Sales Training Delivery MethodsTechnology and the internet have given many more options with regard to how training is actually delivered. Most of the key methods are shown below.
A quick Google search will show over 15 million entries for elearning. Its a big, and growing, topic with many potential application areas and a great many supporters. However, we believe it has limitations in sales training.
Most elearning being commercially developed and delivered today is not interactive (called asynchronous). Elearning can also be synchronous, where there is interaction between the facilitator and participants, and we have participated in trials of video technology (webinairs and webcasts) for synchronous sales training.
These trials were complex to set up and run, for both the training team and the company''s IT department. But we are sure these issues can be remedied in the future, especially if the training is being run on a campus basis.
Currently, we would recommend elearning modules as a way of bringing participants up to a common level of understanding. Somewhat like DVD/CDs, but probably with an interactive web-based assessment at the end of each module that can be captured by L&D.
Both standard modules and tailored elearning training is available, with the normal cost versus effectiveness equation to be considered.
Face to Face Training
Many consider this to be the "old way" of sales training. Getting a small group of 10 to 15 sales people in a room and getting them to learn by role playing, working in teams on case studies or working on their own live accounts.
We believe if done properly, face to face training still is very engaging and can actually translate into changes in behaviour back in the field. However, it is often a mismatch of thinking, part product knowledge dump, part case studies that aren''t appropriate to the participants and part humiliation of the people chosen to stand at the front and role play in front of their peers.
Our view is simple, we want to create an environment where real learning can take place, and sales people are encouraged to try new things. So small teams of three for the role plays, with each team member taking it in turns to play the sales person, the customer and an observer, who leads the feedback sessions positively.
We also now make a virtue of not using PowerPoint. Each participant has their own workbook containing the exercises (individual, pairs, threes and teams) and space to note down the information from the various exercises and flip chart sessions. Why do we recommend this approach. Its fresh, its fully interactive and very engaging for both the facilitator and participants. Too many facilitators hide behind a snow storm of PowerPoint charts and technology.
Add some DVD sessions into the mix plus some team competitions and we are starting to get a lively session. We would also recommend finishing off with action planning - what are they going to change, what will they do differently following the training. Even better if this is shared with their managers and sales coaches.
Some people label this form of training the "sheep dip". It is often carried out at the yearly sales team meeting or the launch of a new product. Most of these events are seen as team bonding sessions that tend to involve lots of liquid being consumed late into the night!
At best, we feel that the effectiveness of such events is limited. But you answer, we have the sales force all in one place at the same time, what better opportunity to train them (and it won''t cost much!)?
We see the logic, but we are still concerned about how engaged the audience will be especially as "death by PowerPoint" is often the chosen method of delivery.
If you do want to do this, please make the sessions short, focused, interactive and based on small teams, maybe competing for prizes. We find teams of about 6 works well, and we have developed some interesting ideas for how to get the teams functioning and interacting, even after the night before!
The "Power Hour" concept isn''t new, but maybe the way it can be used can improve the effectiveness of your sales training.
We have seen the idea used in the past by companies that want to reduce sales time away from the desk or off the road. The idea is to fire the training at the sales team for just an hour, often at 8.00 am, and hope something sticks.
We would recommend that power hours are used more for re-enforcement than the first line training. In fact, if your own sales managers are trained to do this, it becomes very cost effective and an excellent way of both sales and management working on the same ideas.
What can we say? Probably the least engaging of all the various training options. However, it still has its place and can be used effectively to distribute technical information to a large, disparate sales team.
It also has one advantage over elearning, it that the demands placed on I.T. are not as great. Everyone just needs access to a DVD/CD player on a PC. With elearning there can be minimum configuration issues on desktops/notebooks as well as network access issues for remote members of the sales team.
On The Job Training
We all do on the job training as part of our normal roles within our companies. What we are talking about here, is a more formal approach to on the job training.
Learning by watching experienced people and then doing it yourself in the real world under supervision, with feedback, is the very best way to learn. Unfortunately, much of the so-called on the job training is really no training at all. New sales people are left to struggle along by themselves, without role models, with no real supervision and with no effective feedback.
We recommend that on the job training is built into any training program, but with thought given to how it is achieved and how best practice can be effectively shared throughout the team.
For more information about sales training please visit http://www.sales-training-consultants.co.uk
John Fowler is a sales and management trainer designing and delivering workshops across the world specifically for the IT industry. John can be contacted on his website at Sales Training Consultants.