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3 Reasons to Use Social Learning for Sales Training

A few years back, I was sitting through another full-day of sales training, when the instructor decided to introduce a new exercise to the day: “…Now draw the face of the last person that rejected an offer you had pitched”.

It was around this time that I started to calculate how much it was costing my company to have the entire sales force in training that day.

I had a really hard time figuring out how these exercises were supposed to help me sell my company’s technology to large, professional organizations.

Would they appreciate my crude hand drawn portrait and agree to see me? Does an increase in artistic ability lead to better negotiating skills? To this day I still wonder what I was supposed to get out of that exercise.

The last person that rejected an offer I pitched. (Maybe.)

Though this is the most vivid of odd sales training exercises I have been part of, it is by no means the only one. In fact, it seems that much sales training is designed not for adult, self-motivated, professional salespeople, but for shy school kids that need to be tricked into learning valuable skills.

I (and most professional sales people I have met) want to learn. I want to learn more about the product I am selling. I want to learn more about the people I am selling to and what drives their decisions. I want to learn techniques and tips to overcome the common hurdles that occur in the sales process. I want to learn how to be better and more effective at my job.

So if the desire to learn is there, what would ideal sales training look like?

Ideal Sales Training is Social

While Social Learning has been a buzzword in the training space the past few years, the basic concept is as old as humanity itself.

For eons, people have learned complex lessons from each other not by staring at one slide after another or even from listening to some elevated person in the front of a room telling them “do this” or “memorize that”, but they learn from speaking with each other, sharing stories of things tried and the resulting outcomes.

And what is more relevant to sales training then listening to somebody’s challenge and providing support where you can and then flipping the roles?

I know personally that I have learned the majority of my craft talking with others, breaking down successes and failures, experiments and results, unique problems and innovative solutions.

Ideal Sales Training is Self-Driven

One of the key traits that it takes to become a skilled salesperson is the ability to find your own source of motivation. You would never hire a salesperson that claimed to only do the bare minimum number of calls or emails or meetings that had been assigned him.

So then why would you only provide the bare minimum training and only when it fits your schedule?

Being self-driven means that I know I need to learn more and I probably know which areas I need to improve. If I am struggling in finding and prospecting new leads to fill my pipeline in the coming months, I want more training on prospecting NOW! I don’t want a general sales refresher course in 6 months when it is scheduled for the team. That is too late and not relevant for me.

Ideal Sales Training is Diverse

As mentioned previously, I truly do want to want to learn more in order to hone my sales skills.

As part of that effort I tend to read many different books on sales philosophy. What I don’t do is read a single book over and over and consider myself an expert because I have that book memorized to the letter.  And yet, one company I worked for had us do pretty much that by requiring us to take the same [product] sales training like clockwork.

It goes without saying that that strategy would not be an effective way to continuously improve. So why does so much sales training in an organization come from a single point of view? Do they think they have figured out the magical sales process that solves the problems millions of people have attempted to address for many many years?

Or is it just expedient to do it that way and not have to go out and find the best training from a multitude of sources?

I don’t know the answer to that question but I do know that if I would have had to sit through another series of courses on the [product] sales training, I would have just quit and become a marketer!

Sales by its very nature is complex, as it deals with people and organizations and all of the irrationality that comes with them. In order to adapt to the always changing ecosystem, I want to be prepared with a diverse toolbelt and the second hand experience of as many smart people as possible.

All of this is a long way to say that I want to learn in a way that treats me like an adult and recognizes that I am just as much, and likely more so, invested in improving my own capabilities as my employer is.

A Social Learning Platform For Sales Training

That is where the Learning Pool Platform, a Social Learning Platform steps in. It is designed to provide the training your employees actually want, in a way that makes it easy for them to want it.

It all starts with the ability to curate content from many sources (YouTube, Captivate, blogs, in-house proprietary content, visual case studies, podcasts, etc.). Once you have curated a diverse set of best-of-breed content, the course in only just starting to take shape.

The social learning aspects of Learning Pool Platform guarantee that the knowledge transfer will not just be from the content to the salespeople, but also from salesperson to salesperson. Start dialogues around content pieces to let your people share ideas, related experiences, and critiques so  everybody can learn from those insights.

You can even make your salespeople content creators by asking for a short video example of them practicing a situation or a written example of an email they might send in a certain situation.

Going back to my ‘perfect sales training’ scenario above, Learning Pool Platform fits the bill on all accounts:

1. Learning Pool Platform is Social

  • It offers freedom and openness in lessons
  • It allows for direct feedback from peers and colleagues

2. Learning Pool Platform allows for Self-Driven learning

  1. It’s always on and available
  2. It provides video functionality for practicing pitches
  3. It’s easy to track and measure learning outcomes and activity using xAPI

3. Learning Pool Platform offers Diversity

  1. You can curate and pull in content from a multitude of sources, both proprietary and from across the broader internet
  2. It facilitates easy tracking and measurement of learning outcomes and activity using xAPI

Athletes are taught to practice like they want to play, so why wouldn’t you treat your salespeople the same?  Engage your salespeople in the same way they will engage with customers: socially!

To see how other top brands are using Learning Pool Platform to better train their salespeople, take a look at some of our client case studies.

Or to find out what Learning Pool Platform could do for you, arrange a demo – I’d love to show you more!

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