Sales rep schedules are subject to last minute changes and client demands. The number of distractions throughout the day bombard sales teams as they attempt to focus on the singular goal of managing a healthy pipeline. Staying up-to-date is essential for sales effectiveness, but a challenge as sales reps tend to daily tasks in a busy work environment.Sales effectiveness is heavily impacted by the sales training content and delivery format provided for sales reps. In fact, it is estimated that about $300 billion is spent globally on training programs and activities. It's clear that delivering information and learning is crucial for teams to maintain an advantage in the market.
The challenge lies in the delivery format and quality of the information to deliver to teams wherever they are. Effective transmission is crucial where innovation and staying ahead are central to keeping pace with market demands. In the constant flux of product information, frequent updates, customer feedback, sales reps' attention is drawn to other activities that distract them from executing the sales strategy of the business.
Minimise distractions in a sales reps day
The first step to combat distractions in a day is to reduce, postpone or eliminate tasks.
- Shut down email, chat channels for blocks of time in the day. Allow sales reps to limit responding or entering conversations to chunks of 30 minutes at a time, then return to key pipeline management tasks.
- Encourage teams to create a list of microtasks that need to get done to increase their pipeline health.
- Allow for breaks to give sales reps a quick reset. Stopping for 10 minutes or moving to another workstation give employees a restart throughout the day.
- Limit meetings. Schedule only necessary meetings on issues that otherwise cannot be solved via chat or email.
Offsite meeting energize, but sales reps need to retain
A single day of off-site training creates excitement and motivation, but falls short on supporting the continuity sales people need to stay on top of updated and key knowledge. Congregating sales reps in a room for a day keeps them focused and favors team building, but on-going input is what will keep them on top of the information they need to respond to the daily demands of the market. For sales reps managing multiple priorities, continuous training is crucial to keep information top-of-mind.
How training impacts sales effectiveness
It is commonly said that a sales rep is only as effective as the tools he is given. While this often refers to the applications and processes set in place to work, it also includes the training and guidance that a team member is given from his sales manager and during his training. While there are advanced LMS platforms, sizable investments in training, and sales platforms available, it is alarming that 84% of training content is forgotten within 30 days.
Every company hopes to hire sales reps who are passionate about their job; given not only in the context of productivity, but considering that most of us quickly forget information we are not interested in.
Sales effectiveness is therefore not simply a result of efficient technological tools but also effective sales training that ensures information retention and continuous learning. High quality sales training is important for businesses to grow and for employees to remain engaged with the work they are doing.
Some key findings based on research on the learning preferences of salespeople are:
- Coaching and peer learning are the highest ROI activities in relation to sales rep development
- The most important (and most used) development practice for sales reps is best practice sharing
- 3 areas identified as the most important improvement priorities were salesperson practice, microlearning, and online portal/enablement platforms.
- The 2 practises ranked as the least utilised and among the most effective, were microlearning and salesperson certification.
- Only 10% of the research respondents had fully implemented mobile-enabled training content, with about 32% not having mobile access for sales rep training content.
The importance of continuous learning for sales reps
Practise makes perfect, and this not only applies to the doing of an activity but also to the learning of said activity and the information therein. The more frequently we consume information related to a given topic, the more readily we can draw upon this knowledge when needed. This is why continuous learning is essential for sales reps to improve their sales effectiveness.
However, sales reps in their routine work are easily distracted, and sales distraction is responsible for more than half of global organisations (59%) missing their annual sales forecasts – according to research done by Accenture and CSO Insights. More than sneaking on social media during work, sales distraction in this context is in regard to the other activities sales reps engage in besides spending time selling or making sales to the customer. The research highlighted that 22% of sales rep’s time is spent on lead generation, and sales productivity decreased from 41% in 2011 to 36% as at 2016.
Continuous learning for sales reps helps sales managers keep their team focused on the most relevant data required for them to execute and sell to customers. Instead of a ‘binge and purge’ sales training that takes place at the onboarding stage, sales reps are much better equipped to do their job with spaced out intervals of regular training to increase their sales effectiveness. This can be achieved through microlearning.
Ensure knowledge retention with microlearning
Without constant reinforcement, we easily forget the things we have learnt. The Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve is a common rhetoric to explain the phenomenon of memory retention. Both consistency and format are key to knowledge retention.
Bite-sized information capsules are far more adapted to capturing attention and increasing what we remember. Small bits of content is a proven to be retained in a matter of minutes.
Package content in training is know as microlearning. It is fast becoming a highly effective way to enforcing continuous learning in companies without interrupting scheduled tasks while increasing employee engagement.
Microlearning involves delivering large chunks of information in bits and pieces over a consistent period of time. Training materials can be cumbersome and difficult to remember. Traditional formats like manuals, guides or slideshows can be too complex or too long to engage sales reps. Smaller bits of information is most adapted to capture their attention in a matter of minutes at a time.
The learning process in this sense can be self-paced by the learner. Atrivity uses microlearning to assist sales reps and employees learn and be more productive through the use of games. You can see how it works here.
Microlearning can be carried out in a number of ways, and with its market to be worth $14 billion by the end of 2022, it is an area that businesses are beginning to exploit in order to improve the training ROI.
To provide distraction-free, engaging, and continuous training for sales reps, content in a format that's easy to digest is essential. Microlearning fully responds to adapting to sales busy schedules and short attention span.