Mobile Learning Examples That Think Outside The Box

Mobile Learning Examples That Think Outside The Box
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Summary: This article is part of a series on Mobile Learning. The focus of this article is on the options that might be available to salespeople with more robust mobile development.

Innovative Mobile Learning Examples

What you are about to read is a fable. The company, AshCom, is fictional, but the mobile learning challenges faced by Kathryn, AshCom’s CLO, and her team are real and commonly shared by learning teams in corporations, non-profits, associations, and education. It is our hope that you will be able to connect with the characters, their challenges, and the solutions they discover. We also invite you to read the first eBook in the series.

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The “What-If” Session With Ronda

The words “Vice-President of Sales” was newly etched beneath Ronda’s name on the frosted glass of her executive office door. Just inside that door, Ronda sat at her desk, lost in thought. She was inquisitive, and once she had a problem in her head, she tumbled it around until a solution came to her. She also had a researcher’s mind, which had served her well in her engineering program in college and in her first job at one of the world’s largest medical device manufacturers.

When she made the transition to the sales team, she spent weeks interviewing established salespeople and those who lead them. Her questions were not only about techniques but also about the systems that built a sales culture. Her initial and subsequent research helped her develop her own system that led to strong annual improvements and stretch goals being met each year for a series of years. Her previous employer was sorry to see her leave.

Honoring AshCom’s Accomplishments

Her first months at AshCom were spent asking questions of her sales team to ensure she had a firm grasp on their approach to sales. She didn’t talk much about her former employer and said nothing about wanting to input her sales system. Her desire was to communicate that she valued what the AshCom sales team had done and that she took their history seriously.

Ronda had a unique approach to problem solving. After making sure she understood the problem, she spent most of her time thinking about “what if” questions. They were more like thought experiments. Often, they led to dead ends, but she didn’t quickly dismiss any idea. Her process was inspired by a book she read on Einstein and how his daydreaming about some of the biggest questions of the universe had led to some of the most radical changes in understanding how the universe works.

Embracing The System

Ronda dedicated time thinking about how she would deliver the learning experiences to the AshCom sales team and the newly acquired Globex sales team in her system. Teaching them the system was one thing. They would come to know it and be able to do it. But getting them to embrace and invest themselves in it would be more challenging. Making it even more complex, the account executives were spread across the United States and Canada, which meant they were rarely in the same place at the same time.

Her first “what if” was what if the whole experience could all be mobile? That thought led her to ask for a meeting with Kathryn, AshCom’s Chief Learning Officer. Not one to hand difficult problems off to others, Ronda continued to think about it.

Her next “what if” was less defined. She thought how could we create this experience from the customer perspective? At first, her own question struck her as a little odd. Customers probably didn’t even think about sales learning for AshCom account executives.

As sometimes happened in her thought experiments, another idea popped up. What if the learning opportunities developed for AshCom’s sales team could also be used with customers? If so, could they lead to more sales opportunities during customer interactions?

Meeting With Kathryn

These thoughts prompted another meeting with Kathryn. It was only the second time they spent significant time together without others in the room, but each had a growing appreciation for the other.

Ronda began the meeting by explaining a bit of her process. She told Kathryn that she had been reading around mobile learning. She had listened to several recorded webinars too, trying to glean as much information as possible. Ronda’s methodical approach appealed to the same instincts in Kathryn.

An Elegant Solution

“I want to remind you of a key word from our last meeting,” said Ronda.

Smiling, Kathryn said, “Elegant. I remember. You want to find an elegant solution. My learning team and I have had two meetings since we last met. The first was an opportunity to get to a common definition of mobile and then create a list of pros. In the second meeting, we built a list of cons. I probably shouldn’t use the word ‘con.’ I mean more the challenges we will face to get to the elegant solution your sales team needs.”

“I very much appreciate your work and that of your team, Kathryn. To be transparent, I am not here for an update, although I would love to hear that at another time. I want to discuss two additional ideas. Actually, the first is more of a report of findings, and the second is an additional idea, as if I haven’t already given your team enough to tackle.”

“My team is always up for a challenge,” said Kathryn.

The Data Points

“Before we get to that, I thought I would share some data points from some of my salespeople. I’ve had conversations with about two dozen sales members, both local and non-local, and the idea of an app resonated strongly with them. With several, we started talking about mobile learning, and they immediately went to applications. It seems they aren’t big fans of the learning management system we have. Speed and simplicity seemed to be the biggest drivers. They talked about the annoyance of having to log into the LMS and then search for the learning they wanted. An app would make that a lot faster and simpler.”

“Some of the more tech savvy salespeople talked about being able to save some things offline,” Ronda continued. “Because they spend a lot of time on the road and don’t always have good internet connection in clients’ buildings, they would love to be able to access learning no matter where they are.”

“That makes a lot of sense,” said Kathryn.

“It does,” said Ronda. “One of my account executives did some of his own homework and told me that through an app, it would also be easier to share the learning materials with others. A more social way to learn from one another.”

“We call that ‘peer-to-peer’ learning, and I can tell you it creates a powerful learning culture when learners can push information to their peers,” said Kathryn.

Mobile Learning Examples: Making A Connection

Ronda said, “One more thing came up in my own reading. It seems like it might be possible for me to connect learning experiences with their sales performance. In other words, I would be able to see how learning was actually paying off in their sales performance. That would be a huge leap forward for us.”

“So, ROI metrics in real time connecting learning to results,” said Kathryn. “And it could be person-specific so that you could see how learning changes behavior for a single individual. That’s powerful.”

“I thought so too,” said Ronda. “And now to the challenge. I don’t know if it is a good idea - or even a possible idea - but since it occurred to me, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. The research I’ve been doing is making me wonder if we could add another layer to the experience for my sales team.”

Adding Another Layer

Kathryn was intrigued. This was not the conversation she thought they would be having, but Ronda’s seriousness ensured this would be interesting.

“I don’t have a lot of definition around this yet, but what if we could create learning experiences that could be used for our account executives but also for our customers and potential customers? What if part of it could be used in our customer sales meetings?”

“That’s an interesting idea,” said Kathryn. “Let me tell you where my mind is. I’ve been thinking about broader applications too. If we can greatly improve our delivery through mobile devices for sales, we can take these lessons and apply them to the rest of the learners at AshCom. But I hadn’t thought about learners outside of the company.”

“That’s part of my sales system,” said Ronda. “I want our account executives to start thinking of themselves as teachers as much as salespeople. If we can educate our customers and they think of us as trusted advisors rather than just suppliers, we become so much more than manufacturers. You know I used to be at a medical device manufacturer. A big part of my success was transitioning the way our salespeople thought of themselves and their role. We can do that here and maybe this is the time to begin that process.”

Shifting Perspectives

Kathryn paused a moment before responding. In all her years of leading learning teams, she had never heard this perspective before.

“Including customers as learners,” said Kathryn. “Fascinating. I suppose this means mobile learning just became even more important. Do you have any ideas for how to do this successfully?”

“Yes,” said Ronda. “Again, I’m not a learning expert, but I have been doing some reading. Augmented reality is intriguing. Could we provide it for our salespeople and for educating our customers? How cool would it be to show our products inside our customers’ location virtually?”

Tackling The Tech Specs

Ronda continued, “I’ve been reading about single line Beacon Tracking – Bluetooth technology that could communicate with smart phones in proximity. Could we include this in our learning, allowing our salespeople and customers to have everything they would ever need to know about our products built right into our products? Every salesperson would know all the specs of our equipment already in place and could even know its age and history. We could also build learning into the equipment.”

“You’ve done some serious research,” said Kathryn with an appreciative smile.

Introducing Gamification

“One more thing,” said Ronda. “I’ve been reading about gamification, and I would love to see some of these elements in the sales learning. Salespeople tend to be highly competitive. They usually like open competition so things like games they play against each other would work well. They want to win. Sales itself is kind of like a game. It might be the best game in business. Maybe it is something beyond just a leaderboard.

Maybe it is an actual game. I read about a company in Europe that developed a digital game kind of like Monopoly, except the goal was to instruct up-and-coming managers how to make key financial decisions in a scenario that matched their company. They played as individuals and teams, and the competition really increased their financial knowledge.”

Taking Notes

As Ronda spoke, Kathryn was taking notes, only occasionally looking up to make eye contact with Ronda. “I want to assure you that I’m listening, but I also want to make sure I don’t miss any of these ideas. This may be one of the more interesting conversations about learning that I’ve ever had.”

“I apologize,” said Ronda, “if it seems like I’ve dumped a bunch of giant ideas in your lap and then stepped back. I don’t know much about how to implement any of these things, but I’m pretty sure they would be highly effective if we could figure out how to do some of them.

“I promise you my team will put these ideas at the top of the list. We will figure out some options and come back to you with what we think we can and cannot do. Give me a little time to sort through this with them. They are very bright people - something I hope to prove to you soon.”

“I’m sure they are,” said Ronda. “I can’t wait for our next conversation.” The two shook hands and parted, each excited for where these ideas would take them.

Conclusion

To read the rest of the chapters in this series on Mobile Learning and to see Kathryn and her team solve their challenges, please download the eBook How L&D Leaders Are Using Mobile Learning To Increase Performance And Revenue. It can help you determine if custom mobile learning is the right approach for your organization and uncover tried-and-tested methods. Also, join the webinar to learn how custom mobile apps can empower sales teams.

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