It’s Time to Fix Training and Learning: Innovative Modus Customers Are up to the Challenge
by Robin Tinker, on Sep, 22, 2020
At Modus, the best innovative ideas win, and when it came up to us through customers, partners, and good old fashioned practicality, it was unanimously determined we would add a just-in-time learning tool to our Sales Hub. We wanted to enable sales reps to access training materials from the apps they already used to sell. We started this journey looking to solve some pretty specific problems that we knew our customers and companies like them had in sales training.
As we dug in, we learned some key facts that helped us know where to focus and find gaps to fill in the sweet spot where processes meet technology. As the tool has evolved, it seems those initial specs did ring true. And as it’s been implemented, it reminds me how impressively innovative our customers are, and I can’t wait to see what other great ideas they come up with.
No matter the industry, the metrics are similar and it’s impossible to ignore if you want to keep your sales numbers up.
Retention is Fleeting
Study after study proves that sales reps forget much more than they retain after training. Up to 84% is forgotten after 30 days according to the National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP). That disconnect is staggering when you think of not just the budget consequences, but also time and effort. The lack of effectiveness of the materials created and the time wasted on them adds up. Creating content, teaching it to reps, and reps taking time from selling to learn wastes a ton of time and effort and for less than 20% retention. It was so obvious that people will want better, and we wanted to build it.
Easy Access to Materials is Far from the Norm
After countless conversations with customers about their Learning Management Systems, I can promise you “I love my LMS” is NOT the general consensus… in fact it’s not hardly even the exception. They are often large, under-audited, and clunky systems built more for the training creator’s needs than the learner’s. Allowing so much information means that it just becomes too much noise, and expecting sales reps to login to find a few key points needed before a sales call is unrealistic and quite unlikely.
Formal Training Continues to Fall Short
Again, according to the NASP, Sales reps receive an average of 31.5 hours of training per year and 63% of them want more. Reps are the front line passing your product and brand information directly to the customer and they are saying they don’t have the knowledge they need to be effective. If you break this down and think about individual sales conversations, the number of times a customer asks something that should in theory be easily answerable by the rep, but is not, would probably make us all cringe… And is certainly costing sales repeatedly. Perhaps the new product features on slide sixty seven from the third day of the national sales meeting were very important to that customer, but your rep had already retained the 16% of the training they were going to, so it was lost. (Okay that’s a little bit of a dramatic oversimplification but it’s definitely still happening on some level quite often.)
Overall, what we learned early on, and what we see continuing to ring true is that currently most sales training is ineffective. Sales reps, sales leaders, and organizational leaders all agree that it’s certainly not working well enough as is… Interestingly, this is occurring on both sides of the training process, those providing the training and those consuming it.
- 26% of sales reps say their sales training is not effective
- Only 32% of firms describe their current sales training programs as effective
- And 42% of sales leaders say training only moderately helps to meet sales goals
Training Effectiveness as a way to Beat the Competition
The lack of training success is staggering when you think of how many organizations are facing these same challenges. What if you could beat these odds and actually make your reps more knowledgeable? It’s not easy to fix training, but it kept looking more and more like closing this gap was the most permanent and effective way to improve sales results. Because it’s not a super direct correlation, we were again grateful to our customers who provided feedback about their training challenges along the way.
With all of these training effectiveness possibilities and potential sales benefits I couldn’t wait to see what customers would do! And I have not been disappointed… from fresh minds reimagining corporate training programs to sales reps sharing their best pitches, Modus Sales Hub customers have nailed it.
Retention is Exceptionally Crucial for Technical Sales
Like many large med device companies, one specific Modus Sales Hub customer was ready to move away from their old training tool, and overhaul their product training program to be more effective. They choose Microleaning because their products demand that reps be knowledge. They are focusing the first phase of their rollout on retention, and relying heavily on short quizzes to reinforce key knowledge. The reporting section of the tool has been especially helpful as they see who completes quizzes and courses and how many times. We’ve gotten some great feedback from their needs and requests that have informed additional features on our development roadmap.
Retention is so important in other industries with highly detailed products as well. Another seasoned Modus Sales Hub user in the industrial automation space added Microlearning to their existing applications for both their core product training and their marketing messaging on product launches. The corporate trainer is fairly new in his role, and is loving the chance to overhaul the program for the shorter attention spans of the modern sales rep. The on demand aspect of it also fits well for his reps’ busy days and need for technical details in the moment.
Gamification for the Win
It’s hard to gather data on intangibles like distraction and intent to pay attention when we talk about knowledge retention from training. Getting that engagement is key, and no matter why it might be lacking, another Modus customer is banking on the gamification as key to getting it back. The idea that you can win at product knowledge is only happily compounded by the fact that it will also increase sales. Knowing their long standing distributors well, they knew their competitive nature would make it much harder to ignore the material. They’re also planning to bridge competition with collaboration in the future with the ability for reps to share video pitches with each other in a feed similar to a social media site.
Like all sales and marketing functions in 2020 training has also gone even more digital and mobile. Although the reasons for this are less than optimum, I’m excited to see the innovations that come as more and more Modus customers innovate with Microlearning.