How eLearning Can Increase Sales Team Productivity

Let's examine the reasons for poor sales performance and then see how eLearning can eliminate the causes and take your business to the next level.

The famous 20/60/20 rule applied to sales performance indicates that 20% of your salespeople continuously meet or exceed the quote, 60% show average results, and 20% don’t meet the company’s goals. This means that 80% of your salespeople need to increase their productivity. But how can you do this?

In this article, we’ll examine the reasons for poor sales performance and then see how eLearning can eliminate the causes and take your business to the next level.


Reasons for Low Sales Productivity

Many factors can cause low sales productivity, from poor product quality to salespeople’s personal problems. eLearning isn’t almighty, so we’ll focus only on issues you can solve with well-crafted retail training.


Lack of People Skills

The idea of a person with poorly developed human skills choosing to work in sales might seem surprising and illogical. Yet, the truth is it happens. As you may know, charisma, empathy, and maintaining a conversation are some of the essential skills a salesperson should have. A lack of them might lead to a bad customer experience: they might dislike a salesperson or even get angry.

As a result, a company loses more than these particular customers – people spread the word about your business attitude based on their communication with a salesperson. Your company gets a bad reputation that can cost you potential clients.


Poor Knowledge of Technology

Technology is an inseparable part of business nowadays. Most companies use customer relationship management (CRM) software, such as Salesforce, for customer relationship management. If your salespeople struggle when using it, this can hurt their productivity. Even if employees have previous experience working with a CRM from a previous workplace, they might have issues adjusting to how your company uses this technology. And if your company sells digital products or any other technology-related products, then your salespeople must at least be confident users, if not tech-savvy per se.


The Learning Through Mistakes Approach

Have you ever heard stories from salespeople of a fatal mistake they once made that resulted in losing a big sale — and how much they learned that day? The tradition of learning through mistakes probably goes back to the very dawn of humankind: some ancient people might have attacked a big wild beast without a plan, and the beast would kill most of them or flee, leaving them starving. And then they might think: well, it’s not such a great idea to hunt without planning it out first.

Thousands of years later, having lots of knowledge and the experience of many generations, salespeople still tend to learn through trial and error. Yes, this approach certainly won’t kill them, but businesses lose a great amount of money waiting for salespeople to finish their learning through mistakes process.


eLearning Solutions for Sales Teams

Sales training has proven highly efficient, demonstrating an ROI of 353%. In other words, businesses get about $4.53 back for every dollar they spend on training. eLearning enhances traditional retail training by providing more engaging educational content and advanced progress tracking tools. It also brings training closer to salespeople: they don’t have to leave their workplaces and keep potential customers waiting to sit through a lecture. All educational materials are available 24/7 on any device.

Apart from the general benefit eLearning provides companies, it solves specific sales productivity issues. Let’s see how:


Sales-specific Online Courses

Online courses form the foundation for any online corporate training. To create them, companies use SCORM authoring tools. These tools come with different options: some of them offer sales-specific features, others don’t; some fit only large enterprises with a team of experienced eLearning specialists, while others are easy to use and can be utilized at full capacity, even by beginners.


Dialogue simulations – Dialogue simulations are probably the most important feature for online sales training. It helps you solve the issue of salespeople preferring to learn through trial and error. As we all know, errare humanum est, and nothing teaches you better than your own mistakes. With dialogue simulations, salespeople are free to make as many mistakes as they need – but without damaging their company’s bottom line.

You can recreate real-life customer communication in a digital world and let salespeople train their people skills and selling strategies. A customer satisfaction scale and character emotions will help trainees understand if what they’re doing is appropriate or not. The result will be either a successful sale or a lost client – just like in real life.

You can also add comments or create more scenarios if you want your sales team to understand that sometimes it’s not enough to sell a product. Overly aggressive “hard sell” strategies might not be the best option in some cases, as they can negatively affect the image of your company. You can help employees realize all of this during dialogue simulations.


Screencasts – Screencasts are the most understandable way to learn new technologies thus far. Whenever people struggle to use applications or software, they tend to go to YouTube to find a tutorial on this matter. Videos themselves have become one of the most popular ways to acquire new knowledge. According to recent research, 69% of people prefer this content format to articles, infographics, and others. And as opposed to conferring with colleagues repeatedly on the same information, employees can watch screencasts multiple times Without irritating anyone.

Some authoring tools have a built-in advanced video studio that allows you to record your screen, camera picture only (for video lectures), or both screen and camera. You can find multiple low-quality videos on YouTube with a hardly decipherable voice-over and an invisible mouse cursor clicking different buttons soundlessly. Such a screencast won’t help your sales team grab hold of a CRM or your digital product.

However, an authoring tool allows you to record in HD, customize the cursor image, and add system sounds, voice-overs, audio, texts, and more. Think of it as the difference between a low-budget movie and a multi-million-dollar blockbuster. The difference in the look and feel will be the same, but fortunately, course development software will cost far less than the movie.


Assessments – Assessing how well a trainee has acquired new knowledge and skills is a mandatory part of any educational program. But traditional tests can be pretty stressful. Some adults are still scared of this process, even dozens of years after leaving school or graduating from university. So, forcing them to take such tests might result in employees simply memorizing the answers, cheating, and developing a negative relationship to training in general. In the case of a sales team, this means maintaining low sales productivity or sales even decreasing further.

With eLearning, you can prevent such situations. Instead of providing trainees with boring formal tests, you can build interactive, engaging assessments that entertain and interest employees. We’ve already mentioned one way of assessing salespeople’s skills – a dialogue simulation. But retail training isn’t limited to customer communication. You will also need other training programs, such as onboarding and product training. With an authoring tool, you can create quizzes with questions, in which salespeople need to drag different objects on their screen, click on spots, arrange elements in a specific order, and more.


Training management

If you currently conduct face-to-face sales training at your company, you may have run into the problem that it’s pretty difficult to track the actual progress of a particular salesperson or an entire sales team. The only way to do this is to interview every salesperson, write down their replies, collect all the information, and analyze it. This process is extremely time-consuming and exhausting. eLearning, on the other hand, makes it simple.

A learning management system (LMS) is a training management tool that, to put it simply, does all the hard routine work for you. It’s a platform that stores all your online training materials, such as online courses and video lectures, and automates all management processes. For example, an LMS can automatically assign new hires to an onboarding course, remind them of the due date for completing it, collect analytical data on their training progress, and provide you with real-time reports.

Reports will help you find the parts of your training programs that need improvement and give a clear picture of what each employee knows and can and can’t do. This information will help you analyze reasons for a salesperson’s low productivity and assign required courses to fill the gaps.



Finally, eLearning allows you to engage your salespeople by implementing gamification in the training process. Competition is one of the pillars of a successful sales team. With some LMSs, you can set how many points a trainee receives for completed tasks and programs.

All employees take places on the leaderboard according to the overall number of points they earned. They can also get badges and certificates of completion created automatically by the LMS. Gamification in retail training motivates trainees to learn more and better, enhancing their knowledge, skills, and performance.


Final thoughts

eLearning can help you solve common issues of sales teams, such as a lack of people skills, poor technological know-how, and a risky learning process using the trial-and-error approach for selling company products. Unlike traditional corporate training, eLearning provides more engaging and interactive ways of delivering training and is more accessible for trainees. All of these factors give you a much greater chance of achieving your training goals and objectives.

The 20/60/20 rule is not that easy to break. But eLearning doesn’t really aim to break it – it’s designed to take your sales team to the next level, at which you will still have 20% of the most effective salespeople, 60% of the average, and 20% of the least effective employees.

Yet, the difference will be that 60% of your sales team will be now at the level of the former best salespeople, while the best ones will scale the new heights. That’s how a successful business develops. The foundation of any development has always been learning. eLearning just makes it faster, easier, and more effective.


Helen Colman is an editor and content strategist at iSpring eLearning software. She enjoys combining in-depth research with expert knowledge of the eLearning industry.


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