Today, one of the most critical aspects of B2B sales is simply being able to keep up with changing buyer behavior. Between the pace that new technologies are altering sales processes to changing buyer demographics, the entire nature of the sales cycle is evolving. That affects salespeople as well as buyers.
One of the best ways to keep your partner sales reps prepared for these changes is through the delivery of training and certification programs. The challenge is setting up the right training materials in such a way that they’re appealing to those that need to take it. Rewards and incentives can only go so far. If partner sales staff (or your own) see your training modules as a waste of time, or as interfering with their own productivity, they’ll likely skip it entirely.
The balance lies in creating a program that combines the right tools to make your partners more effective, while encouraging their ongoing participation.
Key Areas To Remember When Training Your Partner Sales Staff (And Your Own!)
1 - Keep It Short & Sweet
Perhaps more than any other element of making appealing training materials, brevity is truly a virtue. Sales staff do not want to lose entire days to training sessions, particularly when they probably have buyers on the hook who may potentially be calling/texting/emailing at any time during a business day.
There’s no hard rule about how long a single training session should be, but “less than an hour” is probably a good rule of thumb. Much longer than that, and they may end up more interested in emailing buyers than what you have to say. If you can find ways to break up the material into even smaller chunks, all the better. For example, extended content can be segmented into several 5-10 minutes sections, available on a self-paced schedule, rather than having to be consumed all at once.
2 – Avoid Fixed Time Commitments When Possible
There are certainly times where a live demonstration or webinar can be useful, but what happens if a salesperson already has a buyer meeting scheduled for that same time? If their paycheck is on the line, that will almost certainly take priority. And if they ended up being forced to attend the seminar anyway, they’ll resent it and probably won’t learn much.
Your training materials should be as asynchronous as possible, with the bulk of the material available online for review when it’s convenient for them. If there is a live event, at the very least ensure it’s recorded and available for viewing later. That way there’s far less chance of a salesperson having to make an unpleasant choice between training and making a sale.
3 – Be Mobile-Ready
Desktop computer usage is already on the decline, and that’s even more true among fast-paced and on-the-move employees like sales reps. When putting materials online, be sure that all of it will be readily accessible through mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
4 – Integrate Social Learning
Social learning -such as through shared chatrooms and message boards- is an extremely effective learning tool in general, particularly if much of the learning is happening online. It’s the next-best-thing to classroom learning, when you can’t have all of your reps in one place.
This is particularly crucial when you’re trying to build camaraderie within a distributed sales ecosystem. When you have sales reps spread out across the country -or the world- they’re going to have very few opportunities to actually meet each other face-to-face. Having interactive social learning elements is a great chance for them to come into contact with each other and share tips, while also working towards common learning goals.
5 – Allow Them To Work At Their Own Pace
Perhaps this only seems to follow logically from everything else said, but to spell it out: Self-paced learning is almost always the best option for training sales representatives. Between their various time commitments, their mobile-focused lives, and the frequently-unpredictable behavior of their own buyers, they’re going to have a hard time working highly-structured classes into their own lives.
Anything you can do to allow them to train according to their own schedules, like putting both the training materials and examinations online, will do a lot to increase compliance rates with training initiatives. Consider lengthy in-person training sessions to be an absolute last-resort measure, something to be avoided whenever possible due to the usually-unnecessary costs and time burdens such sessions will impose.
LogicBay PRM Simplifies Training Throughout Your Ecosystem
A full-featured LMS is one of the many modular features we’ve built into our Partner Relationship Management technology. This allows our customers to create and deliver an unlimited amount of training materials and certification programs, as well as reviews and exams. These are accessible to every partner within your ecosystem, along with all their own employees. Then, the results of the training modules can be tracked on both a per-partner and per-employee basis.
With LogicBay, you can eliminate costly in-person training seminars, while using tracking and rewards to incentivize further growth and improvement. At the same time, the platform is mobile-friendly for on-the-go sales reps who don’t have the time or patience for lengthy training sessions. There’s no better solution for standardizing training across all your partners.