The Just-In-Time Training Revolution

Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy and Research Officer, Corporate Visions

When it comes to enabling salespeople to be great “in the moment” across the different types of selling situations they face, the technology is there. That’s the good news. The bad news: Messaging content and skills training approaches are not always present.

The stuff you put in the technology has been lagging behind the ability of tools to dish it out. And for salespeople to be effective storytellers throughout the customer lifecycle, it needs to catch up.

So what needs to change to make this happen? In my view, the big leap forward will come about through a convergence
of the marketing messaging and sales training content — i.e. a convergence of the story salespeople need to be effective with the skills to help them match the appropriate message to the selling moment at hand.

This convergence will be powered by interactive, integrated content — think sales playbooks that enable just-in-time, situational learning, giving reps specific coaching whenever and wherever they need it. As an example, imagine a rep sitting around in a lobby, waiting for a meeting in which he or she really needs to convince a prospect to change and show contrast between you and your competitive alternatives (or their incumbent vendor, for that matter). They should be equipped with both the messaging content for that selling scenario and the selling techniques that matter for that moment, from any mobile device.

Below are three features of these integrated, interactive playbooks that will help bring about the just-in-time learning revolution:

  • Match your skills learning to the situation – Salespeople face a multitude of different selling situations throughout the customer lifecycle, so a one-size-fits-all approach to messaging and skills won’t do. Maybe you’re the outsider, and your reps need to tell a story that helps them build pipeline, convincing prospects to leave their current situation and choose you (why change?/why you?). Or maybe you’ve got to make a solid business proposal that creates urgency and justifies the business value of your solution to executive buyers (why now?). You might already be the insider, and your focus could be about maximizing long-term value by getting your customers to renew with you (why stay?) or even pay more (why pay?). Salespeople need short, just-in-time, situation-specific learning experiences that bring together the key messages and skills they need to tell these many different types of stories well.
  • Apply tested and proven frameworks – A salesperson is only as effective as the story he or she tells. That’s why you can’t afford to chance it when it comes to giving them the messages they need to be successful across the customer lifecycle. The playbook of the future will base its messaging for each interaction off tested and proven frameworks, which are supported by actual research and can help reps tell the right story in key moments. The more research and rigor you can apply to the stories and skills you need in specific selling scenarios, the more impactful you will be.
  • Bring your stories and skills together – Integrated, interactive playbooks will blur the lines between your marketing stories and sales skills, recognizing that the effectiveness of skills training alone is limited if salespeople don’t have a compelling story to deliver via those skills.

With content this dynamic, salespeople will be empowered to learn anywhere, reinforce their skills at any time, and tell the most effective story for the selling situation they face.

The time is now to integrate your marketing messages and skills training into one single, just-in-time, situation-specific experience for your salespeople. The technology is ready. The messaging frameworks and skills training — backed by tested and proven research, and based in the decision-making sciences — is next.

Tim Riesterer is Chief Strategy and Research Officer at Corporate Visions, a leading marketing and sales messaging, content and training company.