Technology increases ROI of sales training

Paul Nolan

U.S. companies spend more than $70 billion annually on training. Sales training is allotted nearly $1,500 per year per person — almost 20 percent more than what is spent training workers in any other function. Yet many sales managers remain dubious about the ROI of their sales training.

A big problem, say Frank Cespedes and Yuchun Lee in an article for Harvard Business Review, is that too much of what is called sales training is really little more than an information dump.

The two men recommend using videos and mobile apps, which not only allow for disseminating information in smaller, more timely bites, but also are scientifically proven to improve comprehension and retention. (Full disclosure: Lee is co-founder and CEO of Allego, a company that provides a mobile sales learning platform.) They offer these ideas on incorporating technology into sales training:

Before – On-boarding should be treated as an on-going process, not a one-off event. To supplement its quarterly “boot camps,” Salesforce Commerce Cloud uses a mobile platform to give sales reps access to the most relevant content, product positioning and messaging. One new rep said the videos brought her up to speed on company messaging quickly. As a result, she felt more confident in her corporate knowledge and relevant sales tasks before her start date.

During – Technology can allow reps to continuously learn from mobile content that is customized to their needs. Reps for Pacific Life Insurance Company, who sell wholesale to financial advisors, record their practice pitches and share them with their regional sales managers, who give feedback from their mobile devices when and where reps need it.

After – Technology can help extend the reach of good sales managers. Pacific Life sales managers, for example, effectively coach wholesalers without the need to be in the same time zone. Mobile video coaching has allowed managers to identify potential weaknesses and improve wholesalers’ message delivery, rather than have them practice on advisers.