Have you felt that nagging doubt?

You do your best to develop your workforce to the fullest.

But sometimes sales training seems like a different animal.

After all, it takes a special kind of individual to succeed in sales. Not to mention many sales teams are dispersed over a large area.

Hence that troubling thought in the back of your mind: “There must be a better way to do sales training.

And there is.

There is a way to promote strong sales skills that works.  In fact, it's easier than you think to deliver effective, engaging and scalable sales training. But you know what?

First you have to understand...

Why training sales is different

Sure, you’re responsible for your organization's learning team.

But salespeople need professional development and learning opportunities tailored especially for them. They need your help gaining the knowledge, skills, and attributes necessary to excel at their jobs.

According to sales expert Harvey Mackay, “Too often, sales reps simply regurgitate their presentations and expect to land the sale. It doesn't work.” That’s because reps need to be valuable advisers to their customers. Part of doing that involves sales reps learning and practicing how they deliver their message. This job-specific training is a critical component of learning and development for sales reps.

L&D within a sales context is specific. To be effective, L&D should involve both initial and ongoing training. Training should apply to sales reps’ selling situation. That will help generate buy-in and adoption from the sales force.

Sales is critical and is a major driver of company revenues. It’s good business sense to use learning modalities that help salespeople perform better.

How video adds value to sales training

Why is video learning so effective? And why is it becoming more popular in corporate learning? There are a few reasons.

Video can offer:

  • increased comprehension and retention of learning content
  • reinforcement of the message
  • an experiential process that reduces the gap between theory and practice
  • time and location flexibility
  • self-directed and self-paced learning.

With the rise of YouTube, Vimeo, and other video streaming services, your sales reps are already used to using video. This may make them feel more comfortable using video than other learning technologies and modalities.

Not all learning modalities are created equal

Everyone wants better training. Agreed?

But what is better? If you're using the Kirkpatrick model to judge your learning and development program, that means you want salespeople to:

  • react favorably to the training;
  • acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitudes, confidence and commitment based on their participation in a training event;
  • apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job;
  • and see targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training event and subsequent reinforcement.

Video learning can help you achieve these outcomes. According to a study conducted by Cisco predicts that IP video traffic will constitute 79% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2018, a significant increase from 66% in 2013.

Here are a few ways your company can improve sales performance using video.

Promote behavior change with video

When it comes to looking at how you teach skills for sales, The Kirkpatrick Model can be useful.

For example, the model helps establish a common language. It also gives you an idea of what kind of training outcomes you should see at various stages of your organization’s learning program.

In a recent analysis of the U.S. training market, Bersin found that mature L&D organizations (those at Levels 3 and 4 of the maturity model) “invest more in leadership development and function-specific training, such as sales and customer service training.”

How does video learning play into that?

For starters, video can help bridge the gap from Level 1 and Level 2 to behavior change. Closing that gap can help you justify your training and development budget and prove the results of all your hard work.

Let’s look at how video learning fits into the four levels of the Kirkpatrick Model.


image credit: Kirkpatrick Partners, LLC.

Reaction--Level 1 is about how participants react to the training. When you use video, you can deliver training to your sales reps anytime and anywhere. According to the Best Practices for Visual Learning white paper, 77% of users currently watch video from their mobile device. By 2018, 87% of users will watch video from their mobile device. Technology is driving the mobile learning trend but so are users who like the convenience. Video learning offers sales reps bite sized learning ‘nuggets’ right when they need it instead of spending days in a classroom.

Learning--Do your training participants get the intended knowledge, skills, and confidence due to a training event? This is the essence of Level 2. Research has proved video learning helps people digest more information in a shorter amount of time. According to a recent study conducted by The Research Institute of America, e-Learning has the power to increase information retention rates by up to 60%.  Visual media is linked to greater knowledge retention.

Behavior--At the end of the day, your end game is having salespeople apply what they learn during training when they are back on the job. Video helps do this by refreshing and reinforcing prior learning. According to a study conducted by Turin University, "various observational studies have demonstrated that the use of video streaming contributes to learning as a powerful instrument for education and for the acquisition of clinical competencies, reducing the gap between theory and practice." Not to mention training may make your sales reps more productive. An IBM report found companies who use e-Learning tools can boost productivity by up to 50%. For every $1 the company spends, they can receive an estimated $30 worth of productivity.

Results--Level 4 is about determining whether targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training event. Because it doesn’t matter how great your training is if it doesn’t help drive business results. The Turin University study’s aim was to measure the effectiveness of an educational video as a tool to reinforce the learning of a nursing technique. The results of the study showed students who had seen the video were better able to apply the technique. This resulted in a better performance. Plus, using video can result in cost and time savings associated with learning delivery. Getting sales reps educated and back in the field selling--using what they’ve learned--can have a significant impact on whether training results in measurable performance improvement.

The bottom line: If you’re focusing on performance as your training outcome, you should consider using more video.

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(image credit: Anthony Sills)

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