Every sales trainer needs to have an effective digital strategy for reaching and training their workforce. In the sales segment, this is even more important, because every day that salespeople physically spend away from the field being trained, means another day that sales are not being done. So, reaching them through digital means can ensure that they are focused on what matters to the organization – generating business.
Most sales training follows a blend – a combination of classroom training, mentoring & coaching and digital learning. If you already have a mobile learning strategy in place, then your digital strategy can be delivered right into the hands of your learner. Earlier, the blend of 70:20:10 between these strategies was recommended, however, because modern audiences are much more digitally savvy, this blend has been moving more towards 50:20:30. This means 30% of your workforce’s learning hours will be spent on digital learning that you need to put out.
Is that a terrifying thought? It shouldn’t be! Let us
take you through these simple 5 steps to kickstart your digital sales training
Find a digital delivery platform – A good digital delivery platform is half the battle in your digital strategy. Look online and you can find some pretty exciting platforms that can help you rocket your digital strategy to the stratosphere. The criteria you need to be judging them on are the mobile experience they offer, how easy it is to update and put out your content and how data gets tracked. Check out Docebo, QuoDeck, Grovo, and Litmos.
Collate your existing content to get started – You don’t need to create content from scratch to launch your digital strategy. Get started with your presentations, documents, existing videos and even audio podcasts and put them out on your digital platform. You can create as you go along, but to begin with, your existing material should power your first month of learning, so that you can focus on driving consumption.
Launch with a mandatory program – The most important milestone when you launch your app is getting your learners to download it. It’s always a good idea to start with a mandatory test or course that your learners are required to go through. Remember to launch with content beyond your first course, so that if learners finish the course and want to go through something else, there is content for them to consume.
Fresh content every day – Make sure that you have something fresh to send out every day on your platform. Even if it just a quick 5-question quiz or a nugget of information in the form of a social post, make sure that there is activity on your platform every day. If you can keep this up long enough that your learners get into the habit of checking into the platform every day, you are home free.
Track data to understand what your learners like – Your digital platform can give you data on what your learners are consuming more of. Track the kind of courses or media that are most popular. You can figure this out by checking two data points – the amount of time spent and consumption levels across your learner base. If any of your learners like this kind of content and they spend a lot of time on it, it’s a good sign that you should do more of it.
Once you’ve kick-started your digital strategy, and gained some momentum, start leveraging your digital platform’s content creation tools to put out more interactive content like games and story-based courses.
Micro-learning is learning presented as short and focused
nuggets of content. Content can be in multiple forms including text, images,
videos, etc. Micro-learning presents only as much content as required for
learners to achieve a specific learning outcome. With today’s workforce
comprising of Generation Z and millennials, it is particularly valuable in
The training that your learners experience, whether in the
form of workshops, ILTs or online courses on your LMS, are mostly long-form. As
a result, learner gratification usually happens only once on course/workshop
completion. Also, because the attention span of the audience you talk to is
short, as little as 5 minutes, their interest in long online courses often
wavers causing understanding and retention to suffer.
With the help of micro-learning nuggets, you can attack both
these problems. These provide gratification in shorter intervals and prevent
learner demotivation. Also, since their length is usually kept below 5 minutes,
learner attention does not waver either.
Apart from just solving problems for the learner community,
micro-learning offers multiple benefits to individuals who own learning or
training of teams.
a. Just-in-time learning
Micro-learning can be accessed on mobile phones, LMS
permitting, without using up too much data. With content being available on their
handiest device, your learners can access it on-demand. These micro-learning
online courses can thus act as ready reckoners and prove helpful on the job.
Millennials needs more autonomy than any other generation. Allowing
them to consume relevant content, as and when they choose to, drives motivation
as well as interest. Additionally, this gives them the feeling that they can
chart their own learning paths. Learners thus apply their learning in their
daily lives and often look for content that they can consume. This reduces the
pressure on learning managers as content does not need to be pushed as much as
c. Varied forms of learning
Micro-learning principles demand concise and to-the-point
information nuggets with focused and compact objectives. Using various forms such
as games, videos, infographics, eLearning and m-learning, it can help create
specific content with effective training outputs. Along with this,
micro-learning content also helps achieve content interactivity and learner
d. Advantageous for small teams
Micro-learning offers key advantages to small teams, groups
or departments. Given their small size, setting up a micro-learning mobile app is
easy and affordable. This can be used for achieving smaller but important
milestones that a department may have set for itself.
When should you use micro-learning?
It is important to consider two aspects while applying
micro-learning strategies – business aspect and learner needs.
Here are some things to consider while using micro-learning:
a. What technology will you use?
Micro-learning’s success largely depends on how easy it is
to access. If a learner cannot easily and quickly find content that she is
looking for, it is likely that they will not spend any effort to access it
again. Not all LMSes handle micro-learning well. It is important that your LMS
deploys these courses easily and tag the learners to help them find what they
need. The LMS needs to be accessible on mobile as well.
b. Who are your learners?
It is crucial that you know your learner profile before you
design a micro-learning course. While micro-learning can be effective across
all generations, younger learners or learners who are more technologically
savvy may be more comfortable using these than those who do not use digital
To conclude, micro-learning is the best learning strategy for the Gen Z and millennial workforce. Not only can it be engaging and effective, with the right approach to creation, it can be entertaining too.
Teachers and professors who are
talking to Generation Z students in their classroom, cannot afford to only
depend on conventional pedagogy. They must incorporate eLearning and mobile
learning into their curriculum to ensure learner engagement and retention. It
is important to note that instructional design principles for these new-age
teaching techniques may be slightly different from what is conventionally used.
If you are not well acquainted with these principles already, here is a list of instructional design principles that you can use when setting up your eLearning courses.
Your content should be structured such
that it is interactive and requires learner participation. Methods to do so
storytelling in your content. Quests, treasure hunts and journey of a hero are
some examples of stories that are simple and yet, engaging
content with questions that act as knowledge checks as well as those that seek
the learners’ opinions
interactive content templates that reward the learner for an action that he takes.
For example, make learners click on an image to learn more on what the image
relief through the usage of image-based content or videos. Ensure you include
videos of about 5-7 minutes in every hour of content you put out. Use visuals
in every 1 of 3 slides.
If your LMS offers the use of forums or social learning, make sure you facilitate their usage.
Principle 2: Provide learners with a clear set of objectives that the course will meet
Imagine playing soccer without a clear
goalpost or basketball without a hoop. Ridiculous, right? People respond better
when they are aware of the end-goal that they are looking to reach. Once you
provide objectives to your online course, the learner becomes aware of where
she is and how far she needs to go to meet them.
Things to do to provide objectives
Before providing any instructions, define what the course/ module will achieve and what topics and sub-topics it will cover
Do not forget to mention why the course topic is important and how students can apply learnings
Clearly put down what the minimum required performance for the online course is. This will include the percentage of content slides that need to be consumed and the minimum score that the learner must get in the assessment associated with the online course/module
Principle 3: Stimulate recall of prior learning
Help students comprehend new
information by relating it to something they already know or that they have
Methods for stimulating recall
Use anecdotes that help create analogies between what is being taught in the course and real-life scenarios
Ask questions to remind users of things they know where they use the concepts being taught. For example, when teaching Newton’s third law, show a visual of things hitting each other and moving back and ask learners why they think this is happening
Ask students questions that assess their understanding of previous concepts. In this case, if a learner is unable to answer a question correctly, she will tend to go back and brush up on her knowledge
Principle 4: Present the content in logical consumable blocks
Use strategies to present and cue
lesson content to provide more effective, efficient instruction. Organize and
chunk content in a meaningful way. Provide explanations after demonstrations.
Things to make content logical and consumable include:
Follow a simple pattern for content presentation – Definition, Description, Explanation and Evaluation. To explain any concept in eLearning this 4-step process works very well. You may sometimes choose to play around with this flow but always include all 4 steps.
Before getting into detailed understanding of content, include an index of key terms. This will help your learner comprehend the content better
Use examples generously to facilitate better understanding and retention
Present multiple versions of the same content. You can bolster concepts covered in decks using video, reference documents, interactive content, voice over media, etc. This addresses different learning preferences for different learners
Principle 5: Provide feedback
Provide immediate feedback of
students’ performance to assess and facilitate eLearning.
Types of feedback include:
feedback – Informs students they had done what were supposed to do. For
example, you could thank them for answering a survey question
and remedial feedback – Informs students of the accuracy of their response to
something. For example, informing them that they had answered a question
feedback – Directs students in the right direction to find the correct answer
but does not provide the correct answer
Analytical feedback – Provides the student with suggestions, recommendations, and information for them to correct their performance
Principle 6: Assess performance
In order to evaluate the effectiveness
of the instructional events, you must test to see if the expected learning
outcomes have been achieved. Performance should be based on objectives that
have previously been stated.
Methods for testing learning include:
baselining exercise with a pre-test before exposing the learning content.
final assessment at the end of the online course. The average score on this
will be higher, for well-presented and consumed content, than the average
pre-test score. This score can also be looked at on a stand-alone basis to
assess the student’s mastery of the subject
questions in the content through individual questions or small quizzes
objective or criterion-referenced performances which measure how well a student
has learned or understood a topic
normative-referenced performances which compares one student to another student
Principle 7: Enhance retention
To help learners develop expertise,
they must internalize new knowledge.
One of the major challenges HR and L&D professionals face is getting the employees to get interested in the learning programs. Games or rather game-based learning can help here. This article will focus on how a company can market its so-called boring learning programs and make them interesting.
So, the solution here is not just creating the most engaging course ever, but also making it sound like it is as interesting as the next iPhone or the next Avengers movie.
Now imagine these 2 scenarios:
Scenario 1: You’re standing in a meeting room and you say this—Raise your hands if you want to go through my next eLearning course!
Scenario 2: You’re standing in a meeting room and you say this—Raise your hands if you want to play my next learning game!
Which announcement would generate more curiosity? A game would definitely have the upper hand. As a planet, we play 3 billion hours of games every week. Why not use this to transform your training program into the next iPhone!
Games As A Medium For Marketing
Games have been used for marketing for years now. Go to the Play Store and search for ‘Justice League games’ and you will know what I am talking about. Games are exciting, competitive, and provide an immersive experience.
The first thing you should do is move to game-based learning. Stop thinking about your course in terms of a presentation with images and tabs. Think of it as a game, where the learner must find the hidden treasure or kill the demon, and the learning content will help him achieve this objective. Add a storyline and let the assessments appear in the form of learning games. Now you have an engaging and exciting game-based learning course ready. Is that all? Target achieved? Not at all. This is just the beginning.
Think Like A Marketer
Stop thinking about your course as a learning manager and start thinking like a marketer. You’re no longer marketing a course, but an exciting game. Get your marketing department involved as well. How would you go about it? Plan your marketing campaigns in 2 phases:
Phase I – Pre-Launch Campaigns
Start with a teaser campaign with catchy copy, like ‘The Lost Treasure. Coming soon!’. Send out emailers or put out posters with cryptic messaging. Plan this for a week or two before your course launch and start attracting eyeballs. Make sure you use game-related visuals or theme to put this out. They have to connect back to your game so your audience can relate to it when you reveal your course.
Have you seen these short videos featuring the characters from the popular game—Clash of Clans? Here’s one of them. These entertain you and generate curiosity about the game. Create short videos like this and share with your employees. These will help you with the much-needed virality. You don’t have to create rich animated videos like this, but you can create simple ones. There are a lot of tools out there which can help you get these created or one of your training partners can help you with this.
A lot of products offer samples to provide a first-hand experience to the customers. It is one of the most effective strategies. Create a quick learning game which you have used in your course and plan out a quiz contest using the same. Reward the top players with vouchers or certificates to encourage word-of-mouth publicity. Plan this as a trailer and inform your players to watch out for the larger game.
Phase II – Post-Launch Campaigns
Leaderboards And Rewards
Once your learners start playing your course, monitor it, and look out for the early adopters. These are the first ones to access your course. Reward them for this feat. Do create a leaderboard featuring the top 5 or 10 players. Share this within the organization to recognize the top players.
Have you ever bought a happy meal from McDonald’s? Remember the free toy which you got? It is one of the major reasons why people buy a happy meal. Giveaways have a huge recall value and do encourage virality. See if you could plan for a small giveaway, like a keychain or coaster which features one of the characters from the game.
Remember, just because you have put a lot of effort to create the best eLearning course, does not mean others would be interested in it as well. You have to communicate it in a way which your audience would find it interesting. So, put your marketing hat on and get started!
Ask most learners, and they will say that they don’t
consume eLearning because it is snooze-worthy. Most e-learning is boring, not
because trainers set out to make it that way, but because it’s not really built
to appeal. Today’s audience is more fussy, discerning and can see through
almost every learning gimmick that is thrown their way. In such a scenario, how
does one appeal to modern learners?
If you’re training a modern workforce, then they are
comprised increasingly of Generation Z and millennials, groups that were born
into a digital world. These consumers have a glut of digital content, and in as
many formats as they want. Content, on a topic that excites their curiosity, is
a few clicks or just a search away. There are even apps that serve up a
constant stream of entertainment just to ensure consumers can entertain
themselves in the few moments that they are ‘bored’.
Smartphone users spend an average of 4 hours a day on their devices, but not on your content To be able to address the problem, let’s try and understand your audience. Estimates put usage of mobile phones among modern audiences at an average of 4 hours per day (eMarketer Research). The challenge you have is stealing mindshare from apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest etc., where users spend close to 80-90% of their time, with the rest spent emailing, texting and using WhatsApp largely.
Your learners need a compelling reason to move away
from these platforms and spend time on your online courses, even if these do
benefit them ultimately.
So, what are some of the common mistakes that
trainers make with eLearning content, that puts off their learners? How can you
give learning a compelling reason to consume your content?
courses do not work anymore
The world has moved to consuming short-form content or microlearning content. Consumer research has shown that 55% internet users read a long-form post or content for less than 15 seconds.
Anything beyond 15 mins and your learner’s attention
has wandered to thinking about the latest picture on Instagram or the latest
post on Facebook.
Our suggestion: Break your existing content into short nuggets, more in the form of “Did you know?” or “7 ways to make a great sale” to make them appealing to your audience.
Zero to no
interactivity puts off learners
Users today need interactivity to keep them engaged. If your content is not interactive and only requires your learner to click the ‘next’ button periodically, then you will lose them very quickly. Ensuring that at least 30% (or 1 in 3 screens) are interactive, is a start to keeping your learner engaged. Interspersing content with games and interactive titbits will not only keep learners talking to your content but will also increase retention.
suggestion: Insert a question format every third
screen quizzing your learners on what they just learnt.
Consumers are being engaged across multiple senses
today. With the advent of video, just text and visual content does not appeal
as much. Therefore, your eLearning content must be peppered with multi-media
formats, such as audio, videos, games, etc. Even simple podcasts with a static
image will hold learner attention better than plain text. We know it’s
expensive to create media-rich content, but there are a lot of tools out there
that will allow you to do this for a fraction of eLearning content creation
suggestion: YouTube has a lot of free content on
various topics. Find short videos that can benefit your learner and include links
to these videos in your eLearning content. You can even record 1-minute audio
clips and upload them. These can improve your learner’s experience using these
contribution makes for a ‘switched-off’ learner
The world has become a lot more digitally social than
before. Consumers engage most when they are asked to contribute to an experience.
Reflect to when you obsessively checked your latest post to see the likes,
shares and comments it generated. However, most trainers ‘talk at’ the learners
rather than have a dialogue with them.
Our suggestion: Have a survey at the end of every course that takes feedback for things like process changes, the online course itself, organization survey, etc. This will provide your learners with a voice.
In functions such as Sales or Customer support, outsourced, off-roll employees constitute a significant portion of the workforce. In addition, L&D managers are faced with high attrition rates and constant changes in the products and regulations. The following tips will help you maximize the ROI on the training.
Go Mobile: It is financially unviable to provide desktop training to a distributed or off-roll workforce. Mobile & Tablet browser/App based training platforms, will eliminate the cost of conducting the training at any physical location and allow the employees to complete the course on-the-go. Create courses that are mobile friendly.
Keep things simple: Create courses and journey that are easy to navigate and operate under low bandwidth conditions. You want to reduce queries regarding Content or the System, given the sheer volume and geographical spread of your users.
Use SaaS LMS: SaaS LMS are the best tools for training your employees at an affordable cost. They can be deployed across most devices and operating systems. They are hosted by the product creator on cloud, hence do not require any infrastructure spend or extensive IT Security approvals, allowing your user to access the platform at her convenience.
The complexity of these games varies widely. You can set up an entire business ecosystem with competitors, lenders, shareholders and customers, simulation of customer negotiation & Objection handling or in simulating Lab results for R&R.
These are best suited for organizations, where product, compliance and regulatory training must be imparted continuously. These games have a high ROI due to their simplicity, low cost of deployment, ease of embedding new content and use of existing infrastructure such as desktop/mobile devices
Micro-learning online courses have been easily accepted by today’s millennial workforce. There are no large chunks of content to process, and it facilitates learning rather than imposing it on the learner.
To make these online courses more effective, these can be structured using one of four types of navigation systems – Course, Reference, Social and Game. Let us look at each of these in a little more detail.
This is the
traditional flow of learning management systems. The material is broken down
into modules that are typically accessed sequentially. The content escalates
progressively in complexity or the depth of the knowledge that is being
disseminated. Modules are generally released over a period with regular
intervals, and a break in the sequence would make the learning difficult to
When to use this navigation
format of navigation is typically used when depth of learning in a subject is
Disadvantages of this navigation
The main disadvantage of this form of navigation is that it is designed for an academic pedagogy and doesn’t relate well to modern adult learning principles. As an example, for a micro-learning system that is being designed to train a sales team with both absolute rookies and sales veterans, the content must start with the basics of sales to cater to rookies. Sales veterans would find this initial content redundant and repetitive. Their interest in the course may wane even before they’ve even parts that are relevant to them. In the course-based format, they have no option but to plough through the initial content to get to the material that is truly relevant to them. A lot of interest loss in e-learning content happens due to this.
2. Reference Navigation
This takes a
library-style approach. In this format, the learning happens because the
learner is looking to learn. When the learner wants an answer to a specific
question or explanation of a concept, he accesses the material organized as a
collection of information nuggets with a well-structured searching system.
When to use this navigation
This format of
navigation is best used when the learning system needs to be structured with a
knowledge management approach. It is particularly applicable when there are
frequent updates to the eLearning content. For example, if the organization is
in an industry which is highly regulated, like banking or aviation, such a
navigation style is good to have as it provides ready reference material.
Disadvantages of this navigation
The main disadvantage of the reference navigation approach is that learners must know what they need to learn before they can search for it. A lot of critical learning might fall through the cracks as a result. As an example, assume the learning management system deals with compliance training in a bank, and a new regulation prohibiting the opening of a certain type of account is released. An employee who does not know about the birthing of this regulation will not become aware of it, simply because he/she does not know to search for it. Reference Navigation based systems require strong notification mechanisms to handle this disadvantage.
3. Social Navigation
This is a navigation style based on Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1971). According to this theory, learning is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context and can occur purely through observation or direct instruction, even in the absence of motor reproduction or direct reinforcement. In addition to the observation of behavior, learning also occurs through the observation of rewards and punishments, a process known as vicarious reinforcement. This is a knowledge management approach to eLearning design. The learners themselves participate alongside teachers in creating and growing the eLearning material.
When to use this navigation
A classic case
of this approach is a forum where questions are debated and answered by the
participants, or there’s a panel of experts who answer questions shared by participants.
The now omnipresent mechanics of likes, comments and shares have created an
environment where this has emerged as a powerful learning navigation method.
Wikipedia, Quora and Stack Overflow are prime examples of effective social
learning on a grand scale.
Disadvantages of this navigation
The main disadvantage of this approach comes from its over-reliance on participation for content creation. In an organizational setting, driving users to participate in the learning system is a difficult problem. Gamification mechanics of points, badges, leaderboards, and rewards can be used to help the cause, but designing such a gamification system requires experts, who can be expensive and difficult to find.
4. Game Navigation
style, also known as game-based learning, is unique to the micro-learning approach.
In this style of navigation, the learner engages with the learning management system
with the intention to play a game and any learning that happens is through the
game and incidental. The learning structure in the game can span the spectrum
of complexity, ranging from simple constructs like in-game quizzes and exercises
to more complex formats like story-telling and learning through the game-play
The best example
of this style, in our opinion, is the Sid Meier’s Civilization series of games.
All titles in the series share similar gameplay, centred on building a
civilization on a macro-scale from prehistory up to the near future. As of
February 2016, the series has reached 33 million total units shipped. While the
game is designed for entertainment, it provides strong insights into history,
economics, political science and ecology, teaching players at a conceptual
level what these evolved concepts truly signify for a society.
This method of
micro-learning falls within the space of Serious Games. Serious games are
simulations of real-world events or processes designed for the purpose of
solving a problem. Serious games can be entertaining; however, their main
purpose is to train or educate users. Serious games may also be used for other
purposes, such as marketing or advertisement.
In fact, often a
serious game will deliberately sacrifice fun and entertainment in order to
achieve a desired progress by the player.
When to use this navigation
Given the buzz
of game-based learning and gamification which started a decade ago, this navigation
can be used and has been used across different types of learning, from employee
induction to even more serious topics like compliance training. Engaging
storylines and gameplay have proved effective in communicating learning concepts
in an engaging and playful manner.
A word of
caution: Avoid using this navigation for sensitive topics like POSH training or
Gender Sensitization, as it may not go down well with your stakeholders as well
as the audience.
Disadvantages of this navigation
The main disadvantage of game-based learning for learning lies in its very name. Games are often seen as non-serious, and therefore, meet with resistance from organizational decision makers. Also, the complexity of serious games need to maintain a very careful balance of challenge and simplicity to be effective. Creating effective microlearning games, therefore, does require game designers, apart from the technology, which can prove to be expensive.
Gamification is one of the most effective ways of imparting learning to your employees. Standard gamification features include setting up a game like structure, creating leaderboards, offering rewards, badges & certificates, and making it mobile. The following key tenets are routinely overlooked, when using gamification, leading to suboptimal results.
Create an interesting storyline: There is a reason why the best games, apart from having great visuals, have the most interesting storylines. Take your audience through a journey, get them excited to move to the next level. Design all your courses, assessments, and rewards based on the storyline. If you can add mystery and adventure to the fray, you have a winner!
Provide a mix of individual and team competition: Most gamified learning journeys offer only one of the two. As social beings, people love competing in groups and helping each other. However, the need to shine as individuals remains. Design assessments that reward top teams and top performers.
Decide the deliverable of the gamification: This cannot be emphasized enough. Do you want your employees to have fun, compete or create buzz? Is learning more important or competition? These need to be considered while gamifying your eLearning course.
eLearning is like the proverbial Prometheus’ Fire. It will deliver great good for your employees, improve engagement and increase knowledge assimilation. As an L&D leader, you should avoid the following mistakes to help maximize its effectiveness.
traditional offline or using existing traditional content: Traditional
content such as long videos, lengthy documents and classroom training
techniques are not symbiotic with eLearning. Content will have to be created
and designed to be engaging, and interactive.
creating mobile friendly courses: While this is a must for on field sales force,
it is important to roll out mlearning for all employees. Employees spend a lot
of time on their mobiles and it is imperative to make learning as informal and
accessible as possible, even outside the work place.
effective assessment tools: Putting out the most engaging and interesting
course, with no way to assess your learners, is a waste of your and the
learners’ time. Put out quizzes and exams for each section, and the entire
course. These tests should be short and fun. Use Images, videos and blurbs as
part of the assessment to improve engagement.
mechanism for the learner: Learning
is a two-way street, the higher the engagement with the learner, the more the
learning. One of the primary reasons for drop-off in engagement is the lack of
an effective feedback mechanism for the learner to express her views on the
course. Listen to what your audience is saying and act on them.
objectives: Why have you set this course up, what do you want your audience
to gather, is this course to increase knowledge, boost productivity or develop objection
handling skills? If you are unclear of the outcome of the course, your learner
will be even more unclear. Lay down objectives at the beginning and design the
course to fulfill these objectives. Gather feedback and conduct assessments at
regular intervals to modify the course.
and complicated UI/UX: So, you deployed the latest and most expensive
Learning Management System (LMS) in town, but the adoption rates are low and
dropping. This might be because its to complicated to navigate. Always approach
eLearning from the learners’ point of view, not the creators. The simpler and more intuitive the UI, the
better the chances of learners engaging with it.