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The Neuroscience Benefits of a Virtual Sales Training Program

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Adobe, SalesLoft, Outreach, and every other sales organization of companies globally have as a result of Covid-19 been forced to pivot. All by now have implemented virtual sales training or online sales training programs that have had a better impact on sellers’ behavior than a face-to-face training session ever was able to achieve

A virtual sales training program can and will help remote selling teams and sales management grow sales opportunities and close more sales pipeline. Leveling up selling skills and keeping sales reps selling virtually will also drive more virtual meetings and allow your sales enablement team to do more with less.

Likewise, the typical in-person sales training event pre-2020 may not be possible anymore due to individual sales teams and sales managers’ personal concerns with being in a non-virtual environment.

This is why sales enablement strategies are focused on how to develop the best virtual sales training or outsource some or parts to a global sales training company. Companies sales professionals and sales management for some time may want to mitigate the risk of their sellers’ becoming ill and frankly many are finding stellar results from the virtual sales programs they have created.

However, sales leaders still have a responsibility to deliver results to executives and to deliver sales training content and sales coaching which drives sales excellence. To do that, every sales rep needs to be trained to improve their virtual selling techniques and how to properly conduct a virtual sales meeting.

Is Online Sales Training Effective?

Without a doubt, research supports the benefits of a virtual instructor-led training (VILT) program.

Why?

The data shows from sales managers to sales teams, selling skills delivered in a virtual setting equals better information retention rates, less disruption to daily activities, and near elimination of travel costs. This data was available prior to Covid and despite it being pervasively available for many years, it, unfortunately, took a pandemic for sales managers to consider delivering training materials through a virtual selling program.

To be fair, 9/10 sales training companies refused to deliver virtual sales training too prior to the pandemic. In fact, sales training companies considered delivering a training program let alone a customized sales training program near impossible over video conferencing.

Virtual training workshops just had a stigma. It was generally perceived that a sales team needed to learn sales training content from in-person sales trainers not through virtual sales training.

Consider the studies and data available pre-pandemic which showcased that reps retain information and new skills taught when sales training courses were delivered as a micro learning and over the course of time. What’s the point? That sales teams can have sales success with virtual sales training.

Infographic showing statistics of traditional sales training vs virtual training

Continue reading to learn the scientific reasons why one- or two-day live sales training events generally don’t work and the benefits of putting together the right VILT or virtual sales training program.

 

Live In-Person Sales Training Events Aren’t Effective

As a sales leader, you’re always looking to provide your sellers with the best techniques to improve their performance. For years, sales training presentations have been crammed into one- or two-day events. Then, within a month, sales management would complain that most reps had forgotten everything they learned, and success stories would dwindle over the course of time. It turns out, they were right.

In fact, according to Gartner research, B2B sales reps forget 70% of the information they learn within a week of training and 87% will forget it within a month. Yet, businesses still spend so much money on the same training format, expecting different results.

8 people in a meeting listening to a person standing

How much do they spend? It is estimated that U.S. companies spend more than $70 billion on training every year (an average of $1,459 per salesperson), but studies show that the ROI is minimal or non-existent.

Why?

Because sales professionals can’t retain that much information from throwing everyone together in the same room.

But, deliver your sales program in a virtual environment correctly and the impact can have an extremely positive effect on pipeline development and on the sales cycle.  Take for example our client, Carousel Industries. They were able to add over $1.5M in 9 months to the sales pipeline by leveraging our virtual sales training program.

U.S. companies spend an average of $1,459 per #sales rep on #training every year. But reps forget 70% of the information within a week. #DigitalSales #VirtualTraining @M_3Jr @Gartner_inc Click To Tweet

The Forgetting Curve

In the late 1800s, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus coined what is known as “The Forgetting Curve.” He found that if new information isn’t applied, people forget about 75% of what they’ve learned after just six days. Talk about a waste of training sessions!

The sad fact is that only 12% of employees apply the skills they get from training to their jobs. There simply isn’t enough time in a one- or two-day training session for reps to apply the knowledge. This is unfortunate because while many reps engaged in likely great training, and they were excited and rejuvenated to apply the new techniques, few if any actually do apply the new selling skills.

Woman with sticky notes on her body expressing confusion

However, regardless of how excited they leave the event, they return to the field and have to catch up on emails and client calls. Then something else happens and then there’s a surprise client meeting. Suddenly, they’re swamped and return to their comfortable, ineffective selling skills.

Humans are creatures of habit, and it takes an average of 66 days to make new habits automatic. Learning new information in a one- or two-day event won’t lead to new habits because there isn’t enough time. Thus, we recommend helping your sales professionals develop virtual selling skills through virtual sales training programs. Why?

How People Learn

Our brains don’t have the capacity to remember large amounts of information all at once. In fact, here are some facts about how our brain works:

  • Short-term human memory is limited to about seven items of information.
  • Retention rates are even lower when the information is delivered verbally instead of visually.
  • It takes time and repetition to turn selling skills into new habits.

Our memory works with a dual-process or two systems as described by Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking Fast and Slow. System 1 is the unconscious, routine thought process that interacts with the more conscious, problem-based thought processes known as System 2.

Hand holding a tablet with a person virtually teaching

In terms of learning, System 1 serves for memorization and recall of information, while System 2 serves for analytical or critical thinking. For optimal learning, you need to involve both systems.

First, you activate System 1 by providing the concepts and information. Then you activate System 2 by presenting sales reps with problem-solving tasks and asking them to apply the concepts learned outside the domain in which it was first introduced.

In a traditional one-to-two day sales training, System 2 is on the sidelines the entire time, as System 1 is focused on trying to remember the information. Combined with the time required to develop a new habit, traditional sales training doesn’t provide enough opportunities to change behavior or create real sales transformation. And to drive success in modern sales we as a leadership team must think about how do we make this sales training sticky for the sales professionals!

Our #memory has two systems: one to memorize information and another to solve problems. Is your #sales #training engaging both systems? Learn why a #DigitalSales #VirtualTraining is the best way to learn. @M_3Jr Click To Tweet

3 Virtual Sales Techniques for Improving Long-Term Retention of Sales Professionals

If salespeople can’t remember their training, how can they apply it to their daily work? There are three techniques that educators use to improve the long-term retention of information. These are vital to a virtual sales training program.

    1. The testing effect. Frequent, small tests are a great way to teach and help students retain new information. When your sales reps regularly have to recall information, it will be ingrained in their long-term memory. This is very easy to implement when you are delivering virtual selling content.
    2. The spacing effect. Spreading learning out over time increases retention. Research shows that with the spacing effect, people can remember about 80% of the information after 60 days. Thus, virtual sales training is clearly the winner here vs. the old archaic same-day event programs.
    3. The chunking technique. Grouping pieces of information helps retention because the student doesn’t have to recall each piece of content individually but as a group. Dividing sales training material into smaller pieces (less than seven) or categorizing them in chunks helps the brain to encode information faster and more efficiently.

Components Required to Drive Virtual Selling Skills

Virtual selling programs, like our Selling with LinkedIn ® and LinkedIn Sales Navigator curriculum, use the techniques mentioned above to improve retention and ensure that the investment in remote on-demand training is not wasted.

As a sales training company, our aim is to ensure we are helping the sales team to sell virtually, achieve sales goals, and close deals. What sales enablement leaders find with our training materials and through our virtual presentations are sales teams’ virtual selling skills exponentially grow based on the above techniques and the below seven components.

8 Virtual Sales Training Ideas for Ultimate Success

Here are eight benefits of virtual, instructor-led sales training:

Vectored phone image#1: Gamification to Make Learning Fun and Interactive

Salespeople are competitive by nature, so effective virtual sales training needs to take advantage of that behavior. While live sales training usually incorporates group practice sessions with some rewards for the best performance, there are few that track progress through the entire program.

VILT programs provide more opportunities to track progress and reward the sales professional because they span a number of weeks. This gives everyone a chance to apply the techniques and achieve the program’s key objectives.

For example, because our virtual sales training is focused on modern selling techniques, we recognize top performers for gaining the most, new LinkedIn connections, the highest LinkedIn SSI score growth, and the most referrals requests. Then, we have an awards ceremony at the end of the program to provide top performers with an award they can add to their LinkedIn profile.

And while rewards are the motivation for sellers, sales leaders want to see improved results, such as more sales conversations, converting more prospects to opportunities with meaningful discussions, and increased win rates.

#Gamification is key in any #salestraining to motivate and track the performance of #sellers. #SalesLeadership can learn to use rewards to improve results. @M_3Jr Click To Tweet

Icon representing chunking and spacing #2: Chunking and Spacing

Instead of cramming all the training into one or two days, virtual selling programs take advantage of how the brain works and how sellers learn. For example, we use short video lessons that can be watched and re-watched as needed. We’ve also grouped our training into six phases to focus on one specific area of digital selling at a time.

At Vengreso we deliver training in small chunks, generally delivered over the course of 8 to 11 weeks to ensure that the learning sticks and a sales team are able to understand the new sales process or skills and then apply the new techniques.

Icon representing promotion#3: Promotes Deliberate Practice

Deliberate practice is a technique proven to improve long-term retention. It’s simply the act of deliberately and actively practicing a skill to get better at it.

In our LinkedIn® Sales Mastery program for teams, we encourage students to practice what they learned after each lesson, such as making particular changes to their LinkedIn profiles or connecting with prospects using specific templates. We then two days later host a coaching session whereby we ensure they are doing what they learned.

In fact, 95% of end-of-course survey respondents say our virtual sales training provided an opportunity for them to practice the skills taught during the program.

Icon representing repetition#4: Applies Repetition

Why do so many sales reps struggle to retain and apply the knowledge they learn during training? Because a one or two-day event does not provide time for sellers to apply what they learned.

On the other hand, virtual selling programs reinforce key points and techniques over the course of several weeks. As reps are learning and relearning, the virtual sales training also incorporates practice so that reps are also applying what they learn.

Icon representing video#5: Incorporates Videos

Videos are important because people remember only 10% of what they hear three days later, but 65% of what they hear and see. Live events may incorporate some videos. However, they normally consist of one or two people lecturing from PowerPoint, live examples, and group exercises.

Just like the other aspects of a virtual sales program, videos allow learners to watch at their pace. For instance, some reps may learn quickly. They can watch the video and move on. Others may need to rewind and take notes during important sections. VILT programs that incorporate videos enable sellers to learn at the pace they are most comfortable with.

People remember only 10% of what they hear 3 days later, but 65% of what they hear and see. Incorporate video in your #SalesTraining to improve retention. #DigitalSales @M_3Jr @BrainRulesBooks Click To Tweet

Icon representing knowledge - head with gears inside#6: Test Knowledge

Assessments are key to understanding if learners absorbed the information during the program and if they truly comprehend it. During live training events, it is difficult to offer assessments.

On the other hand, even some of the best virtual selling skills training programs, like Selling with LinkedIn® offer an assessment at the end of each module. Incorporated into the program, these assessments ensure that reps completely grasp key concepts before moving on to the next module.

Finally, these assessments enable course producers to continually improve the program. If too many sellers aren’t correctly answering questions about a certain topic, perhaps that wasn’t covered enough during the training.

Icon representing personal coaching - person holding another person's hand#7: Sales Coaching

Immediate feedback is essential to effective learning. Vengreso’s students, for instance, receive access to virtual, live coaching sessions to discuss topics covered during that week’s training, how to apply them to their specific needs, and ask any questions to a sales coach.

During a normal, one- or two-day training, there will be some time for Q and A. However, when the training is over, reps can’t call the sales trainer and ask how to apply a certain technique to a specific prospect.

That’s why a VILT program that provides on-demand training, reinforced with virtual, live events, the ability to practice the techniques, and reinforced with virtual, live sales coaching sessions, enables reps to learn, practice, and apply new techniques.

Icon of a clock#8: Build Time in the Schedule to Take Breaks

Working from home has uncovered the life of everyday salespeople. A survey showed that 72 percent of salespeople are habitually working evenings or weekends. The key is to keep in mind your sellers aren’t machines whose work can last hours.

Sales managers must promote good health even after training. By allowing pauses during virtual sales training sessions, sales reps can keep track of the latest data. But even with the availability of online sales training, it does mean salespeople are immune from burnout as well.

Nobody wants to stare at a screen for 2-hours or more without stretching.

Ready to Implement a Virtual Sales Training Program

Sales leaders need to teach reps effective techniques for finding, engaging, and connecting with the modern buyer, only then can they truly become the modern seller that wins!

Are you ready to learn how a VILT program can help your sellers leverage modern selling techniques to find, engage, and connect with prospects? Reach out to us here and we’ll get your sellers booking more meetings and talking to more customers in no time.

Choosing a Virtual Sales Training Course

First, you must decide what skills you must improve for yourself or your team.

Lady pointing computer screen with a pen

Sales professionals and sales managers might consider taking a sales course through the Internet. If you’re going to build one I recommend inquiring into a sales training company like Vengreso and asking to license the virtual training content.

Doing so will help you short circuit having to create virtual sales training or online courses for your team from scratch. Licensing the content for your sales team is an easy way to create customized sales training.

Reach out to us, and we can talk about how to license our sales prospecting training materials!

2 thoughts on “The Neuroscience Benefits of a Virtual Sales Training Program”

  1. This is the first time I’ve encountered this topic, although I suspect many of us–under duress–would admit they’ve worried about it. I’m impressed by the depth of the information shared in the information and the links. Definitely worth saving and re-reading.

    1. The modern buyers need modern sellers now more than ever.
      Thank you, Roger! We’re happy to know that our content is serving one of its main purpose: To raise awareness.

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