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Moving from Traditional Virtual Training to a Collaborative Learning Experience

Sales Training

COVID-19 has accelerated the move from traditional classroom-based sales training to virtual training. Participants' experience with virtual has been mixed. The unfortunate and inconvenient truth is that virtual sales training has struggled for years to produce the desired outcomes and return on investment that many programs promise. Challenges include lack of participant engagement, poor retention of concepts, and failure to create lasting behavior change in the real world.

According to recent research by Training Industry, the most successful and satisfying training programs are the ones that match the personal learning styles of the participants.

In our experience, the greater the opportunity that participants have to consume content at their own pace, collaborate with their peers in meaningful ways, and then apply the skills to real-life situations, the more likely the program will be to create lasting behavior change.

In response to these challenges, SRG's Collaborative Learning Experience (CLX) training provides a multi-modal approach that encourages participants to learn from each other. CLX combines the best attributes of eLearning, live virtual training, real-world application, and peer-to-peer learning.

Components of the Collaborative Learning Experience (CLX)

Microsoft's Satya Nadella has suggested that successful organizations of the future (including Microsoft) need to move from a "Know-It-All Culture to a Learn-It-All culture."

To continue to evolve and compete, organizations need to create an environment that supports this "Learn it all" vision. This vision means providing continuous, just-in-time learning opportunities that can be applied to real-life situations.  

At the heart of any training program is good content. For training to be successful in today's fast-paced environment, content needs to be engaging, personalized, and even entertaining. New employees entering the workforce are accustomed to consuming content just-in-time, at the point of need, and on multiple devices. We need to provide options that align with this learning preference.

Our CLX program supports this vision as outlined below:

clx-components

Engaging Content

  • Micro-learning videos and easily digestible content engages the learning
  • Weekly release of learning content supports spaced learning
  • "Voice of the Learner" and Executive Sponsor videos put learning into context

Peer Collaboration

  • Cohort group design encourages collaboration and social interaction among team
  • Activities and discussion forums support peer to peer coaching and learning
  • Transparency of "Ask the Expert" normalizes the learning process and encourages participants to share challenges in a safe environment
  • Learners engage with each other to address industry-specific applications of the concepts and share best practices

Real-World Application

  • Assignments and projects focus on real-world skill application of the skills throughout the program
  • Live cohort sessions provide participants with real-time interaction, peer recognition, and coaching
  • Assignments are peer-reviewed based on a standard rubric to reinforce desired behaviors

Gamification

  • Modern User Experience (UX) engages the learner
  • Missions, badges, and gamification dramatically improve course completion rates
  • Leaderboards, missions, badges, and group recognition help to celebrate success

Performance Support

  • Tools, resources, and reference materials are provided in a single location for easy reference
  • Platform and resources are available after initial training to support reinforcement and coaching
  • Micro-videos and blogs are available with a corresponding coaching guide to help address specific skill gaps.

Virtual Instructor-Led Training has evolved and progressed rapidly, even over the past year, as organizations have been forced to pivot to online training. However, a great VILT experience is not sufficient, just like a great in-person training event rarely produces the desired behavior change unless accompanied by ongoing reinforcement and coaching.

By rethinking VILT as only one component of a Collaborative Learning Experience, we're able to provide sales organizations with excellent training, reinforcement skill application, and collaboration, all as part of a single program. We suggest this should be a blueprint for sales training in the future, regardless of the method used to deliver the initial training content.

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About Ray Makela

Ray Makela is CEO and Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He oversees all client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.