Cheif Learning Officer Solutions for Enterprise Productivity

Leveraging Technology for Improved Sales Performance

 -  12/28/05

How can you measure the impact of technology and training on business, and more particularly, the sales function? The past 10 years have introduced e-mail, Web meetings and customer relationship management (CRM) software to businesses at a blistering pace, and while millions of dollars are being invested in various IT systems and initiatives, quantifying it all is an elusive challenge for decision-makers. What kind of ROI can be attributed to the implementation of a CRM system throughout an enterprise? How does a sales manager gauge the value of a sales seminar to his staff's performance?

CLOs can take a creative approach to sales training and performance. A blended learning approach, if implemented skillfully, can have a direct and measurable impact on the bottom line.

The case for blended learning has not been difficult to prove. Defined as a "range of training methods and media to enhance and maximize learning opportunities," blended learning typically utilizes online training materials to teach basic concepts and traditional seminar or classroom settings to reinforce lessons. Unfortunately, blended learning solutions do not typically come out of a box, and therefore, the onus is on managers to evaluate and integrate different components according to their company's or division's needs. This can be time-consuming and expensive. Further, the challenge for mid-sized and larger companies is in measuring the ROI of these initiatives, in addition to the software and infrastructure costs, such as CRM software and the learning management systems that accompany them.

Blended learning systems should generate measurable results. One of the keys to a winning sales training system is identifying and training to key sales competencies. A metrics-based system helps establish training benchmarks, improve performance competencies and measure results over time. That is the only sure-fire way to judge the effects of sales training initiatives and investments.

A large percentage of sales training is event-based and focuses on intensive tactical crash courses with little to no follow-up after the seminars are over. The result is a low ROI, where sales professionals get motivated for a period of time before reverting back to bad habits and their normal routines. Instead of focusing on the daily disciplines or core competencies required to improve performance, such as setting more C-level appointments or increasing revenue-per-sale, managers and sales staff focus on monthly and quarterly quotas, which do little to improve the process. The traditional sales training model, where staff gets bombarded with manuals, workbooks and other materials, does not drive competence as effectively as a combination of learning platforms such as Web-based, CD-ROM, simulation software and virtual on-demand support.

Article Keywords:   blended learning   e-Learning   LMS   measurement   mentoring   metrics   outsourcing   technology  


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