the factors to be considered regarding sales enablement. This piece will also suggest tips for more effective learning delivery and engagement, via ‘informal learning’ technology.

    Meeting revenue targets is a fundamental activity for commercial organisations. Therefore, it is essential to have highly-skilled, knowledgeable and engaged customer-facing teams. For L&D professionals, who might spend an average of 17% of budgets on sales and product/service-knowledge (Source: Brandon Hall, 2019), the amount, type and effectiveness of training delivered is of huge importance. Any training may need to be constantly revised and assessed for quality and effectiveness.

    Why not formal learning?

    Most organisations aim to have client-facing teams armed with the information they need to be knowledgeable, capable and productive quickly. This aims to maximise return on investment (RoI).

     

    An illustration of the most pressing sales training needs

    Most pressing sales training needs

     

    While ‘formal’ learning is still an important element of training for organisations, there are a number of drawbacks associated. For instance, it is well-known that Ebbinghaus’ the ‘forgetting curve’ – see, eg, Shrestha, (2017) – suggests that retention of information drops to 40% the first few days after receiving information.  (Although other external factors can affect an individual retention rate). Consider the time taken out by skilled professionals (eg, sales managers) to deliver training, and regularly repeat it. Clearly, formal training can become very resource-intensive for, arguably, a less than effective return.

    Why informal learning?

    While considerable discussion can be obtained around formal learning delivery, we will focus here on informal learning. It is almost essential to consider informal ways of training staff, as the profile of overall workforces change. Organisations increasingly try to meet the differing needs of a contemporary workforce. L&D professionals are conscious that teams may comprise a variety of learning styles or preferences, according to generational reasons or, merely, convenience.

    Add to this the profile of groups whose individual team members often work remotely, spending considerable time ‘in the field’. It seems logical that mobile delivery channels for information updates are absolutely necessary for these professionals. Additionally, mobile delivery is of high importance for all organisations attempting to be proactive and speedy in their content delivery. This supports attempts to create sustainable competitive advantage for the wider organisation.

    Effectiveness

    Consider then what aspects of informal learning delivery are pertinent for the needs of internal audiences?

    In a survey, Brandon Hall, 2018, found that the ‘Top 3’ most effective methods of learning delivery (see Chart 2) were considered: microlearning, mobile learning delivery and informal ‘peer-to-peer learning’. If these are all elements that can easily be combined into technology that can reach those global, remote workers, then it seems obvious that technology is the answer to provide efficient and quick sales enablement.

     

    Learning methods in order of effectiveness

     

    Applying effective learning methods to informal learning

    So, how can you optimise your informal learning efforts? In order to deliver effective sales team enablement consider the functionality that informal learning technology solutions deliver.

     

    The table below outlines some of the ways in which technology can remove pertinent barriers and provide a greater RoI on knowledge-based content delivery.

     

    How to tailor training to client-facing teams

     

    As discussed in the table, there are a number of ways in which technology can accelerate your organisational learning goals for a global client-facing audience. Your audience may also include external groups (such as VARs, consultants, etc) in addition to internal colleagues.

    Priorities and tips for successful sales training

    We have now considered the demonstrable benefits that informal-learning technology can bring. We have also discussed how these systems might meet the specific needs of those ‘brand ambassadors’, so important to your organisations. Learning investment decisions and deployments are so critical to this group. What other advantages might informal learning bring to your RoI?

    • Speed of delivery: technology can provide almost instantaneous knowledge-based content

     

    • Personalisation: many informal learning solutions allow for dynamic content delivery to ‘communities’ that can be selected by skills/functions/or other criteria

     

    • Moderation: most systems will allow for some element of moderation or ‘authentication’ of discussion/content sharing

     

    • Cost efficiencies: for medium to large multi-national organisations, having a scalable knowledge-based collaboration tool can improve demands on internal resources

     

    How can informal learning technology benefit the wider organisation?

    So, we have discussed a multitude of ways in which L&D professionals can proactively optimise sales enablement across entire client-facing teams. However, it is useful to consider not just how individual practice can be improved, but how organisations can improve their strategic or transformational objectives overall, with informal learning solutions. Many businesses will be focused at the most senior level in ensuring that they create ‘sustainable competitive advantage’, in order to survive. With sales teams a core component of these objectives, then providing them (and the wider organisation) with a collaborative tool that provides a ‘continuous feedback loop’, as suggested by Kolb’s, 1984, ‘experiential learning cycle’ aims to ensure that the organisation and individuals learn to perform and continuously improve.

     

    eXact learning solutions has been supporting its global clients with ‘con-X’, a scalable, informal learning suite,  as an extension of the Learning Content Management System (LCMS). For more information about ‘con-X’, our free infographic on ‘How informal learning technology supports sales enablement’ or for a free demo, then please contact us.

     

    [A version of this article was first published in Learning Technologies Magazine 2020]