Remote learning was important before the circumstances of the first half of 2020. Now more than ever, sales organizations have an opportunity to deploy microlearning best practices to engage and coach remote teams to sustain relationships and build momentum into the second half of 2020. Managers play a central role in supporting employees with remote learning and coaching them towards reaching their goals as a part of achieving organizational objectives.
The Challenge: Remote Circumstances
Sales organizations typically have a high percentage of remote employees, even employees who are based in home offices often travel part of the time. But suddenly everyone’s a remote employee: sales representatives, inside sales, sales enablement, sales operations and other teams that play a crucial role to a sales organization's success. With everyone temporarily working from home, remote learning becomes one of the most powerful methods sales managers can use to engage, connect, and coach their teams during these uncertain times.
Shifting Everything Virtual is Temporary, But Remote Learning is Here to Stay
Predictions that there will no longer be face-to-face meetings in 2020 and that the world will be largely virtual from now on is greatly exaggerated. But, recent circumstances have highlighted the importance of employers being able to virtually connect with employees. More than ever, managers need to be at the forefront of this effort. It takes discipline, concentration and focus to motivate and develop remote sales reps.
Even if a manager has led teams with remote sales reps in the past, it’s a big adjustment to have the whole sales organization and other supporting teams working remotely. The combination of internal dislocation and your customers experiencing the same remote circumstances is challenging when managing the buying process. Whether a sales manager is a veteran with decades of experience or someone starting a new sales manager role in 2020, no one has experienced this before. How can the best managers adjust to the evolving remote paradigm? How can they coach effectively to make an immediate impact as a leader in a rapidly changing business climate?
The solution to a disengaged sales force is knowledge, information and clear communication. But how can sales managers coach effectively when their team is overwhelmed by information and other distractions while working from home? There’s only so much information that sales professionals can digest in a day, so how can sales managers ensure that their coaching offers direction towards productivity?
Here are ways that sales leaders can use best practice microlearning to engage, inspire, develop and lead their sales force through remote learning.
Sales Engagement for Learning: Develop without Distracting
It’s so easy to share information. Oftentimes, there’s too much information coming from different sources, sent by too many people. With the internet's democratization of data and information, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Sales managers struggle to keep reps focused with the right information they need to communicate effectively with customers. Sales managers can overcome this challenge by incorporating microlearning to deliver the information they need their reps to know in short, focused pieces of content. In order to have sales reps recall the information for when they need it during a customer interaction, scientifically proven learning methodologies must be applied to increase how much information sales reps can digest and retain. Given the competitive nature of sales reps, learning must be applied as a challenge and include gamification to drive engagement while making it a continuous activity. In this sense, microlearning isn’t just a trend of shrinking a lot of the same old content that’s out there, it's about engaging and focusing sales reps on the information that matters most, the things you can’t afford for them to forget.
In a busy world in which sales managers must compete for sales reps’ attention, microlearning is necessary to prompt engagement and stay productive. This form of learning has been scientifically proven through clinical trials that demonstrate the principles of microlearning actually stick with sales reps. The core principles of microlearning include:
- Make it a challenge: instead of pushing more passive content at sales reps, foster active thinking by composing microlearning as a scenario-based challenge.
- Make it short: everyone appreciates brevity (especially sales reps); quick learning exercises eliminates any excuse to complain about training. This happens when sales reps are forced to use a traditional learning system because it takes them away from customers and prospecting.
- Make it meaningful: the best microlearning programs are relevant to situations faced at work. It should be the information that matters most and help sales reps put learning into practice.
- Make it adaptive: when someone responds to a microlearning challenge they will receive it again until they have demonstrated mastery of that concept. Adaptive microlearning gives immediate feedback after a response to a challenge then reveals the right answer in real-time to the sales rep. This gives an opportunity for them to respond to the challenge again after a spaced time interval, thereby improving long-term knowledge retention.
- Make it a competition: sales reps are naturally competitive, and this natural competitiveness is proven to drive engagement by displaying individual and team leaderboard progress.
Manager Engagement for Sales Coaching
The purpose of microlearning is not only to deliver and reinforce critical information but it goes beyond that. All the responses data that is captured on proficiency levels translates to valuable insights that managers need to be effective coaches. Are sales teams gaining the proficiency they need to run a winning sales process and help customers experience a great buying experience? Are there areas where additional learning investments are needed? And now managers have precise data points on areas where they need to invest more time coaching to a specific individual or team.Microlearning provides managers with a flexible and more focused method for coaching their remote teams. Qstream enables managers with coaching and insights into their teams knowledge and capabilities. Qstream actively engages managers and enables them to be better coaches in the process. They don’t find out that a remote sales rep has a knowledge gap retroactively in a report when it's too late. Managers receive proactive alerts and reports to indicate where coaching opportunities exist. These include positive data points for encouraging and acknowledging sales reps who are excelling or those who need additional support on a specific topic. The ability to focus manager coaching efforts in a fact-based way is especially important in a remote learning situation, but also applies to traditional face-to-face connections. Managers can use this information to have targeted conversations on specific topics where knowledge gaps are identified and areas that will have the biggest impact on their performance.
In this sense, Qstream microlearning is also intended to engage managers in the effort to grow the overall proficiency of the entire sales organizations. Manager engagement is key to understanding the value of what information and learning is being expected of remote learners and in order to understand it, it's critical for managers to be involved in a sales learning program.
Analytics for Visibility into Organizational Performance Readiness
Data on individuals' proficiency levels gives managers the ability to have targeted, personalized coaching conversations to support remote sales reps. These analytics are used by managers to deliver targeted coaching for sales reps to make sure they are practicing the right behaviors. Having these conversations related to a sales reps individuals learning needs will get reps to start practicing the right behaviors to successfully meet the needs of the customer.
Here are some additional resources to give you better data-driven coaching habits that will help you navigate your sales organization through these challenges times so they close more deals, bring in more revenue and continue to crush their quota in order to achieve overall organizational goals.
- When it Comes to Sales Coaching, Focus Matters
- Do Your Sales Managers Have the Data Insights They Need to be Good Coaches?
- How to Build a Culture of Success Through Strong Corporate Coaching