Creative Sales Training Addresses Business Needs
As learning professionals, we want to create the best, most impactful experience for our learners and organizations. Our client, a global brand, wanted to create that (and more) for their sales training.
While the global organization experienced challenges in achieving their ambitious learning goals, they knew that anything is achievable with the right foundation and a winning team! We partnered with them and fellow solution providers and thought leaders in a collaboration to design a creative, thoughtful, multitiered solution. The training also addressed a major business need and kept learners engaged.
The sales training was a win-win both for learners, who loved the experience and applied the learning, as well as for those who created the learning. A major victory indeed.
Interested in a behind-the-scenes peek at the creation of this blended journey for an international sales team? Before we jump into the solution, let’s explore the business need that inspired the learning journey.
“Show Me The Business Need!”
When training builds skills in employees that align with the organization’s business needs, it doesn’t get any better than that! L&D’s impact on business is a major reason that our industry has grown into a major organizational stakeholder with a “seat at the table,” as confirmed by industry trends over the last few years.
The business need in question for our client? Addressing evolving buyer trends. Our client noticed there were inconsistencies in online shopping and the way their products were being marketed on partner sites. Upon further analysis, they discovered a gap in their wholesale sales reps’ knowledge about eCommerce: a critical skill for this team of sales professionals. And with the popularity of online shopping skyrocketing over the last several years, that’s a major business need!
Salespeople aren’t eCommerce experts, but our client needed them to think and act like experts. So, they decided to train 2000 global sales team members and upskill them on eCommerce.
Challenges And Questions
How, with limited resources and time, do you create a curriculum that meets the needs of the business and the learners? As a learning professional, you may have asked yourself this question a time or two (or three or four). This client knew they had to balance their project’s constraints—the usual suspects: time, cost, scope—wisely.
Should they buy, build, or blend the learning solution? Our client chose “yes” to all three of these options and created a solution that combined them all together.
There were challenges and more questions, naturally. Specifically, how do you capture the attention of the hard-to-reach learner audience of busy salespeople? How do you upskill specialists within a field outside of their expertise in an agile way? How do you maximize the budget?
The end result is a carefully curated blend of off-the-shelf learning with custom content and internally developed resources (including performance support tools, coaching, and social learning). The entire sales training blends more than 50 pieces of content across 11 different topics.
Three Levels Of Sales Training
Good things come in threes (stooges, tricycle wheels, wise men, and so on). This sales training journey was also divided into three levels (or curricula). It targeted knowledge first, performance second, and application third.
In Level 1 of the training, learners developed their core skills before moving on to Level 2, where they discovered the strategies and tools that help get them sales results. In Level 3, learners applied what they learned by planning and then integrating digital commerce strategies within their own sales accounts.
The training was easy to navigate and access—always a plus. Learners could choose to follow the entire journey from the beginning or take only the modules they need. It was not only an engaging and visually compelling journey, but also a performance-driven sales training experience.
Level 1: Knowledge (Developing Core Skills)
Learning objective: To develop core knowledge, learners explore digital commerce concepts and theories.
Designed for complete beginners to eCommerce, the curriculum introduced learners to the core concepts they needed to build competency and skill. In a fully virtual on-demand experience, learners orient themselves to the modules’ content by watching short introduction videos presented by key members of the business and leadership teams, who welcome and guide learners.
Learners then dove into the lessons, including courses with skills vetted by the client’s internal Subject Matter Experts on eCommerce. Most of the content was foundational and off-the-shelf in addition to one custom lesson. The custom content then translated the terms and vocabulary to show learners how the concepts show up in their organization.
Level 2: Performance (Discover Strategies And Tools)
Learning objective: Shifting to performance, learners discover the tools and strategies that help them drive growth.
With a solid grounding in the theory and concepts, learners then added to their foundation of knowledge with performance skills. This level taught learners the eCommerce strategies and tools they can apply to drive sustainable growth with their online digital partners.
Learners received a toolkit they can return to as they identify opportunities to drive growth. The asynchronous learning experience blended off-the-shelf content with custom lessons, self-reflection and discussion guides, action plans, and performance support tools.
Grounded in creative storytelling, the lessons enabled learners to step into their customers’ shoes. Vibrant, on-brand, animated illustrations heightened learner engagement. Most importantly, learners discovered the barriers consumers face and which eCommerce tools and strategies help improve the customers’ experience and drive sales. Learners then identified opportunities to improve the online shopping experience. Each lesson ends with a call to action—a series of reflection questions and prompts designed to transition the learning from theory into practice.
Level 3: Application (Planning And Integration)
Learning objective: Focusing on application, learners are able to plan and integrate eCommerce strategies to influence future business.
The final chapter in this sales training saga is a completely different learning experience from Levels 1 and 2. The experience concluded with learners embracing future-proofing skills for their organization.
The final level required registration and commitment from learners to complete the content within an eight-week timeframe. Once registered, learners completed an orientation before moving on to the coursework: six modules that they completed on a weekly basis.
Blending asynchronous digital learning with weekly coaching sessions, the curriculum also included social learning. It provided learners with real-time feedback and coaching as well as a community they can reach out to for support. Learners applied everything they learned throughout the entire learning journey to pass Level 3 and complete the training.
But What About The Results?
To ensure adoption, leaders in the organization took the pilot training and advocated for it to others in their company. And they didn’t just advocate the program for its educational value—they also championed the experience itself. Participants in the program shared the importance of creating intentional engagement plans to gain alignment with managers and leaders.
As shown by pre- and post-assessment results, learners increased confidence, knowledge, and abilities. Knowledge transfer also increased significantly in every module.
Creative juices were flowing and ideas took flight as a result of the social learning component that promoted collaboration and innovation. Several of the learners’ ideas and suggestions are now being considered for implementation within the rest of the Global Sales organization!
What Do Learners Have To Say?
“Not only will this course strengthen our relationships with key digital wholesale partners globally, but it will also act as the ignition point to build the most digitally impactful sales team! The biggest takeaway for me was to have a consumer-obsessed mindset.”
“The Rolls Royce of courses—(it’s) truly been (a) ‘game-changing’ experience.”
— Program graduates
Lessons Learned: What Can You Implement Right Now?
1. Don’t Be Scared Of Blending Off-The-Shelf Learning Solutions
There’s no prize for recreating the wheel when it comes to knowledge that doesn’t require individualization. For fields like eCommerce, there are universal concepts and strategies. That’s where off-the-shelf learning solutions can play a helpful role in creating your next learning journey. The lesson here is to curate when you can and use the existing resources available to you…no need to be a hero!
And yes, even we (as a custom eLearning provider) can admit that creating custom eLearning is not always the answer. It depends on the circumstances.
2. Create Custom Learning Solutions When Needed
Don’t create eLearning just to create it, but rather when there’s no existing content that can deliver that specific, nuanced knowledge or skill. Custom eLearning comes in handy for things like explaining an organization’s unique way of applying concepts.
Our client’s custom eLearning in Level 2 of their sales training took the eCommerce concepts established in Level 1 and connected the dots for learners. It showed them how it impacts their role.
3. Meet Learners Where They Are
Design your learning with options for your learners. Multitiered training addresses different learner needs with each level. Not every learner takes every level.
In our client’s training, only certain learners completed all three parts. Each level of training builds on the previous one so that learners could take the pieces that pertain to their individual needs, saving time for busy sales professionals to focus on their day jobs.
4. Integrate The Training Within Your Organization
Encourage learners to share their experience with others and show that the learning journey is important. Word of mouth spreads quickly in an organization. Find actionable ways (such as engagement plans) to hold both leaders and learners accountable for making the learning journey a success. Engagement plans can take the form of a simple conversation or something more formal, such as the company’s performance development management tool. This holds both the manager and the learner accountable, as the global brand discovered.
This transformative sales training experience developed a winning mindset for learners, focused on overcoming obstacles through performance and application. Not only was this blended experience enjoyable and invigorating for learners, it demonstrated how integral Learning and Development is to the business function.
We’re really doing it, L&D! We’ve moved beyond “checking the box” and are revolutionizing the way business is done. We’re solving problems by resolving gaps in knowledge and performance. We’re giving learners the ability to apply, practice, and excel in their roles. And we’re empowering learners with the autonomy to carve their own paths.
Keep up the good work and remember, when you apply the lessons from this sales training case study in your next learning journey, you too can create training that’s a slam dunk!
Our job is to help you achieve your objectives and be successful. Engage us at any point, from analysis to custom development (including e-learning, mobile, gamification, and ILT) to evaluation.
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