Developing eLearning resources for sales teams is a unique proposition. There is a huge scope for creative use of simulation, stories, scenarios and interactive elements. Online forums are full of suggestions to improve your sales online training. But there is an area of focus that is more important than the rest: problem-solving. Sales can be an isolating role. It’s widely accepted that decision-making is greatly improved by incorporating a diverse group. However, this is a luxury salespeople don’t have. For example, on-the-spot decisions are a daily challenge. But, problem-based scenarios give sales learners the opportunity to try out their decision-making skills in a safe way.
Problem-Based Learning: Hands-On Learning
Real-word scenarios are key elements of problem-based learning. Training involves open-ended challenges. The employee is given the opportunity to test out their capabilities, learn more and come back with a different approach. For example, problem-based learning in academic settings is often a group activity. This can be replicated in corporate online training using collaboration tools and carefully designed challenges. Problem-based scenarios are particularly beneficial for sales teams who work in a highly pressured, time-sensitive, and results-driven environment. These are the perfect foundations for mistakes and undesired behaviors. These employees need practical sales online training that they can apply the next day on the job. Employees who carry out problem-based scenarios in online training:
- Develop critical thinking and creative skills
- Gain improved problem-solving skills
- Experience an increase in motivation
- Are able to easily transfer knowledge to real-world situations
- Experience success and failure in a safe way
Adding Problem-Based Scenarios To Your Sales Online Training
Sales online training will always incorporate interactive elements, that is if you are doing a good job designing training for your employees. It isn’t a stretch to focus on problem-based scenarios, it’s just a shift in the mindset. Instead of demonstrating different situations, you’ll need to put the learner in the driver’s seat. Challenge them to make the decisions and see what happens.
1. Develop Team Challenges
All of the above benefits are greatly enhanced if problem-based scenarios are done as a group. Sales employees often work in isolation. Make training a collaborative activity to give them even more benefits. You will also increase social learning and engagement if it’s a group activity. Incorporating group challenges is even more powerful in broadening the sales online training experience. For example, assign a work-related obstacle, such as a disgruntled customer who is reluctant to purchase, then ask them to develop a presentation. It should feature tips on how to navigate the issue and land the sale.
2. Boost Learner Confidence By Challenging Analytical Skills
Give sales employees scenarios that test their ability to analyze what has happened and what could be improved. Increased analytical capabilities are an important factor in the confidence of a sales learner in making the right choice. For example, use simulations that allow them to identify areas for improvement by making mistakes and experiencing the negative repercussions.
3. Ask Them To Identify What Is Missing In A Process
Work through a scenario in which an important step in the sales process is missed. Then ask the online learner to identify what went wrong. Have them explain why, what the consequence was and what should have happened instead. This will provide a practical test of the learner’s understanding of the process. It will also give them confidence on how to handle the situation if were to happen in real life. If they forget something, they have experience in making it right.
4. Train Customer Queries Using Problem-Based Scenarios
Help a sales learner deal with complex or unexpected customer queries. Create a scenario where a customer is asking questions and the sales learner needs to provide the right response at each step. Start easy and build up to more difficult questions. Use real-life examples to put everything into context and enhance the immersion.
5. Use Branching Scenarios To Promote Critical Thinking
Provide a positive and a negative consequence to each decision the online learner makes in a scenario based on closing a sale. This will provide opportunities to test decisions, as well as gather feedback along the way. They can also retrace their steps to see where they went wrong and how they can address the issue head-on. For instance, there may be a skill they need to sharpen in order to provide better service or improve their task performance.
6. Create Topical Podcasts
Another great way to incorporate problem-based scenarios into your online sales training is podcasts. These audio scenarios give sales employees helpful tips they can apply on the job. It also exposes them to new work-related challenges. You can even invite employees to act out the scene to make it more realistic and immersive. Also, try adding sound effects and background music to boost the production value. Or hire a professional voice actor if there’s room in your online training budget.
Sales teams are often the most time-poor learners in the organization. They may have a different set of devices from other employees, so they may not access resources in the same way. You’ll need to test your sales online training carefully to ensure it is truly responsive in any environment.
That aside, sales staff also have less downtime. Life is a series of appointments and catching up with orders and emails. Training, therefore, must be targeted. It must be actionable. And it must be practical. If online training developers get it right, then new skills acquired in the training will be on display the next day. It’s essential that sales online learners get the opportunity to test out their newly acquired skills. Problem-based scenarios offer that opportunity in a safe and valuable way and can have a lasting impact on learner engagement and motivation.