Increasing Sales Productivity Part 2: How mobile learning increases sales reps’ effectiveness

This is the second post in our six-part series on using mobile and social learning to increase sales productivity.

Sales productivity is often a race against time, a balance between the time it takes a rep to reach full productivity vs the short tenure of most sales reps before they move on to other jobs.

In our last post, we looked at how mobile and social learning speeds ramp up by meeting Millennial learning needs. In this post, we’ll look at how social learning technology can help to tip that balance in your favor by speeding ramp up and making the onboarding process more efficient, engaging and effective.

Use technology to speed ramp up

Millennials love technology – especially their smart phones.

According to a study by Zogby Analytics on Millennial smart phone usage:

  • 87% of Millennials say that their smart phone never leaves their side.
  • 80% say that the first thing they do in the morning is reach for their smart phone.
  • 91% say having a camera function on their smart phone is important and 87% use it at least one a week – with more than a third (37%) using it daily. More than three in four (76%) who use the camera do so to post pictures and videos on social media.

Millennials’ love affair with their smart phones is good news for smart employers who can transform those mobile devices into a powerful platform for onboarding and cutting ramp-up time.

Mobile-centric, social learning platforms like SkillFitness offer several ways to leverage technology to speed ramp-up time.

  • The platform is designed to teach people – especially Millennials  – in the way they want to learn…and learn best. Participants watch short videos focused on specific skills or best practices on their mobile devices; practice and record a video “selfie” of themselves demonstrating the skill; and then share the selfie video with peers and coaches or managers for evaluation, feedback, motivation and reward points. The platform seamlessly combines the video learning, social feedback, manager and peer coaching, and continuous feedback that Millennials demand. The result is more effective, engaging and faster learning and ramp up.
  • Providing training on mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones allows reps to squeeze training into spare minutes in their already busy schedules. The convenience of anytime, anywhere learning increases time devoted to learning and decreases the time it takes for them to ramp up.
  • Trainers and managers can track participant participation, engagement and overall progress through built-in management dashboards. Their coach’s participation and quality of their feedback is also tracked.  It’s easy to spot who is or is not engaged and who will or will not ramp up in the targeted time period.

Incorporate training into daily activities and the sales process.

With ramp-up times spanning 6-12 months, it would be expensive and disruptive to bring new sales people together for multiple training and onboarding sessions.  Mobile learning apps like SkillFitness solve that problem by turning any mobile device into a powerful anytime, anywhere learning platform. But they also solve another problem: Studies show that reps tend to forget a majority of what they’ve learned from traditional training sessions (as much as 80%, according to some studies).   To prepare reps and keep them productive, training needs to be delivered and reinforced throughout the extended ramp up period and beyond.

The challenge is to develop training and onboarding programs that align with the rep’s day-to-day activities.  Reps are well-known as just-in-time learners, looking for information only when they need it and practicing their delivery in front of customers.  You can turn this to your advantage by putting your content in context with their sales process, providing the information the reps need when they need it at each step of the sales process.

On-demand, anytime, anywhere mobile learning removes scheduling from the equation. Reps can review talking points, value propositions, objection handling and other information when they need it – increasing engagement, keeping them on message, and skyrocketing retention.

Of course, the big question is “Does this work?”.  Edina Realty Title used SkillFitness to cut ramp up time for new title closers from four-to-five months to one week. That’s up to an 80% reduction in onboarding them.  Read the case study here.

Ramping up your new reps more quickly can have a major payoff when it comes to increasing sales productivity.  In our next post, we’ll look at how to increase their effectiveness once they are ramped up and fully ready to sell. 

Schedule your personal, one-on-one, online demo today!

Or contact us to learn more about SkillFitness.

Increasing Sales Productivity Part 1: Leveraging mobile learning to win the race against time

Increasing sales productivity is the number one challenge facing sales leaders.  In this six-part series, we’ll take a closer look at the challenge of increasing sale reps’ productivity and effectiveness and how mobile and social learning can help.

Sales productivity refers to the ability of a sales force to get results.

But often, results don’t come easily. According to research by the Bridge Group, sales productivity is the #1 daily challenge for 65% of B2B organizations.

At SkillFitness, we understand the challenges of sales productivity.  SkillFitness was founded by a team with deep knowledge of adult education and extensive experience in sales force management.  We built SkillFitness to “scratch our own itch” and utilize technology and adult learning techniques to help meet the challenges we’d faced managing national sales forces across a variety of industries.

In many ways the quest to improve sales productivity is a race against time. And as sales managers, time is not on our side.

The average turnover for sales reps – especially Millennial sales reps – is less than two years, according to the Sales Readiness Group.  The typical B2B organization invests 6-10 months in ramping a new sales hire up to speed.  That leaves the average sales rep with only 14-18 months to be fully productive. Otherwise, the result is too small a ROI on sales or even a negative return on a hire. Anything the sales organization can do to bring its reps up to speed faster – even by a few weeks – shifts the equation and ROI in the company’s favor.

So taken together, we’ve found there are three levers to pull to maximize sales productivity:

  • Improve the speed of ramping up new sales people
  • Increase the effectiveness of experienced sales people
  • Manage turnover to focus on retaining key contributors

In this series of blog posts, we’ll take a look at each of these levers in detail. Let’s start with how to improve the speed of ramping up new sales people.

Increasing Ramp Up Speed

We’ve seen the value equation of ramp-up time vs time of full performance is a major factor in sales force productivity. Anything an organization can do to bring its sales reps up to speed faster will change the value equation in the company’s favor.

Ramp up speed varies by individual, by company and by industry, but a good rule of thumb is:

Ramp Up Period = Length of Sales Cycle + 90 days

The bad news is that even in organizations with relatively short sales cycles, the typical ramp up time can be six months or more. It gets worse. A study by the Miller Heiman Group found that 65.2% of the participants reported that it took more than seven months to get a new hire fully productive while 28.8% of participants stated that it required a year or more.

There’s more bad news: You can’t just hire your way out of the problem.  When the Miller Heiman Group looked at the source for new sales personnel, they evaluated the performance of hiring sales people with experience in the same industry, experience in a different industry, or college graduates with no sales experience. They found that the average ramp-up time among these three groups was not significantly different.

A comprehensive onboarding program can cut ramp up time, insure long-term sales success and reduce turnover.  Research by the Sales Management Association has shown that a highly structured onboarding program results in a 10% greater sales growth rate and a 14% better sales and profit achievement.  Structured onboarding programs can cut 3.4 months from the average time-to-productivity for new-hire sales people and improve the average new salesperson’s ramp-up time to 5.7 from 9.1 months.

Here is the first of three tips for structuring your sales onboarding program for success.

Meeting Millennial learning needs

The Millennials (loosely defined as those born between 1980 and 1995) are the new majority in the American workplace. By 2020, Millennials are expected to comprise more than half of the global workforce.

If you are planning to hire new sales people over the next few years, chances are they will be a Millennial. As sales leaders, we will have to adjust our managerial styles if we are going to attract, train and retain this new Millennial sales force.

Millennials bring very different expectations to the workplace – especially in regards to training and workplace learning.  Traditional forms of onboarding – classroom orientation sessions, thick binders of new-hire information, and click-and-forget e-mail programs, won’t cut it with your Millennial new hires. In fact, according to a study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, only 6% of Millennials value classroom learning while only 5% value e-learning. They place working with strong coaches and mentors on top of the list of training and development opportunities they would most value from potential employers.

Millennials grew up using technology – video, mobile and social – and they expect employers to use these tools to communicate, share information and train.  They’ve grown used to instant connection and immediate responses to their social media posts and they want the same in the workplace. They value continuous feedback and coaching; a MTV survey showed that 80% of Millennials said they want regular feedback from managers and 75% want a mentor.

Given all of this, it’s easy to see why Millennials want to learn through:

  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Continuous feedback including awards, badges, points and praise
  • Clear communication of milestones and measurements
  • Social networking
  • Manager and peer-to-peer coaching and mentoring
  • Information presented on the mobile devices in small, bite-sized videos

Structure your onboarding program around these elements and you’ll go a long way towards ramping up your Millennial employees faster, making them more successful sooner, and retaining them longer.

For a detailed look at creating onboarding programs for Millennials, download the free SkillFitness e-book “Onboarding Millennials: The 3 ‘Must Have’ Strategies for Recruiting, Training and Retaining Great Millennial New Hires” at www.skillfitness.com/onboarding-millennials.

In our next post, we’ll look at how you can use mobile and social learning technology to speed ramp up, fit onboarding into already busy schedules, and make your onboarding process more relevant, engaging and effective. 

Schedule your personal, one-on-one, online demo today!

 

Or contact us to learn more about SkillFitness.

Creating standout sales training with SkillFitness

Sales training and consulting is a cluttered market and Dennis Neitz knew he needed a way to stand out from the crowd.

Neitz is a Brian Tracy Certified Sales Success Trainer – one of a handful of select sales coaches certified by well-known motivational speaker and author Brian Tracy to present his programs around the country.  He had been experimenting with using SkillFitness as a means of delivering follow-up coaching for attendees of his Brian Tracy stand-up seminars.  Now he felt he needed to take the next step by developing his own content and brand.

So he created the SalesFitness Tribe.

The SalesFitness Tribe combines some of the principles of traditional sales training with Neitz’s many years of experience as a sales consultant and more than 20 years of sales and sale management experience.

The program includes a two-day seminar followed by eight weeks of weekly coaching sessions using the SkillFitness platform.

Neitz said he created the new SalesFitness Tribe program to meet the unique demands of his clients: small-to-medium-sized businesses.

“I found that they often just has one or two people selling but needed to learn much more than just sales process or closing techniques.” Neitz said. “They needed to be able to identify their ideal client, learn how to generate their own leads, how to build a traffic-funnel and then how to do a better job of selling and following up. So I built the program around the whole marketing and selling process.”

Coaching using the SalesFitness platform is an important part of serving his clients, Neitz said.

‘Most of my clients may be the only sales person in the organization or they may be the owner and do most of the selling themselves,” Neitz said. “Once they leave the seminar, they wouldn’t have a sales manager or more experienced person to turn to for coaching.  We fill that gap using SkillFitness.”

Neitz said he had developed another use for the SkillFitness platform: helping other organizational leaders develop a plan and commit to helping make the new sales-oriented organization successful.  For example, Neitz worked with a country club to improve their banquet and event sales.  Along with the coaching sessions, he worked with the general manager, golf course manager, banquet manager and sales team to develop a 90-day play with three-to-five goals for achieving the plan.

“We call it ‘Feedback Friday’,” Neitz said. “We use the SkillFitness platform every Friday and have everyone report on their progress and make sure everyone is on the same page. Accountability is the key to driving goals.”

Neitz said that having people video their progress report and then share it with the team for feedback keeps everyone engaged and honest about their progress. Neitz also will help them work together to create new and updated 90-day goals throughout the year.

“I don’t just want to deliver information,” Neitz said. “I want people to transform. The need the basic information, then they need someone to work with them to develop the skills and a team to hold them accountable. That’s how you create real change.”

To learn more about Dennis Neitz and the SalesFitness Tribe, visit his website at www.salesfitnesstribe.com.

Discover how to create or enhance your own training content, programs or products visit SkillFitness for Content Partners

Schedule your personal, one-on-one, online demo today!

Or contact us to learn more about SkillFitness.

What Millennials want from your onboarding program

Millennials want more out of a job than just a paycheck.  They are driven by a unique combination of personal mission, ambition for career progression, and desire for continuous learning and personal development.

Studies show that most new hires decide within the first three weeks on the job whether they feel at home with their new organization.

Does your onboarding program deliver what Millennials want and need to know to reinforce their decision, improve their engagement and help ensure their retention with the company?

An effective onboarding program will focus on ensuring new Millennial hires understand the organization’s commitment to them in terms of:

  • Values and mission
  • Career advancement and personal development
  • Coaching and mentorship opportunities

The formula for successfully onboarding Millennials is simple. Address Millennials basic motivations for choosing the work they do and who they do it for. Show them how your organization aligns with these motivations.  Create alignment between their motivations and the experience of working with your organization. Do that, and you’ll make major progress towards turning new Millennial hires into engaged, loyal employees.

 Values & Mission

Today’s Millennial workforce lives by a strong mission and value system and is seeking to align their career with a higher purpose.

According to a survey by Microsoft, 88% of respondents said that are drawn to companies that display a clearly defined set of values and a strong mission.

This is reinforced by Deloitte, which found that six in ten Millennials say “a sense of purpose” is part of the reason they chose a new employer. Among “super-connected Millennials”, those who are heavy users of social networking tools, there is an even greater focus on business purpose with 77% of this group reporting their company’s purpose was a major reason why they chose to work there.

Deloitte also found a strong sense of purpose was closely linked to positive organizational performance. Among businesses where Millennials say there is a strong sense of purpose, there is significantly higher reporting of financial success, employee satisfaction and growth in recruitment.

Since this generation leans towards employers and jobs where they feel they can serve a purpose, onboardingshould focus on ensuring that the new hire understands the company’s broader social mission and impact, internalizes that mission and aligns it with their own core values, and how both the employee and organization can work together contribute to society as a whole.

How important is stressing the organization’s mission in onboarding and retention?

Deloitte reports that company values that are shared with and believed by Millennials also promote loyalty – especially when employers demonstrate a strong sense of purpose beyond financials.  Millennials who say that they plan to stay with their current company for at least the next five years also are far more likely to report a strong sense of purpose than those who think they will leave in the next two years.

Career Advancement & Personal Development

Moving up the ladder is important to Millennial employees.  Making sure they understand opportunities to do it within your organization must be a key objective of your onboarding program.

In a survey of how Millennial college graduates evaluate employers and job opportunities, PriceWaterhouseCoopers  (PWC) found:

  • Career progression is a top priority for Millennials with 52% saying this was the main attraction of an employer, coming ahead of competitive salaries at 44%. Excellent training and development programs followed at 35%.
  • Some 65% who had recently accepted a job said the opportunity for personal development was the factor that most influenced their decision. It was the number one factor and far ahead of the starting salary at 21%.
  • When asked which benefits they would most value from an employer, training and development topped the list at 22%, ahead of financial benefits.

In many ways, Millennials see their jobs as stepping stones to self-improvement and a way to continuously develop the skills they need to remain employable and to advance. The majority of Millennials – some 93% – see ongoing skill development as an important part of their careers. Make sure your onboarding program addresses both opportunities in your organization for career advancement and for skill development.

Coaching and Mentoring Opportunities

Millennials place high value on coaching and mentoring.

According to a study by PWC, “Working with strong coaches and mentors” topped the list of training and development opportunities that Millennials would most value from employers.

Millennials have grown up with the notion that they should constantly seek the advice of others – often through social media. This leads to another unique aspect of mentoring Millennials – they tend to welcome having multiple mentors ranging from traditional managers to peers to specialized coaches or other subject matter experts.

As we’ve seen, support for Millennials career ambitions and development and exploring how their personal values align with corporate values and objectives drive Millennial employee loyalty and retention. Mentors are a powerful tool to accomplish this. A Deloitte study found that those who intended to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%).

Our “Onboarding Millennials” e-book offers dozens of tips and techniques for addressing Millennials’ needs during onboarding and a complete roadmap for creating a successful onboarding program.  Click here to download your free copy.


NEW E-BOOK!

ONBOARDING MILLENNIALS

The 3 "Must Have" Strategies for Recruiting, Training and Retaining Great Millennial New Hires

Download Your Free Copy!


Orientation vs onboarding: The case for technology in onboarding Millennials

Getting new employees “off on the right foot” is critical to organizational success.

Some 47% of staff turnover occurs in the first 90 days on the job, according to research by the Wynhurst Group, and new hires decide in thire first three weeks whether or not they feel at home in their new organization.

With the cost of losing an employee estimated to be three times their annual salary, employee retention is a critical concern. New employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 69% more likely to be with the company in three years than those who did not.

But onboarding – so critical to successfully engaging and retaining new hires – is not something that can be successfully delivered in a single classroom session on the morning of their first day of work.

A key distinction in structuring a successful onboarding process is the difference between orientation and onboarding.

Orientation is an event. Onboarding is a process.

There are a few key differentiators that help illustrate this difference:

  1. Structure:  Orientation is typically done in a single event; onboarding programs often span several weeks or more.
  2. Delivery: Orientation is delivered classroom style learning or a learning portal. Since onboarding programs last much longer, they often need to be delivered to employees already performing their day-to-day job and perhaps located remotely and already in the field. This calls for a delivery platform that can be scale to reach remote employees and fit orientation into already busy schedules.
  3. Content: Orientation focuses on need-to-know facts, policies and procedures delivered through one-way, passive learning of standardized content. Successful onboarding utilizes content that is customized to the individual’s needs and role. Learning is active and two-way; involving practice, coaching and feedback.
  4. Expected Results:  After orientation, the employee is still considered “new” but has a basic understanding of company policies and procedures and all required paperwork has been completed and submitted. After an extended onboarding process, the employee is considered fully integrated into the organization and has formed strong connections within the company.

So successful onboarding programs face several logistical challenges that call for new ways to deliver content and engage learners:

  • They need to be conducted over extended periods of time.
  • They need to fit into the day-to-day demands and schedules of employees (and often their managers) who are already “on the job”.
  • Many of these employees may already be in the field. Bringing them together for ongoing onboarding events would be disruptive and potentially very expensive. So the program needs to be scalable and deliverable remote employees.
  • Content needs to be consistent, but also highly customizable to the individual. For example, an organization often has core values that are fixed and expressed using consistent language approved by upper management. But helping individuals understand those values, express them in their own words, and align them to their own beliefs may require a customized approach in facilitation or coaching.
  • Metrics need to be established and tracked. Because onboarding is an extended process, it is important to ensure that all participants remain engaged in the process and are making progress.

Fortunately, new technologies are emerging that make this type of effective onboarding possible – and affordable in terms of both time and money.

Mobile learning platforms such as SkillFitness allow you to use a mobile-based, online, social learning approach to structure and deliver onboarding programs. This approach combines several technologies including mobile, video, social and gamification to engage employees, provide coaching, and track their progress. 

The technological approach may be especially appealing to Millennials. Millennials love of technology is well known.  While their older Generation X colleagues are viewed as tech savvy, Millennials are sometimes viewed as tech addicted. They’ve never known, and can’t imagine, a world without internet connectivity; social media; and instant, anytime, anywhere access to information and their colleagues and connections.

This onboarding approach also has several advantages beyond just providing information in meeting Millennial learning styles and expectations:

  • It gives Millennial learners control over their own learning. Millennials grew up in a world of instant access, anytime, anywhere access to learning and to learning at their pace.  The mobile learning approach meets these expectations and helps fit onboarding into already busy schedules.
  • It provides a clear path to success during the critical first few months on the job.  Millennials recognize that they need help adapting to their new position, their new organization, and to the workplace in general. When surveyed by Bentley University, recent Millennial college graduates gave themselves a grade of “C minus“ in terms of being prepared for work.  Millennials have had more guidance in their lives than any other generation. Throughout their lives, they’ve had parents, teachers and coaches explaining step-by-step what is expected of them.  Providing a clear path to a successful start in their new position helps reduce the anxiety they already feel and gives them a realistic picture of what needs to be learned and how to get there.
  • It supports Millennials need for social connections and mentorship. Millennials daily lives revolve around their social networks. It’s how they live, work and learn.  It’s also how they get feedback from formal or informal mentors – teachers, gurus, friends, colleagues, and coaches – to address personal or professional issues.  Tapping into this strong desire for online connection will make your onboarding program more engaging, relevant and effective.

Want to learn more about how to make your onboarding program more effective and engaging for your Millennial employees?  Check out our e-book, “Onboarding Millennials – The 3 ‘Must Have’ Strategies for Recruiting, Training and Retaining Great Millennial New Hires”. Click here to download your free copy.


NEW E-BOOK!

ONBOARDING MILLENNIALS

The 3 "Must Have" Strategies for Recruiting, Training and Retaining Great Millennial New Hires

Download Your Free Copy!