Why Video is the Missing Ingredient in your Sales Training Plan

video enterprise sales learning

As an industry, sales training has relied on a mixed bag of the same tricks – kickoff, webinars, sell sheets, roleplay, etc – each designed to promote learning and more effective selling.

Yet, into the 21st century, the facts remain stunning: according to a recent survey by Corporate Visions, only 41% of companies ask their reps to practice skills and messaging, and 34% say no one is responsible for coaching and certifying rep proficiency. The lack of a more robust training process results in the same set of outcomes that we’ve experienced for centuries: not enough reps meet quota, company goals are missed, and attrition rates remain high.

What Makes Video Different?

The way a rep learns varies from individual to individual, with no clear learning path that an organization can set. That means that sales leaders and trainers need a captivating and adaptive method to offer the least resistance to training for the most people.

Video differs from in-person learning or static content by offering a visual package that the viewer can interact with. In sales training, gaining a bigger share of a rep’s attention and focus pays immediate dividends, with the message sticking more often. Research by Brainshark suggests that “seeing and hearing messages increases audience retention by 3-6 times” versus traditional methods, boosting the viewer’s engagement and comprehension.

Video can be easily updated and highly reusable, making it easier for the training organization to revitalize content and deploy it across the team without a large lift.

Adding video to your sales training toolkit can help reps of all learning styles actually absorb and apply the right skills, messages, and behaviors in the marketplace.

How to Use Video

According to the above research by Corporate Visions, only 9% of sales teams are using video to engage their reps in practice. The progressive teams relying heavily on this medium, including Corporate Visions, have found some early data that suggests best practices for video.

At the end of 2014, CommercialTribe pooled its usage data and developed The Activation Hypothesis, an analysis of a year’s worth of videos, practice sessions, and interactions. While limited in its scope and size, the research suggested several key criteria to help plan a video-based practice program.

1. Keep videos short: 2-3 minutes

Our data found that reps lost interest in videos that lasted more than 4 minutes. Presenting a lot of content at once makes video content hard to digest in one sitting. Keeping videos short means more engaged reps and makes content updates easier to execute.

2. Aim for 3-5 review sessions per video

While reps in CommercialTribe practice best-in-class scenarios as part of their training program, many organizations are still just delivering one-way video for reps to watch. In either case, the same data holds true – reps need multiple views to truly absorb and apply the content. Give reps ample opportunities to dive back into videos, and measure how many times they review the content. If they are reviewing at least 3 times (assuming your videos are short), chances are high that reps are learning. The long-term results are also clear: reps feel more in control of their own learning.

3. Create opportunities for application

The ultimate test is always what are reps doing with this information: do they actually bring it into their customer conversations? Measuring this can be tricky. Tracking interactions in salesforce.com can demonstrate the type of conversations reps are having, but you can’t hear what they say on each call. Having reps practice what they will do differently is the best way to gain insight into whether behavioral change has taken place or not.

Why Not Just Video?

While video offers the most cost-effective and scalable medium for training, it is not a full replacement for your training program. Successful sales training relies on a blended approach to learning and must be reinforced by sales leadership.

A comprehensive program uses video to be more accessible but continues to use traditional, classroom-based learning, roleplay, and joint travel sporadically. The result is a program that is pervasive, reinforced, and effective. Though most reps from the YouTube generation will respond strongly to video, it may not appeal to hands-on or literary learners, who could end up absorbing less.

Creating ample opportunities for learning, with a wide variety of opportunities to consume and apply, offers the best chance for reps to adopt and apply the right skills, messages, and behaviors.

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