Send In The Training Reinforcements

With interactive video training, businesses can apply learning reinforcement techniques needed to keep sales training from evaporating.

Not everyone is a born salesman. Effective sales techniques can be taught in the classroom (real or virtual), but too often that training disappears very quickly if the material is not reinforced. In his 2013 ATD blog, Sales Horizons co-founder Richard Ruff noted, “If your organization does not reinforce the skills learned during sales training, learning will decay—and decay will be rapid. Indeed, many skills may disappear within three months.”

Ruff and others maintain that coaching and institutional support (easily accessible messaging, success stories, etc.) are essential components of effective sales reinforcement. There’s nothing better for retention than role playing and sales simulations based on the product knowledge and practical wisdom of senior team members. However, very few companies can afford to do this live—or often.

Learning in an Asynchronous World

Sales enablement programs—like other corporate trainings—are increasingly held online. The on-demand world is (in theory) a better way to reach busy salespeople in many different time zones. Video, usually recordings from live training or webinars, can be accessed at the salesperson’s convenience. Online questions (separate from the video) can be used to measure comprehension. Unfortunately, this approach often fails for the same reason live training does. Without reinforcement, the knowledge evaporates.

So, how can reinforcement be applied to online, asynchronous video training? How can coaching and peer review be applied when the instructor (or sales manager) is not in the same room as the salesman?

The answer is in the degree of interactivity. Remote role-playing is relatively straightforward with the use of a webcam, but the real secret is what happens after the salesman records his response to a simulated sales scenario:

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The more immediate the feedback is, the more reinforcement value the training provides. Timecode-specific comments can be added by the sales manager or other instructor, or by the salesperson’s peers. Scoring rubrics can also be added—within the video—to rate each salesperson’s delivery, appearance, product knowledge, or level of active listening to a simulated prospect. These elements can help give immediate feedback to the salesperson in training.

Good sales training is an essential part of today’s highly competitive business climate. Studies have shown that learning retention is directly related to immediate and ongoing reinforcement. This is done by putting the skills to work in a simulated, role-playing environment. If that environment occurs online, using challenge videos, webcam responses, and inline comments and questions, then sales enablers can extend their coaching role, and empower their salespeople to sell better.