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Remote Selling has become an important focus for every sales organization. Digital sales technologies, by default, are what enable remote selling. In this interview series, we ask executives at leading salestech companies to describe how their customers are leveraging technology, what metrics are now possible, and more. 

Q: What are your customers doing to adapt to - or leverage - the trend towards distributed sales teams and remote selling?

A majority of Qstream’s customers selling models are through field sales models and recently moving to virtually selling. Remote selling requires a variety of skill-sets: learning how to demonstrate the product online; doing a virtual sales presentation using Zoom; or keeping a customer engaged and building value in the absence of face-to-face connectivity.

Remote selling requires communication

Remote selling requires constant communication, and that means constant training. Field sales professionals are accustomed to attending in-person training events which serve the purpose of teambuilding. That’s not an option anymore. Instructor-led training is now virtual. Sales professionals juggle between remote selling and virtual learning. Many sales teams discovered that they were using ineffective methods to engage sales professionals in learning activities to build these new skills and stay productive selling.

Another common solution was to endeavor to use traditional Learning Management Systems (LMS) for sales training, but similar to instructor-led training, the LMS is proven to be time-consuming and disengaging. For the topics that are essential for sales success, sales professionals become bored using an LMS, pay limited attention, and miss the purpose of the learning. These traditional methods don’t work for training in sales.

Microlearning as the main method

Qstream’s customers use Microlearning as their main source for learning delivery to sellers. Microlearning is a fitting solution for remote sellers because it engages learners and doesn’t interrupt their sales activities. Sales professionals don’t have to spend time trying to find the course that they need to take to gain the knowledge and skills to be a successful remote seller.

Many Qstream customers didn’t have a strong sense of their salesforces’ capabilities to sell in a completely new remote model. Instead of guessing what skills the sales team needs, microlearning lets them assess their sellers remote selling skills and expose gaps and risks at the time of training, letting sales enablement teams focus on specific missing skills versus wasting time training what people already know.

Q: What metrics should customers of Sales Enablement solutions use to measure the impact or progress of their activities?

Many organizations are reevaluating the metrics required to measure the impact enablement activities have on revenue and overall business performance. Oftentimes, in-person classroom training was measured in terms of “who showed up” versus “what did they learn.” An LMS for the most part is only going to measure whether someone  completed a course, the date it was finished and maybe how long it took them to complete it. None of these forms of measurability are valuable to distinguish if sales enablement investments affected the performance of sales professionals.

Moving sales enablement programs online creates a demand for better metrics and deeper insights on sales professionals knowledge.

Qstream’s customers’ main metric to analyze learning effectiveness is proficiency. Proficiency analytics helps them find out sales professionals current state of knowledge then progresses them with reinforcement in areas of deficiency to advance to the knowledge and skill levels to sell effectively. Knowing a sales professionals’ proficiency on all topics to be an expert remote seller help managers to take action to develop talent while assessing risk (i.e., finding out who isn’t capable of developing into a high performing member of the sales team).

Basing developmental needs for a remote seller strictly on performance data doesn’t give a complete understanding of what training you need to put them through. The combination of having proficiency and performance analytics tells the full story of what people know and how that’s translating into progress towards goals and what actions can be taken to get a seller to excel.

Q: What steps can Sales Enablement solutions users take to best facilitate their prospects’ decision-making given that interactions are likely remote?

In the world of onsite, in person selling – which we all hope returns in a not distant future, relationships could often overcome gaps in knowledge. In remote settings gaps in knowledge quite simply result in lost sales.

With that in mind, sales enablement, and its ability to empower the salesforce through knowledge – and confirm that knowledge – has never been more critical. Sales enablement by using knowledge reinforcement tactics is an incredible competitive advantage. Having meaningful analytics available with a frontline managers’ involvement in coaching supports this mission.

It’s not good enough to assume people know something because they complete a SCORM course. In a remote selling context, sales leaders need to be absolutely sure who gained knowledge and who did not, who is trending toward full knowledge and who is resistant, and therefore who will best represent the brand and who risks “making it up as they go along” and by doing so risks sales and, indeed the reputation of the business in the process.

Q: What are one or two examples of how a customer is using your solution in surprising ways.

Qstream customers commonly use our technology for spacing and testing knowledge after a training occurs to further reinforce and sustain knowledge that was taught. We’re starting to see a lot of customers use Qstream for pre-assessment of knowledge, meaning finding out where the skills gaps exist and to see where there are common trends within their salesforce to focus their training efforts.

A pre-assessment guides where sales enablement should focus their time building content and enabling a sales professional on specific topics that they need help with. They view Qstream not only as a knowledge reinforcement tool but also a solution to assess knowledge to guide developmental needs of their teams in order to get them to where they need to be to perform at their best.                 

Q: What is the impact on organizations that adopt virtual training?

An advantage of adopting virtual training are associated cost savings. The cost of flying sales professionals to one central location for a day long training session is expensive. When you have a large salesforce this becomes expensive to cover everyone’s costs.

Another cost that’s not being calculated is the cost of taking sales professionals away from selling. Although training is important, keeping them away from being productive and spending time with customers represents a money-losing proposition. Even though in-person training isn’t the only time-consuming challenge, long, disengaging SCORM courses aren’t necessarily better (and at times can be worse). And it’s all time lost from selling.

The time it takes to develop training content and having a trainer have to put on a training to teach the materials is also a costly. Many sales training programs involve purchasing an outsourced resource or off-the shelf content to come into your organization and do the training. For the most part, those third-party training offerings aren’t customized to your sales professionals learning needs or fulfil the needs of benefiting a sales professional’s performance or meeting other business objectives.

This is no different when doing eLearning in an LMS. The cost and effort required to implement these types of technologies have high costs. On top of that, the load of work that is involved in administering those systems to make sure content is up to date. These forms of training shouldn’t be the only way to get information to sales professionals.

Our customers here at Qstream are firm believers that training is much more than taking a sales training course. They believe that if sales training is to benefit sales performance, knowledge reinforcement must involve post-training knowledge reinforcement for long-term retention.

The use of microlearning is a much more effective way to have sales training have an impact on the organization because it engages sales professionals while learning is embedded within their day of selling virtually. Microlearning is cost effective and is much more efficient than traditional learning methods and doesn’t take time away from selling.

Q: How will selling be forever changed – will remote selling be the new norm?

Sales has changed more than any other business function by the events of last year. Even if sales teams want to be fully on the road again, buyers don’t necessarily want to invite them.

This is a real advantage for the best sales professionals: the ones with the knowledge to make persuasive winning arguments armed with timely, precise knowledge. Knowledge is becoming the essential ingredient for a winning sales team, and no amount of charisma, relationship building, or sales methodology can overcome the risks of gaps in knowledge within the salesforce.

This affects sales enablement more than any other sales function: they’re the team that can select the solutions that arm the team with the knowledge that they need to win. They’re the ones who can make sure that key concepts and essential knowledge stand out in a world of digital confusion and distractions. They’re the ones who can react and fill gaps in knowledge based on facts. And even when some level of limited onsite sales returns to a pre-pandemic normal that’s never going to change.

Gary Greenberger

VP Global Sales
Qstream

Qstream is a microlearning solution proven by science and in practice to boost learner performance through knowledge reinforcement, engagement, and analytics. 600+ organizations rely on Qstream to build high-performance teams by delivering a microlearning experience that reinforces job-critical knowledge in minutes a day, exposing a real-time view of performance readiness.