One thing I keep on hearing time and time again in my role at Refract from managers is the phrase – “I’m not a scalable resource” In fact, I would say this is one of the most common pain points I come across in my daily prospecting calls and sales demonstrations. The reality is, the size of teams managers are looking after is all the time on the increase. For example – the average number of reps in a software sales team has risen by 20% over the past five years.
Clearly, growth of this ilk (whilst very common in successful and ambitious companies) throws up challenges of maintaining a scalable and cost effective means of training staff. It’s all good and well adding heads to a team to strive for bigger revenue targets, or higher levels of customer service – but without the necessary tools and technology to make sure that team performs to their full potential, its simply a flawed exercise. Add to the mix the case of national or even global multi-location organisations particularly in the hospitality, construction or hair and beauty industries –this problem simply becomes unmanageable to tackle with a limited group of trainers.
One specific example of where this challenge was particularly highlighted happened a couple of weeks ago. I met with the Sales Director of a well known UK hotel brand, who was looking to find ways and means of on-boarding his field based sales team, without having to spend huge amounts of time out on the road training and coaching them one-to-one. Their current approach to doing so was face to face training, i.e. gathering all their reps into a training room as-hoc times during the year or immediately after a big hiring drive. They identified that this process was not only expensive from a time and travel perspective, but this approach was hard to measure, inconsistent, and had the typical challenges of absentees and disengaged ‘millennial learners’. Exploring this deeper with the prospect – face to face training simply didn’t give the brand the flexibility to educate employees regularly enough on new products, offers, or ways of selling.
The opportunities and benefits within online learning via eLearning and coaching, span far and wide past those gained from being sat in a classroom. One argument posed for face-to-face training is that it holds the personalised human touch, which cannot be achieved through online means. Whilst this is largely true, we are seeing a blended learning approach taken by organisations with online learning which is offered by companies such as eLamb. A blended learning approach can increase personalisation and strengthen the connection between managers and employees. One example of this is embracing the concept of sharing best practice and collaboration. As a new employee heading into a role, which is centred around sales, service or compliance what better way to learn then to get on demand examples of how current top performers in the company do things? Whether this be in the form eLearning, watching example videos of high calibre team members, or collaborating with more experienced members of staff during the induction process, companies can marry up their own people with an individual online learning journey.
To consider this further, what benefits would it bring to a multi-site company to showcase performance of staff in other branches? Why wouldn’t you want to showcase the capabilities or knowledge of your highest performing location to the entire workforce in order to set a benchmark or expectation? To do so without technology would be incredibly difficult –if not impossible. When are you going to make your staff development capabilities more scalable?
Guest post by Richard Smith, Head of Sales for Refract – sales coaching and feedback technology