Whether it’s searching for home improvement tips or learning the best way to sell a new product, technology has completely changed the way people learn new skills today. We expect to find the information we need instantly, regardless of where we are, what time it is or how we go about our days. (Thank you, Google and Steve Jobs.)
This is especially true as the working population grows increasingly comfortable with new learning formats, like video and mobile apps. Forrester Research found that 75% of employees are more likely to watch video lessons than read a document, email or web article. At the same time, attention spans are shorter than ever in an age of social media and endless distraction. Cognitive backlog – which happens when the brain absorbs new information too quickly – occurs after just 10 minutes of presentation in some cases, according to leading biologist John Medina.
Many organizations have rightfully embraced microlearning to address shifting learning preferences and promote better long-term knowledge retention. By delivering knowledge in “bite-sized” chunks that learners can easily consume and access, companies allow their employees to learn on the job and as needed, instead of confining them to a formal classroom setting.
In sales, where microlearning is gaining popularity and acceptance, you want newly-hired reps in the field as quickly as possible. Chances are, your salespeople would also much rather spend their time connecting with prospects and customers than powering through a five-day training workshop.
However, microlearning alone will not prepare a sales force to do its job effectively. B2B organizations (and their sales enablement functions) need a way to ensure that reps have the knowledge and skills needed to maximize their time in front of buyers – before they ever engage one.
Why Microlearning Alone Won’t Cut It
It’s one thing to know that your sales reps have completed all required microlearning. But just because they’ve completed it, doesn’t mean they’re prepared for the unexpected twists and turns that can happen during a sales conversation.
There’s a difference in knowing that your sellers can actually apply the knowledge and skills they have gained during training, both in front of a buyer and throughout the sales process.
If you don’t know whether reps can apply what they learned, then you may very well have underprepared sales reps “practicing” on unsuspecting buyers right now – wasting time for both parties and costing you potential deals.
The only way to determine whether reps can perform when it’s “crunch time” is through assessment. Your sellers probably think they’re ready to start calling on buyers, but until you force them to prove it, you’re not assessing – you’re guessing. And that’s a recipe for poor results.
Microlearning + Micro-Assessments = Sales Readiness
Just as a PB&J without the “J” is a poorly-designed sandwich (unless you substitute the J with Fluff!), microlearning without micro-assessments is poor learning design.
When we talk about micro-assessments, we can think about them at three different levels:
- Knowledge-checks: These are typically delivered as quizzes and tests that are embedded within microlearning content. An example would include assessing reps’ knowledge of a certain product or whether they have grasped the concepts of a new methodology by having them answer questions that connect back to key points from the learning material.
- Simulation: Simulations assess reps’ abilities to apply what they’ve learned. Traditionally, this meant structured role-playing. Today, it includes the use of video coaching and assessment tools.
- Observation: These assessments involve observing a rep engaging with a buyer. This could encompass managers reviewing reps’ email conversations, listening in on phone conversations or recordings (check your state’s privacy laws), and/or observing a sales meeting in the field.
Remember that microlearning is effective because it is concise, engaging, and focused on one specific learning objective. Your micro-assessments should have the same traits and they should be delivered in the same way: wherever, whenever and however your reps work.
Sales readiness technology makes it easy to create and deliver video-based micro-assessments for any selling scenario. Users can create a video-based micro-assessment that prompts reps to record themselves delivering a 1-minute prospecting pitch, which is then submitted to managers for grading and coaching feedback. This ensures that each rep really is ready to maximize their time in front of buyers.
With objective machine scoring, available through tools like Brainshark’s AI-powered Machine Analysis engine, sales teams can now deliver a more complete micro-assessment and improve the quality of coaching feedback provided.
For example, if you’re onboarding new sales development reps, you could use Brainshark to create a video-based micro-assessment that prompts reps to record themselves delivering a 1-minute prospecting pitch. They can submit that video to a manager or sales coach, who could use Machine Analysis to identify which reps were speaking too quickly, using filler words, or omitting key phrases from your value messaging, before they share feedback with the rep.
Sales training, whether delivered in a classroom or through micro-learning technology, is not an end in and of itself. The end is sales readiness – knowing reps are ready to engage buyers and bring value to every interaction. 2019 should be the year you make micro-assessments part of your readiness strategy.
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