Sometimes, it can be a challenge to generate excitement for sales training. Your reps already have a lot going on, and you need to find new ways to create a buzz around the next learning module – especially when your teams are working remotely.
Collaborative learning is a great way to grab attention and build excitement for your sales training. It’s also a fantastic technique to strengthen connections within your sales team and to leverage specialist knowledge and expertise across your whole business.
In this post, I’ll show you how we put collaborative learning to work in practice at 360Learning. I’ll take you through a step-by-step process for generating sales training buzz by putting your reps in the driver seat, connecting subject matter experts, and using learner feedback to continuously improve the quality and relevance of your training content.
Let’s get started with the fundamentals: what is collaborative learning?
What is collaborative learning?
Collaborative learning is an environment in which two or more people are working together to share knowledge and solve problems.
This can be as simple as getting a sales rep to share their best responses to common objections, or as elaborate as getting your best sales rep to create a training session on his step-by-step process to win every deal and have him coach your new reps. It’s up to you to decide how to put this collaboration into practice.
Taking a collaborative approach within your sales training means bringing people together to share their needs, contribute their knowledge and expertise, and learn from each other. As 360Learning’s one-woman sales enablement team, collaborative learning helps me create content that is engaging, impactful and gets salespeople excited.
Here’s why collaborative learning makes such a big difference.
How collaborative learning makes sales training exciting
Keeping your sales reps engaged in their learning and development can be tough. It’s not enough simply to hire the right reps to help grow your business – you need to make sure your reps continue to learn new skills. And an efficient way to ensure that is to create training that gets them excited.
Collaborative learning helps encourage your reps to engage with sales training. That’s because it helps you create content that is relevant, engaging, and up-to-date.
Here’s what we mean in practice:
- Relevant: When reps complete training created by people who are far removed or lacking in expertise, they can tell. By putting subject matter experts at the center of training creation, collaborative learning ensures your sales training content is sharp, clear, relevant, and addresses the specific questions your reps might have. This will keep your reps coming back for more.
- Engaging: If the extent of your content variation is text, video, speaker – you’re doing it wrong.. You should be producing widely varied, fun, interactive, and engaging content on which learners and authors alike can interact in real-time – just like they would in the classroom. This, I guarantee, will skyrocket your completion rates.
- Up-to-date: The nature of collaborative learning essentially forces you to integrate feedback loops for all training content. As they complete their training, your reps react to your material (I like it; I learned something; I don’t get it; etc.) and flag anything that is outdated. This helps your sales training course stay current, and makes every training module a process of continuous learning and improvement.
Those are just some of the benefits of collaborative learning in sales training.
Now, I’ll show you how we use this approach to build excitement around our sales training.
How to use collaborative learning to build excitement around sales training
As the Head of Sales Enablement, it’s my job to help our reps hit their quotas.
To do this, I need to empower our reps to declare their learning needs, involve the right experts in developing training content, and set up a feedback loop to make sure we’re always improving.
Collaborative learning delivers on every one of these priorities. Here’s how.
- Empowering bottom-up requests from sales reps
We all know Sales Enablement is in the middle of a lot of different functions. As a manager, you have training requests coming from a lot of teams at once. Marketing, leadership, strategy, operations, product development: everyone has their own training priorities for your reps.
It is crucial, however, to not let these overwhelming requests drown out the voice of sales reps who, at the end of the day, have a pretty good idea of what they’re missing to close their deals!
They’re in contact with your customers every day, and they know what’s happening in the market. You need to give them a place to submit requests for learning and respond to these requests with tailored and specific training content.
Collaborative learning helps you empower your reps to make bottom-up training requests. For example, at 360Learning, we have a portal for our reps to submit or upvote training requests. These then come through to me, and I prioritize training based on urgency and impact to the bottom line. Below is an example of a request submitted by a sales rep at 360Learning.
As you can see, Collaborative Learning starts from minute 1, as colleagues will come upvote and comment on the Learning Need to bring attention to it and increase its chances of being met.
- Co-authoring sales training material
Collaborative learning is all about unlocking shared knowledge and expertise. Co-authoring sales training material puts this power into practice.
The first thing you can do when creating training content is to task those with the right skills and experience to co-author the material. This is an opportunity to build and strengthen links between teams. It also makes sure your content is valid and current.
At 360Learning, we also use a reviewer role where, once the content has been created but before it’s been shipped, experts offer their thoughts and suggestions to make the content as strong as possible. It’s important to have a mix of people collaborating in this process, as people bring different strengths and perspectives to the table.
This process of co-authoring also helps us to incorporate a mixture of formats in our training. For example, one co-author might contribute a video, another an interactive game, and another a competitive quiz to allow reps to compete as they learn. Interactivity adds some variety to our training and helps make things more exciting.
- Promoting and refining your training content
You might think your work is done once you’ve deployed your sales training material. In reality, this is only the midpoint: now, you need to promote and refine your content.
Your sales reps have a lot of commitments to juggle, and a lot of messages coming through all the time. It’s down to you to make sure they not only see the training announcement, but that they actively engage with the content. You need to prompt your reps to sign up and give them as many reminders as they need.
It’s also critical to encourage a feedback loop after shipping your content. You need to give your learners the opportunity to have their say on the training content, including any areas of improvement. That way, you can make sure your training material stays current. This is my favorite part of our learning platform:
By gathering this feedback, you can find out where your content is hitting the mark, and where it needs improving. For example, if most of your reps are reacting with the button “I disagree” or “I don’t get it,” probably best to rethink that part of your training.
By putting this feedback loop to work, you will – undoubtedly –offer your reps training content that is more enriching, relevant, and engaging. That’s collaborative learning in action.
Don’t settle for average sales training
So, that’s a step-by-step guide to how we use collaborative learning to build excitement for sales training. Alongside using sales data to drive performance and learning onboarding tips from industry leaders, collaborative learning is our secret weapon to keep our reps informed, engaged, and always learning.
Take a look at our tips and techniques, and see what collaborative learning could do for you and your reps!