Support Critical Sales Periods With Campaigns
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Support Critical Sales Periods With Campaigns

There are many things to consider when developing a corporate eLearning program and what components can be included to drive participation and overall success. One such component to consider is a training campaign. Training campaigns delivered through an eLearning program are great tools to drive engagement, increase brand advocacy, and generate more sales of your product or service. A type of campaign that can generate success is one that aligns with critical selling periods.

Establish Peak Sales Cycles

As with your overall eLearning platform, training campaigns need goals and objectives. What is your overall goal and what steps will you take to get there? Once these have been established, you’ll want to determine when those key selling periods of your customers occur. Let’s use retail sales for the PC industry as an example.

PC retailers have different sales cycles for assorting products. While some still include a spring assortment cycle, most have tightened their sales cycles into two critical periods:

  1. Back to School
  2. Holiday

So, for your industry, make sure to identify your customers’ critical selling periods. It’s important that you align the training campaign with your customers’ sales cycles. There should be a clear understanding of what participants need to know for generating more sales during these periods when customers are buying.

What products will be available to sell during these cycles? Is there an emphasis on one product over another? You want to be sure the campaign covers the products and services that will be on the shelf during these critical selling periods.

Knowing product availability and the beginning and end of the retailer’s peak sales period allow you to establish the beginning and end of your training campaign.

Understand What Industry Partners Are Selling

Keeping the PC retail sales industry as an example, sales cycles are not the only factors you want to consider when developing your eLearning training modules. You also need to understand the products being sold. Look at the other companies your customers are engaging with to assort products as well as your own industry partners who are part of, or play a role in, your product offerings.

There may be other products or services that enhance or complement your product. In that case, you may want to include training on those products as well since they could help increase sales of your product. Cross training on products that help sell your product or service is a win-win for everyone.

For example, our Intel® Retail Edge Program delivers training not only on Intel® processors and technologies but also provides a way for our OEM partners who use our products to provide their own training. This offers a holistic training approach to participants. It also gives added exposure for our OEM partners and more focused training for our members on specific computers that are currently in or coming soon to their store shelves.

Align With Other Company Campaigns And Events

Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “Learning starts at home.” Look at your own company’s organization and understand, in a broader sense, what is being done in the marketplace. Are there consumer campaigns that also align with your efforts for the training campaign? Is there a corporate initiative underway or coming up? Are there new products or brand launches in the works?

Begin at home and, if possible, align the campaign with your own company’s initiatives. Training campaigns have proven to be extremely successful in driving activation and awareness for new brands, products, or other initiatives.

Additionally, you can create campaigns around specific events within your industry. Most industries have at least one key event during the year where attendees are tuned in to new products being promoted or launched. These events can be considered critical selling periods themselves and can prove beneficial for a training campaign.

Create A Communication Plan

A calendar of communications is essential to the success of any training campaign. Who will get the word out and how? What communication vehicles are available to help drive awareness? Communications about the campaign can be served up in multiple ways based on the capabilities of your eLearning platform. Emails, banner ads, and eBlasts are effective forms of communication to keep participants informed before, during, and after the campaign.

Who else is partnering with you that might also have vehicles you can use to get the word out? For example, if you are partnering with another company that complements or uses your product, then they can help spread the word through their own communication channels.

Much like a content editorial calendar, a communications calendar lets everyone on the administrative side of the campaign see what type or format of communication is being sent out and when, who is sending it out, and how it will be delivered to participants. When done correctly, a communications calendar keeps the team organized and is effective in driving awareness throughout all stages of the campaign.

Break Campaign Into Stages

Training campaigns can be structured in many ways. However, breaking out the campaign into stages helps increase participant buy-in and overall success of the campaign in general.

Once you know the beginning and end of selling periods and when products or services will be available, back out from there to plan for the eLearning campaign to properly align with those timeframes.

Consider implementing an activation period, the training/learning period, and a campaign conclusion.

1. Activation Period

The activation period for the campaign occurs a few weeks to a month before the sales cycle begins. It is the critical time to get buy-in from the people who are going to be trained and their managers. Getting management’s support is key. When they can see the value in their employees participating, they will support your efforts and encourage their teams to participate.

You’ll also want to think about internal buy-in needed from your company. Who within your own walls needs to support your efforts for creating the campaign?

During the activation period, you will let people know the campaign is coming and lay out what participants will learn during the campaign and how it will benefit them to take part. This is the time when you show why the training will be worth their time and effort.

If all concerned parties don’t understand how they will benefit from the campaign, you will have less buy-in and participation.

2. Training Period

The training period is exactly that. It is the time when participants are trained on products or services that were outlined during the activation period. Outline your training so both participants and their managers know what is expected and how much time is required. They should have a clear understanding of training objectives and how those relate to the products or services they provide.

Make sure training content is easily digestible. Chunk it into short, bite-sized pieces. Participants will have an easier time remembering the content and it will be respectful of their time commitment.

A training period generally lasts about four to six weeks. Ideally, it is timed to begin when products or services for the peak selling period are available for purchase. This is important to keep in mind as you don’t want to train on products that aren’t available during the selling period.

3. Campaign Conclusion

The conclusion of the campaign is the wrap-up period. This is when rewards and recognition are delivered to individuals or teams. It’s when you will determine the outcome of the training period.

Be sure to offer some rewards and recognition for those taking the training. They want to feel appreciated for the time and effort they put in, especially if they are taking the training on their own time. Rewards and recognition, such as leaderboards and badges, go a long way in inspiring participants to train both now and in the future.

Measure Success

It’s very important to be able to measure the success of your training. How well did participants do? Was there a change in behavior? How well did your company do? Did you meet the goals and objectives you established during the planning phase of the campaign?

If you are in a retail environment, mystery shops are a great way to gauge performance and measure success. Conduct a pre-assessment mystery shop right before the training period begins to gauge the audience’s current knowledge level. Then, conduct a post-assessment mystery shop during the conclusion period to measure performance and success.

Pre- and post-exams are also useful tools for measuring the effectiveness of a training campaign. Again, the pre-exam would occur just before or at the beginning of the training period, followed by a post-assessment at the conclusion of the campaign.

It’s All About Synergy

Remember, training campaigns in a corporate eLearning environment are all about synergy. By defining the critical selling periods of your customers, your industry partners, and your own company, you can create dynamic and engaging training campaigns that benefit everyone.

Do you include campaigns that are part of your eLearning program that align with critical selling periods? Let’s discuss what worked best and what elements can be improved.

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