The ongoing effects of COVID-19 demands an evolution of the sales workforce. Most sales teams confront the unexpected mandate to adjust their workflows and sales procedures to match the current needs of the business and customers. Additionally, it means developing a new training approach to keep your salespeople motivated and engaged.
How can microlearning technologies like Qstream address the major changes in your business and sales models to foster growth during this challenging time?
What Does Virtual Training Mean for You?
As a sales training or enablement leader, your entire sales training strategy is going to look a lot different nowadays. Traditional in-person onboarding, sales kick-offs, sales quarterly business reviews (QBR’s), and product training are suspended for at least the short-term, probably even longer. For that matter, more and more sales teams face the need to immediately master remote selling. Taking in-person training away from people has forced them to think outside the box, and furthermore to think deeper about was training this way even effective?
Virtual training isn’t just about turning your in-person training and delivering it through a video conference tool like Zoom. Nor is it effective to resort to traditional e-learning through a learning management system. Content that’s in your learning management systems (LMS) is most likely not relevant to the new sales models that have been put into place because of all of the changes businesses are making in regard to the effects of COVID-19. Also, every moment an impatient sales professional spends sitting through time-consuming LMS courses is time away from selling. Analytics from an LMS is historically insufficient for sales managers or trainers in determining if their salespeople are understanding what’s being taught (we call this proficiency). In a time where salespeople need to be highly adaptable in selling virtually and connecting with their customers on a personal level (remember your customers are going through business change as well) selling has never been more difficult. Now more than ever before, sales learning and development is extremely important for enabling salespeople with upskilling and reskilling opportunities to meet the new demands of your business and the needs of your customer all while selling from home.
What the sales function is confronting is an inexorable shift to remote learning in support of the demand to master the skills of remote selling.
Since both the way your team is learning and the training itself has changed, there’s a lot of moving pieces to lockdown in order to keep your business running smoothly. That’s why we’re taking a deeper dive into how to train your remote salespeople with new skills, refreshing their existing skill sets, and how to keep them motivated and engage them along the way in today's virtual selling world.
How to Successfully Train Your Remote Sales Team
The best place to start is assessing your sales organization’s current skill to be aware of each individual salesperson’s knowledge and find out where there are gaps. Initial virtual sales training is generally a basic course or workshop and can be delivered through video conferencing software but as you know, there is no single training session that can cover everything you need in one go. Your salesperson all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences, some may have already sold remotely before so you need to take into consideration the different variations of knowledge sets you’re working by assessing those knowledge gaps and using personalized learning that will meet the needs of each salesperson.
Sales training professionals have had to find better ways to reinforce topics throughout the normal workday without disrupting anyone’s workflow. We discovered that a great way to do this is by pushing “bite-sized” chunks – no longer than 2-minutes per topic – so your team can stay focused on their work and implement teachings into their day-to-day with ease. Mobile-first remote learning is essential in this effort. Even with more people at home, the “device of first attention” for most people is their mobile phone.
The key to keeping reps engaged is to feed them information that is relevant to what they’re experiencing every day. Microlearning platforms like Qstream provide an easy method for learning by utilizing spaced repetition and testing. By delivering training this way, salespeople are able to incorporate the lessons into their daily routines and use that knowledge in real-time.
Additionally, these reinforced training sessions can be done in pockets of free time rather than salespeople having to carve time out of their day to get it done. This way, everyone gets constant refreshers and reinforcement without any of the inconvenience.
How to Keep Your Remote Sales Team Motivated and Engaged
It’s no secret—no one really likes training. While in-person sessions at least provided an opportunity to network and socialize, training at home can be rather dry and boring. Instead of making your team suffer through an average lesson, you can incorporate methods to make the process more fun. Salespeople are naturally competitive, so an easy way to make your sales representatives engage is to make training a challenge.
Through popular microlearning applications like Qstream, driving engagement is easy by hosting leaderboards to track progress and provide a rank system for friendly competition even while being remote.
Specific Skills to Focus On
Now you know how to train your team while being distant, but what exact skills should you be focusing on for a salesperson to be successful in remote selling? We’ve come up with some of the top skill sets to focus on, so your sales reps will be prepared to handle their new normal.
Presenting Sales Pitches
Since your team is now a virtual-only selling unit, they have to learn different ways to present information to potential customers. It’s harder to engage with people through technology, so your presentation skills need to be even more engaging.
Listening and Responding
It’s not just how you communicate, but also your ability to listen and respond to feedback in real-time. No matter what you’re selling there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution, so you have to tie what you’re offering directly to the buyer’s needs.
Building rapport is inherently easier when you’re standing in front of someone. Different requirements exist for remote selling and the virtual conversations that go with them, including steps that are essential to gain the trust of the person you’re speaking to.
Possibly the most obvious skill your salespeople will need is the ability to operate all your systems efficiently so they can deliver a successful product demonstration, operate video conferencing tools, and handle any back-end issues that arise before, during, or after sales pitches.
Reframing Your Message
On top of training procedures being flipped on their heads, your target markets’ needs have shifted dramatically, too. Normal sales pitches can come off as tactless and disrespectful in these times of difficulty, so be sure to rework your messaging to meet people’s new needs.
Of course, every organization upskilling and reskilling needs for a virtual selling will be different so that’s why starting with an assessment is a critical component to know what your audiences’ learnings needs are and finding where those skills gaps are related to the businesses goals.
Tying It All Together
In these times, professional salespeople are witnessing an unprecedented change in all aspects of the business world that will echo for years to come. Being an active part of this shift is crucial to the success of your business and the individuals that keep it running. Normal methods of learning won’t cut it in these difficult times, which is why we want to help you help your team adapt as quickly as possible. Across the board, microlearning technology like Qstream is the key to identifying the skills each individual person needs to learn and promoting long-term retention. Qstream is committed to making sure you keep moving forward no matter what the world throws at you. We’re here to help support your learning strategy for getting the learning outcomes your business needs. Watch our quick 2-minute video on Qstream’s microlearning technology or get a personalized product tour to learn more.