This article continues our series on spaced learning within the context of sales training. As it turns out, one very effective way to apply spaced learning in your sales training is to use games. Other articles in our spaced learning series are:
- Why Spaced Learning is Important in Sales
- Spaced Learning Results from Real Companies
- How to Apply Spaced Learning in Your Sales Training
- Using Gamification to Support Spaced Learning in Sales
We have all seen the person at the sales training who is not paying attention to the instructor and has no idea what is going on. They are daydreaming about anything except the training session. We watch as they try to stay focused, but continue to nod off as the instructor drones on about the new company policy for sales.
If you are honest, you might have even been that person once or twice. There has to be a better way to disseminate knowledge without having to sit through long training sessions.
Fortunately, there is a better way to train the sales force in a way that is engaging.
Playing games is the solution to the problem.
Games Are A Serious Business
Digital games are everywhere. We play them on consoles, computers, phones, and tablets. Game invitations are sent out (by friends we barely know through social media) for us to join in on the action.
Competition is fierce, levels are beat, and achievements are shared. There are even gift cards you can get for in-game purchases.
All this for a pixelated award that can be posted to social media as a badge of honor.
Players are drawn to the soft glow of a computer screen like a moth to the flame. If people are going to play games, L&D departments might as well use games for training purposes.
The Power Of Social Gaming
Gaming is an individual activity that is shared socially. It is this social sharing that is one of the strong allures to keep playing the game. "If L&D pros could harness the power of social gaming in their current efforts, the results could be of pretty epic proportions.", explains Tobes Kelly in his article about social gamification. Here are some ways social games keep the player engaged.
- Competition. Igniting the fire of competition is a tried-and-true method of motivation for most (if not all) learners. The ability to share scores or check leaderboards online lets your learners know exactly where they stand, pushing them to achieve more.
- Tangible achievement. Some learners need more than just the satisfaction of a job well done to motivate action. Awarding badges for completion and mastery could make all the difference.
- Group sharing and collaboration. Imagine a learner gets stuck on a specific quiz question. She might give up and disengage from the module, but imagine if she had the capacity to use tokens or points toward asking a group of co-learners for their input. Social tools make collaboration simpler, creating a symbiotic relationship between the learner who needs help and the learner who wants to demonstrate his knowledge base.
- Litmus testing for knowledge. Social gaming is the ultimate litmus test for where each learner falls in the pack. Sizing up proficiency against other coworkers helps each learner understand his or her strengths and weaknesses in correlation to colleagues and other "players."
- Feedback looping. Don't forget that social gaming also offers benefits for leadership and management. Scores, leaderboards, and badges are simple ways for management to see real-time feedback in the form of proficiency and engagement. Issuing feedback and pointers then becomes more efficient and personalized, based on the learner's actual performance.
Games Are A Perfect Fit For Sales Reps
There are multiple game platforms to choose from. Knowledge Guru is one of many that helps sales reps with product knowledge. In his blog on theknoledgeguru.com, Steven Boller gives five great reasons that games and sales reps are a perfect fit.
- Games can prevent the need to "cram" new product knowledge - By using spaced learning, sales reps learn through repetition and are able to retain more information.
- Games can create a little healthy competition... and camaraderie - Sales reps are competitive by nature, that is what makes them good at sales. Capitalize on this skill and make a game out of learning.
- Games can help reps retain and apply new product info - Games will give sales reps the knowledge the need to succeed without trying to drink from the fire hose of information.
- Games can provide meaningful reporting and analytics - It is difficult to know if training is working without data. Games give feedback and results without sales reps having to fill out an evaluation form.
- Games can provide highly contextual scenarios to practice consultative selling - This gives sales reps the opportunity to practice their higher-level skills.
Do Not Overplay the Game
Gamification is a fresh approach to sales training. It incorporates social gaming with spaced learning.
Although games are a great tool to use in training, keep in mind that they are one of many tools to be used. As the leader in charge of L&D, it is your responsibility to choose the best tool for the job.
For more information, read Karl Kapp's article What Every Chief Learning Officer Needs to Know about Games and Gamification for Learning.
There are various technologies that support sales effectiveness. Some are discussed in the webinar transcript below from a recent video we discovered. It's a long and ardous read, but there are some good sales tips.
Gamification in Sales Training
Male: The next speaker today is Elay Cohen. Elay is the co-founder and author of SalesHood, a software service platform and community for sales professionals. Elay was the senior vice president of Sales Productivity at SalesForce.com. He led the teams that executed sales training, onboarding and deal support for thousands of salespeople. He was recognized as the company's 2011 top executive and he created the partner relationship management category. He currently lives with his family in San Francisco. He's a big fan of photography, rollerblading and cooking and amazingly, he's been known to do all three simultaneously. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Elay Cohen.
Elay: Well, hello. My name's Elay Cohen. I'm the co-founder of SalesHood. I'm here to talk about a topic that is top-of-mind for every executive on the planet, getting teams up to speed faster specifically getting sales teams to ramp faster and keep them up to speed in an efficient way. That's what we're going to talk about today. You know a little bit about my background. I worked at SalesForce.com for almost eight years, the senior vice president of Sales Productivity so what does that mean? It means that my team and I, we onboard thousands of reps every year. I mean the last time we did the tally, it was about 7500 reps. Think about that. The boot camps, the coaching, the certifications, it was a machine. I also wrote a book called SalesHood and upon reflection of my time at SalesForce.com and writing the book, I got to explore the depth of some of the secrets of success. And the question I wanted to answer was how do you get reps up to speed faster? I wanted to answer this question for every executive on the planet, every CEO, every CRO, every CMO. I wanted to be able to answer the question, how do you onboard your reps faster? How do you develop a culture with ongoing team development so you can launch products faster? You can scale how you go to market faster. How do you drive execution so you can close more deals faster? Faster, faster, faster speed. That's what this is all about and if you take a step back and ask yourself, "How does this happen today?" When Bennyhoff would say to me, "Hey, Elay, we want you to roll out a new sales cloud certification for the thousands of sales reps on the planet." We have to do it with some of the old school kind of ways.
A few years back, those of you that are watching that are part of [inaudible 00:18:05] fly around the planet and certify people one at a time. Think of the inefficiency. Think of the cost. Think of the time. It took us about 90 days, 120 days which by the way is pretty fast, but to finally get around the planet and get everyone done and that was how we were driving consistency but we did it and that's just not scalable. Think about how folks are doing it today. Maybe you're having your sales teams take their pitches that they have and maybe they're uploading it to some central repository collecting internet dust. That's not a great way either. And then another way that we're seeing people do it is having their manager certify. In either way, when you're trying to get your reps a message, when you're trying to train your reps and either you're flying them around or you're flying around, not efficient, not scalable, very limited retention or maybe you're having people record a long pitch that no one ever really looks at or you have the managers do it, in these scenarios which are very, very common and common in the dark ages a little bit, what you're really losing is the ability for salespeople to learn from each other. Salespeople like to talk about their wins. Salespeople like to talk about their experiences. Salespeople like to hear other salespeople talk about their experiences. I know that when I hear a peer close a deal, I'm taking notes. I'm writing down why they closed that deal and that's got a proven ROI and the ROI isn't just about storytelling. The ROI is also about the efficiency.
We also know that peer-to-peer as a best practice for getting sales teams to be up to speed is also supported by the idea of accountability. Every salesperson is going to share their experiences, share their pitch, share their best discovery questions, share their deal wins and you know what? Everyone's going to do it and everyone's going to be in it together. The transparency and accountability that is amazing. It's a lot different than flying around or having a manager get the reps a message. Think about what happens and I've seen it and I know a lot of you, managers, do this and I love you all but when you're certifying your reps, here's how it goes down. You'll do the first one and maybe two or three slides in, "Oh, yeah, yeah. You got it," or maybe you'll take everyone in the room or everyone in the call and everybody does one slide. That doesn't help anyone. What you really want to do is you want to have every sales rep record their best pitch or get their best pitch from a real live session and then finally, engagement. So we're talking about why peer-to-peer? Proven ROI, better accountability, more accountability but here's where it goes off the charts is the engagement. The reps have a hunger to learn. The reps have a hunger to see each other's presentation and here's how I know this. We've run a whole bunch of peer-to-peer learning programs, best practice sharing programs, team collaboration programs, certification programs with a number of companies on the planet. Inside Sales is one of them.
I had a rep walk up to me at a conference and say, "You know what's amazing about this peer-to-peer idea? The amazing thing is I was able to start at my job and log in and see all of the pitches. I watched about 200 pitches in the first day and then I sat down and I wrote down my pitch and then I recorded my pitch and I got feedback from my peers," and this rep told me that in one week, they were able to get their pitch down and get ramped up and that is astounding 'cause I said in my last job, it took me 90 days. So with video, with mobile, with benchmarks so you can see how you're doing relative to your peers, really key aspect to tap into that energy for sales, professionalism and for sales competence but the other one is gamification. So the idea of seeing how you rank, how you score, how do you stand? That is a concept that is really tapping into the child instincts of all of us. Who doesn't to be the top of the leaderboard? Not just for performance but also for competence, for accomplishments and also based on peer reviews. So if I record a pitch, I want to make sure that my pitch is the best it can be and I am going to make sure it's the best it can be when I know all my peers are watching and they're scoring me. So now that we've talked about peer-to-peer and the philosophical benefits of peer-to-peer and the ROI benefits and we delved into the technical, why technically it's available today to us at scale, video, mobile, gamification, benchmarks, big data, we can do it today. Now let's talk about what it means and where you can apply it to your businesses. So I'm going to talk about four areas.
Number one, onboarding. Number two, ongoing team development. Number three, we're going to talk about product launches and number four, we're going to talk about sales execution. So again, peer-to-peer, getting reps up to speed faster. If you want the secret sauce, how to get reps to onboard faster, here's your secret. I want you to think about all of the firsts. First call, first elevator pitch, first customer presentation, first email, first customer call, first demo, first quote, first proposal. If you can document all those firsts and then get the best of the best to record those firsts and make those firsts available to the general populations of your sales professionals and then get everybody in your organization in your sales teams to record their firsts and then make that become part of the culture, oh boy. You're going to get your reps up to speed faster because they're going to see the best of the best and they're going to very quickly want to get through that journey, get through accomplishing those milestones of recording their firsts because they want the reps to give them feedback. Because you know what? I want to hit quota faster so I'm going to go look for those presentations that exist. I'm going to go look for those videos for the firsts and you know what? Don't put them all at the beginning. Don't expect your sales reps to have to record all those firsts in that first week of boot camp. Plan it out. Give them a 30, 60, 90-day program and make it fit the flow of your go-to market in your business. So that's onboarding. That's how you can leverage peer-to-peer to accelerate to really get your reps to ramp faster.
All right, now that we've talked about ramping faster and onboarding, now let's talk about ongoing team development, how you can apply peer-to-peer principles to this key part of your business. The recommendation or the suggestion is think about deal wins, loss reviews. Think about deal reviews. Think about your weekly huddles and those weekly team meetings. Institutionalize into the culture the idea that you want every sales professional and every team sharing their experiences, scoring each other on their deals and an effective team meeting is a meeting that really has at the essence of it because the sales world, sales professionals want to learn from each other. They want to share best practices, has peer-to-peer at the essences of it. So there's a structured meeting with a structured topic whether you're doing deal wins or loss reviews but you're instituting the basic principles of sales reps giving each other feedback and scoring each other. You can learn so much about what's happening in your deals by tapping into the energy of the sales reps giving each other feedback on key things like deal wins and on their pitches in the weekly team meetings. Now let's talk about launching products. The idea of launching products is so critical to the success of an organization. Time to market, getting products launched quickly. How do we do it? We distribute content to the sales teams. We enable them to role play around product pitches, objection handling. Think about that for a second. Why not provide sales teams the ability to handle objection together as a team? Score each other on their objections in real time not after loss has happened, not after deals get pushed. Do it in real time.
We want to roll out product playbooks so sales teams can consume them in their weekly team meetings. So bring peer-to-peer to life not just for boot camps and for onboarding, not just for the ongoing team development for deal wins but also for your product launches. And now finally, let's dive into sales execution and let's talk about how you can scale your sales process. Remember the ROI here is all about closing more deals faster. Here's a secret. Take your sales process. Break it down into small chunks. Think about all those customer conversations. Record them. Get your sales reps. Get your sales teams to practice them in their team meetings. Do contest so that way they can score each other on those bite-sized, chunk conversations. Don't think of certification as a one-time event. Think of certification as an ongoing challenge that you provide your organization. You should be running a monthly challenge around a key messaging tool that you want to enable your sales professionals. Elevator pitch, first call presentation, discovery, solution recommendation, these are conversations that your sales teams are having, that your sales teams can learn from each other if they practiced those conversations and shared their best practices and hear each other pitch.
Before I wrap up, I want to leave you with a question. Are you ready? What impact will peer-to-peer have on your bottom-line? Are you going to see a 50% improvement in ramp time? What will happen to your bottomline if you can do that? That's material. Are you going to see sales cycles drop by 30% to 40% by embracing peer-to-peer? Why not? Here's what you got to think about to gauge whether you're ready. Number one, are you ready to lead by example? What I mean by that is here's the perfect sniff test. If your chief sales officer is willing and ready to grab their phone and shoot the pitch right then and there, then you're ready. If marketing has a seat at the table, then you're ready. If they're part of the conversation, if they're packaging up the content the way you need it, if they're part of your go-to market, if they embrace peer-to-peer as well not just as a way to distribute content but also as a way to crowdsource content, then you're ready. If your culture is such that constructed criticism is the way that you're providing feedback rather than bashing, then you're ready. If learning is a big part of how you go to market and a big part of your values, then you're ready. Every moment is a learning moment. Look at your values. Is learning a part of your values? Do you want to be better? And then finally, do you have vision? Do you have a big vision for this world of your sales teams and your customer facing employees sharing best practices on an ongoing basis? Are you ready for that vision? We're excited to be a part of the Inside Sales family and to be a partner with Inside Sales and we're grateful for the opportunity to be here to share the benefits of peer-to-peer and how you're going to get reps up to speed faster. If you're interested in diving in and exploring more, you can request access to the SalesHood platform or go get my book and read more about it or reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you very much for this session.