When it comes to sales training, a concern that sales professionals cite routinely is the timeliness, relevance and context of what they learn. This is a fair assessment of the industry in my opinion as many training programs haven’t changed curriculum for years. The changes that have occurred are minor and don’t do justice by the learner from a context perspective.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION
In an effort to scale and keep efficiencies, concepts are taught at a high-level. This way, the overarching goals and theories remain the same. And after all, this is one of the hallmarks of a battle-tested training program.
There are classic sales training programs that sales professionals in the 1990’s have taken that have remained largely intact. This speaks to the program’s effectiveness in finding commonality across times.
The creators of these programs often rely on variables that are unlikely to change in the long-term. For example, when teaching how to map solutions to buyer behavior, human behavior is at the core of it. From an evolutionary perspective, human behavior hasn’t changed much in thousands of years. We are still very much wired like our early ancestors.
The pace at which the world moved (pre-internet era) was the result of (I’d argue) access to information. Buyers had fewer and slower access points to information. We as sales professionals were simply one of them.
It was with this mindset that most sales training was done.
But, here’s the challenge; most sales training is still being conceived and created like this.
THE CHALLENGE WITH SOCIAL SELLING
Most of us know about social selling now and even if we don’t, we might have a LinkedIn or Twitter profile. We may have even heard how buyers are bringing their online searching habits into the workplace – this shouldn’t surprise anyone.
In mid-to-large organizations today, social selling training is on the minds of many Training and Sales Enablement teams.
When it comes to social selling, however, this approach to train in broad, high-level strokes is wholly insufficient and unproductive.
The reason is the dynamic nature of the digital era, how you sold 10 years ago isn’t how you’re going to sell today and how you’re selling today isn’t necessarily going to be the way you sell in 5 years. With access to information and networking capabilities, today’s buyer is now firmly in control of the buying process. According to Salesforce, 71% of salespeople believe that their role will be radically different in 5 years and 69% of sales executives believe that the buying process is changing faster than organizations are responding to it.
Despite this fact, we are still training sales professionals with programs that do not acknowledge this shift. Sure, there are social selling programs out there – and perhaps you’ll create one yourself – but are they dynamic enough to stay current with the times?
If LinkedIn changes, or Twitter adds a feature, this may present vastly different learning opportunities.
It’s challenging to think about this but as Learning & Development and Enablement professionals, this is a reality that must be addressed early on. The inability to change curriculum and keep it fresh will ultimately affect your sales team’s ability to learn, retain and be open to ongoing reinforcement.
THE BOTTOM LINE
One reality I’ve come to accept in the sales training world is this notion of false choice.
It’s important to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of each training approach. While teaching high-level concepts and theories is necessary, it’s also necessary to be mindful of the need for dynamic curriculum for social selling training.
Both approaches are correct – both are legitimate. Will this require more work on your part when it comes to building a social selling program? Let’s not sugar coat this; it absolutely will. However, the ability to deliver dynamic and current social selling training will ultimately impact what matters: the number!