Using Your LMS to Boost Sales Performance

How to boost your company’s sales using effective blended learning. 

Your LMS can make a huge impact on the sales performance of your organisation by supporting effective blended learning. It is often overlooked as a key component of sales and marketing technology, and yet a learning management system will contribute to deliver measurable sales growth if used effectively for both internal and external audiences. I am going to cover some ideas on how to use your LMS for your internal audiences that will form a key part of your sales strategy to deliver sustained predictable revenue growth for your business. We are talking here about people with job titles like those below who are responsible for delivering sales results.
• VP of Sales
• Sales Managers
• Sales Executives
iStock_000014315034Large • Sales Representatives
• Internal Sales
• Marketing Managers and their teams

The most basic use of the LMS is to capture and maintain training histories. This should be no different for your sales team. By maintaining sales training histories you will be able to more effectively measure the return on investment of the training you are investing in. If you are a Sales Manager you should be very interested in this data when you are preparing to request money to undertake further training. If you are a Learning and Development Professional, you may include this data in your reporting to highlight areas of improvement and to verify a link between training investment and improved performance on the job.

• Sales training is often instructor led and the learners are then expected to apply their learning to their jobs. In ideal cases, there is follow up and practical coaching to ensure there is learning retention. If you outsource your sales training, consider these ways to use your LMS to get better results:
• Create competency frameworks for your training that can be aligned with different roles and job titles.
• Ask your training provider for resources that can be adde to the LMS for learners to refer to after the training as refreshers.
• Set up discussion forums to enable informal sharing of ideas and best practices among participants.
• Allow your training provider access to your LMS to participate in discussion forums, add new content and respond to questions.

There are some excellent ‘off-the-shelf’ e-learning programs available for sales and marketing training. We offer one comprehensive program that is designed for the 70:20:10 learning framework. Using this model encourages the natural inclination to learn ‘on the job.’ The framework looks like this:
• 70% of learning occurs through challenges and practices on the job.
• 20% of learning derives from social exposure from personal networks, coaching and other collaboration.
• 10% of learning is achieved from structured courses and programs.

For example, you may offer learners short online learning modules delivered from your LMS. These learning modules are supported by written tools or checklists to apply the learning to the job. Each learner is asked to journal their experiences in applying the learning. A manager or coach meets with the learners every week to discuss the learning content and share ideas and experiences in applying the learning. The LMS is used to facilitate online discussion forums and the individual journalling. The short e-learning modules are available 24×7 for refresher sessions.

Here are some ideas to use a blended e-learning approach to sales and marketing training.
• Use short e-learning modules linked to skills or competencies in your LMS.
• Provide strong linkage between the competencies and the performance objectives of the people in the sales and marketing teams.
• Set up collaborative environments in your LMS. The discussion forums, messaging, expert areas, and supporting content will all help to support learning.
• Establish a management process that includes one on one or group meetings to discuss the learning, competencies and the application of these on the job.
• Ensure managers are ‘shadowing’ and providing supportive coaching to learners on-the-job. For external sales teams this can be termed ‘curb-side coaching.’ For internal people it could mean a sales and/or marketing manager working hands on with the team.
• Ensure the learning and development team meet with the relevant managers to gain feedback and insight on how the learning program is going.
• Establish metrics covering areas such as participation rates, learner feedback, course feedback and of course sales performance.
There are other tools that may also be used to provide a fully integrated approach to sales and marketing training. We have clients who have also developed new sales processes, marketing strategies and customer service processes that are supported by both the LMS and the CRM, [customer relationship management software].

If you are interested in exploring highly effective sales training for your business, please get in touch and we can provide you some ideas and let you experience our short e-learning modules and coaching services.

Best Practices to Achieve 70:20:10

Here is a list of the five best practices e-learning courseware design elements, that when used together, can help your learners make the transition from the formal e-learning space to application on the job—thus moving you closer to achieving 70:20:10 in your learning mix.

Specific Instructions

Rather than rely on simulations or exercises in your courses or workshops, which is still part of the 10%, provide the learner with step by step instructions on how to apply the course on the job.

This will eliminate the issue that David V. Day mentioned in his article about “happenstance and ad hoc at best.” The structure and guidance on how to handle the situation is provided—nothing is left to chance. The learner will know exactly what to do.

Keep Courses Short

Most e-learning courses tackle more than one topic. Here is an example, communication skills training. Communication skills training covers numerous topics ranging from listening skills to non-verbal communication skills to knowing your audience and so on.

Instead of one long communication course, an alternative training method would be to provide short courses also known as micro-learning, chunked learning, or bite sized learning.

They all mean the same thing: learning content that is broken down into small bite sized chunks or one single learning topic or learning objective per course.

This allows the learner to select the exact course to meet individual need at the time of need. When too many topics are addressed at the same time, the learner wastes time getting to the point in the course that applies to their particular need.

Employees and leaders have no patience for wading through information, thus wasting their time. This can lead to low e-learning course utilization.

Job Aids

Provide the learner with job aids they can use on the job in conjunction with the step by step instructions.

Job Aids make it easy for the learner to complete the exercise. Removing barriers to completing the exercise will help your learners start and finish the on-the-job exercise.

Mobile

To help your learner complete the  instructions on the job, in an actual work situation, the learning content needs to be able to be accessed on a hand held device.

Each step that the learner needs to go through to access the information acts as a barrier. Eliminate as many of them as possible.

Self Assessment

Most e-learning courses end with a quiz that measures knowledge acquisition. This is appropriate in formal training.

However, if you are designing courses that provide structure for the 70%, add an assessment that asks the learner to reflect on his/her experience and the skill building activities after the step by step instructions.

As Charles Jennings suggests, this is an important component to learning in the 70%.


David Patterson, a director of Learning Light
, which owns the E-Learning Center and provides advice and help to organizations using e-learning and learning technologies to improve their business performance, explained:

“It’s now well accepted—and research shows—that 70% of development happens on the job, 20% happens through coaching and mentoring, and the last 10% comes through formal learning, including e-learning and instructor-led workshops.”

“Vado’s courses are the only off-the-shelf courseware that helps learners to make the transition from the formal learning environment to applying that learning on the job.”

He continued, “Basically, Vado not only espouses the 70:20:10 model but its e-learning courses embody the model’s principles, using the 10% to deliver the 70% and thus, make the learners and the organizations they work for more productive and profitable.”

Incorporate the Best Practices

Combine these five design elements to create e-learning courseware that will help the learner apply on the job to….

  • Leverage the natural way a person develops
  • Provide structure to the 70%
  • Lower your training and development costs
  • Increase personal performance
  • Increase organizational performance

70:20:10 in Action

To see an employee soft skill development or management development course created using the five design elements listed above, contact us and we will give you a demonstration.