Blended Learning And mLearning For Sales Training Success
Being in a sales job is anything but easy. At some level, I feel that you need to be a master juggler to be a successful sales person. Sales people, it seems, do multiple things at the same time. We keep our eye on our targets, are aggressive in sourcing business, manage to make reports, and amongst all of this have high-quality customer interactions. In my career in sales, I have seen many people assume that sales people have to be master talkers. I agree that at some level we need to be great communicators, but what is important is that we need to talk sense… a lot of it. We need to be adept at listening to our clients, understand their stated and unstated needs, and be capable of providing them with the right solutions. If I were asked what was the “one thing” all successful sales people have to do constantly and continuously, I would say “learning” without missing a beat. Or else, sales training.
Knowing a product back to front is a part of a sales person's job. No matter how great a talker or listener you might be, if you don’t know your product or service thoroughly then the chances of closing a sale become smaller. In situations where new products get released every day, a pertinent question is “how do we get all the sales people in one room and train them on a specific product/service/module?”. After all, we have to be out in the field making sales calls, meeting customers, and travelling. I am a part of a large sales team in an advanced machine tools company. Given the nature of my business, I need to travel extensively and hardly get to spend much time in the office. I quite like the mobile nature of my work. My laptop and my phone are my real office. Put me anywhere where I have an internet connection and I can get my work done.
While this mobility is great, it does become a problem when I need to attend a product sales training session organized by my company at the same time as an important business deal. Understanding the plight of people like me, my company introduced a blended learning and mLearning program within the organization for product and knowledge development.
We had recently launched a complex new product which I needed to learn before going ahead and pitching it to my clients. Unlike my past learning and sales training sessions that were long and exhaustive day long (sometimes even more) events, this time the learning module was completely different. The sales training on the product was provided via blended learning where the traditional classroom setting was combined with eLearning and mLearning to create a sort of hybrid teaching method. We were introduced to the product and its nuances in a detailed session that included in-person classroom activities in a personal session conducted within our office premise. We were then provided with online learning materials, pre-recorded lectures, as well as independent study materials that required us to do homework/assignments etc. as if we were in class. The content was pretty exhaustive, but delivered in small bite-sized pieces that were easy to consume at my own pace. The great thing was I could complete my training and take the assessment while on the go.
I realized how much this training had helped me when I went to a customer meeting and made a pitch regarding this product. During this pitch, I was asked many questions by the customer that I could mainly answer because of the exhaustive but easy-to-absorb content. The course also had some case studies and assessments on objection handling on the product. This ensured that the learning, though precise, was in-depth and useful. I was, at many points, faced with questions which I wouldn’t have been able to field as confidently as I did this time. The demos provided in the course made sure that I was able to understand all the nuances and workings of the product. I’ll be honest, at one point I did get stuck on a very technical aspect of the product. I, however, was able to give my client a timely and informed answer since the entire course module was accessible from my smartphone. I knew which module to access, looked it up quietly, and gave a confident and capable answer.
Looking back to the start of my career, I would have gone to such meetings as a nervous wreck. I still am just that bit wound up when I go to pitch something new. However, as this meeting progressed I could sense that things were going well, and I also had a very strong feeling that I would be able to close this sales deal faster than usual. Funny thing is, I did.