When it comes to investing in tools and technology to make the lives of the workforce easier, it is not difficult to imagine that business leaders across companies are spoilt for choice. While many companies already use an LMS platform to address the learning needs of their workforce, a traditional LMS platform might become generic for addressing the burgeoning needs of frontline sales, customer service and operations teams.
The new-age workforce is distracted, impatient, and overwhelmed. They require a platform they can access whenever and wherever they want. Moreover, the platform needs to be engaging enough to drown out the noise of modern life.
When business & learning leaders start looking out for the right platform, they come across various types of platforms during their conversations. Online platforms for learning now range from Sales Enablement, Sales Readiness, Modern LMS, LXP (or Learning Experience Platforms) as well as Microlearning platforms.
How do L&D leaders and sales leaders know what type of platform is most apt for their workforce and salesforce? Perhaps a more relevant question is how do business leaders know which business objectives are best addressed through which platform?
To arrive at the right decision, it is imperative to understand the key differences between Sales Enablement Platforms, Sales Readiness Platforms, Microlearning Platforms, and LMS Platforms.
What is an LMS (Learning Management System) Platform?
LMS is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation, and delivery of educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs.
What is an LMS platform used for?
LMS platforms are used for Corporate Learning, Employee Onboarding, Employee Compliance Training and any learning requirements for a specific or broader subset of the organization’s workforce.
What are the typical features of an LMS?
A traditional LMS platform usually has the following features:
- Create online course material
It helps trainers create online learning material with a host of interactive and engaging elements with great ease.
- Define assessment criteria or tests
An LMS equips you with a wide variety of assessment tools and tests which help trainers not only gauge learner engagement but also, taps into data on retention and comprehension.
- Organize courses
It helps one deploy courses in an organized manner to employees across various roles by classifying learning content as per their difficulty level, skills relevant to each role and so on.
- Information about courses taken
An LMS not only ensures the right and the most relevant courses are available to each learner, with detailed information of the courses already taken and the courses recommended for him/her.
Pros and Cons of an LMS:
- Providing Knowledge: The central focus of an LMS is to provide knowledge through training.
- Easy access of information: Allows for consolidation of all training information and enables easy access to it for learners and trainers alike in one place.
- Reduces cost of training: Since LMS delivers training online, it’s more cost effective compared to classroom-based training.
- Enables tracking and monitoring: LMS platforms provide trainers with reports which allows them to view the progress of each learner.
- Limited Learning Designs: May not accommodate all kinds of learning experiences, such as game-based learning, ,Microlearning, gamified assessments.
- Low engagement rates: Training efforts are often met with resistance by the frontline sales force and hence adoption of LMS platforms requires concerted push efforts by trainers & support teams.
Administrative costs and time: Converting learning content in the e-learning format may take up time.
Despite being utilized by organizations for more than two decades, LMS platforms usually have low engagement rates especially at the frontline level. Frontline sales reps have a fair amount of resistance when it comes to learning or adopting any new platform, which is why L&D teams have to often rely on various push-based methods for learning.
What is Sales Readiness?
Sales readiness involves evaluating whether salespeople possess the skills and knowledge needed to have effective conversations throughout the buyer’s journey.
What Is It Used For?
Essentially, the prime goal of an effective sales readiness platform is to prepare reps to close more and bigger deals. Sales readiness equips sales reps with the knowledge and skills required to have an edge over the competition and drive home the organizations messaging in conversations with prospects and customers.
What Are The Typical Features Of A Sales Readiness Platform?
Key sales readiness includes the following activities to help develop more productive, agile, and ready sellers.
It is important to track certain learning metrics to evaluate the readiness of sales reps. Attempts post-completion, accuracy of each module, et al help determine training needs and further refining the methodology and approach to enhance sales effectiveness.
When it comes to designing content strategy, organizations need to move from a reactive learning model -- where the onus is on reps to participate -to a more proactive approach. It is important to ensure that training is administered at the right intervals and in the most engaging format. This means pushing out learning content -- ideally in bite-sized video/multimedia format- - at regular intervals and establishing those competencies are measured and mastered. Since sales training is one of the key components to ensure the readiness of the reps, it is important to ensure a sales readiness platform can effectively meet the complex training needs of the modern-day field force.
To make coaching more impactful, sales readiness platforms need to have the functionality for field observation, which will enable sales coaches to give constructive feedback to their sales reps. A one-size-fits-all approach is no longer able to meet the complex training needs of the modern sales rep. The key to ensuring higher productivity among sales reps is to have a program, backed by performance data that makes it more personalized and fitting to their need.
Pros and Cons Of A Sales Readiness Platform
- Outcome based approach: Unlike an LMS, a sales readiness platform shifts and narrows its focus of sales training away from imparting knowledge to deliver real outcomes. You can assess whether your sales reps are meeting their quotas and correlate their performance with the training programs delivered.
- Applying what they learn: As sales readiness platform provide non-traditional assessments, in the form of field coaching and role play training.
- Deeper insights & solutions: Sales readiness gives nuanced insights about the gaps in any sales reps performance, thus helping trainers, marketers & product teams to take a more targeted approach to refining their salesforce’s capability.
- Agility based approach: Sales readiness tools help sales reps improve their capabilities as per the requirement of the hour. Unlike LMS, these platforms have a wider range of learning designs to facilitate such an agile approach.
- Less popularity: Sales readiness platforms are an emerging category and hence may not be as widely and consistently understood as an LMS platform.
- Difficulty in implementation: Implementation of sales readiness platforms may require more effort because of its many different components.
What Is Sales Enablement?
‘Sales Readiness’ and ‘Sales Enablement’ are often used interchangeably or mistaken to be the same concept. According to CSO Insights, sales enablement is - “A strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople and front-line sales managers along the entire customer’s buying journey, powered by technology.”
What Does Sales Enablement Do?
Sales enablement covers a wide range of activities and responsibilities that influence the entire sales process. The objective of sales enablement is to provide the sales force with all tools, technology, and content they require to excel. It also helps the sales team to align with other functions and processes for an enhanced customer experience.
What Are The Typical Features Of A Sales Enablement Platform?
Sales enablement platforms must cater to the needs of the entire commercial organization and not just the salesforce.
Hence the ideal sales enablement platform needs to have the following capabilities:
- Just In Time Learning:
Sales reps must be on the field all day, and hence have limited time to consume content. Therefore, they should have the freedom to select the modules and pieces of content that are most relevant to their individual goals at that specific moment in time. They should also be able to skip around inside courses to find the exact information they need; in whatever order they prefer. Since a traditional LMS usually lays out a static list of resources, sales reps are unable to leverage them at critical moments.
Sales enablement platform should be learner-friendly and allow seller to access and consume content when and how it is needed by them.
- Ease of content creation & recommendation
In a fast-paced business environment, you need the ability to provide up-to-date information and bite-sized training as quickly as possible. Having up-to-date product information in one place not only ensures that sales reps can effectively sell, but also ensures brand messaging stays consistent across sales teams.
Sales leaders and trainers should be able to simply add an existing YouTube video, slideshow, or blog article from a third party directly into the platform for learners to review. This ensures that the entire team is using the latest, and most effective selling strategies and tactics.
With a traditional LMS, there’s no added incentive to encourage users to continue learning and acquiring skills. It’s simply a linear, disengaging series of lectures and quizzes. Because of this, it’s often a painful, uphill battle for managers and leaders to get their employees to complete the training and pass the assessments.
Incorporating gamification enhances engagement in the learning process and creates a nudge for sales reps to consume the content repeatedly. In addition, you can spark a competitive spirit among sales team by providing leaderboards so they can compare their progress with that of their peers. Points, badges, and trophies provide further incentive for continual learning by recognizing sales reps for their hard work and progress.
- Mobile Options
What modern sales reps need in an on-the-go, globally connected world is the ability to quickly access information and knowledge from their mobile device. They should be able to access the information in their downtime. This could be when they’re waiting in their car before a client meeting, or on their morning commute to the office. Therefore mobile-first sales enablement platforms are the most preferred choice of sales reps.
A good sales enablement platform will provide sales leaders with advanced sales dashboards and customized analysis of some key metrics such as:
- How much time a user is spending on any given course or content
- How many attempts it took for a user to pass a quiz or exam
- What skill gaps do users have, and where additional training is needed
- Data visualization to help administrators identify patterns and trends
These connections and bits of data will allow your sales team to make smarter decisions, which in turn will lead to more sales and better overall efficiency.
Pros And Cons Of Sales Enablement
- Focused on equipping reps: Even though these platforms are focused on sales training, it focuses on providing reps with all the tools and techniques they need to go out and sell. Unlike sales readiness platforms, it does not particularly focus on how the reps apply these learning outcomes.
- Strong data and analytics: Sales enablement platforms provides strong sales data and deep insights and analytics, helping business and training leaders make better informed decisions.
- Faster deals: When sales reps are equipped with better tools and technologies, they are able to simplify the sales process and further save time.
- Better alignment with marketing: This allows sales reps to provide prospects and customers with the right material at the right time, while also being updated with the latest marketing activities, product launches and campaigns of the company.
- Challenges in Onboarding: Your sales reps will take some time in getting used to the newer tools and technologies. This may take up their time and affect workflows.
- Costs: Since it comprises of multiple tools and technologies, it requires the company to incur more costs.
Not only are today’s sales reps forgetful, but they’re also busy. Research shows that, on average, employees are interrupted every three minutes. They would want a refresher training on the latest product but do not have the time to sit through lengthy classroom/online training and consume long-form content. What would help them is bite-sized pieces of information that they can consume throughout their day to help them to stay up-to-date and retain knowledge. This type of information sharing is known as microlearning.
What Is Microlearning?
Microlearning describes any learning design that operates on the principle that people learn more effectively if the content is broken into smaller units or bite-sized pieces and delivered in short sessions
What Does Microlearning Typically Do?
The most effective platforms deliver content in the microlearning format, which helps to reduce the resistance when it comes to learning. Microlearning platforms further allow for better retention of relevant information, which is essentially what modern sales reps need to have the most impactful conversations.
What Are The Features Of A Microlearning Platform?
- Bite Sized Content
Since Microlearning breaks down learning content into bite sized pieces, it delivers important and relevant information to learners in a targeted manner.
Microlearning allows trainers to update learning content in an easy and quick manner with minimal efforts.
- Engaging microlearning templates
Microlearning platforms offer learning templates which can not only enhance the earning experience and make it more effective, it also allows trainers to add assessments and convert them into attractive templates with minimal efforts.
Pros And Cons Of Microlearning Platform:
- Saves Time: Since only relevant and bite sized learning content is being delivered, it saves a lot of time of sales reps, which allows them more time on the field interacting with customers.
- Lesser Resistance Among Learners: Since learners are consuming bite sized content, and they don’t have to engage in long training sessions, they have lesser resistance to learning. This makes training a pull effort and as opposed to a push effort, which can be usually seen in most training activities.
- Better Retention: As the learning content is minimal, learners are naturally able to retain it better.
- Loss Of Information: It is difficult to cover wide range of subjects in one go, since the content has to be broken down.
- Casual ambiance can lead to distraction: Microlearning is often consumed over mobile devices. Hence,, when done in a casual setting the learner can easily get distracted by his surroundings, or simply by other apps on his phone. This can hinder the learning experience.
When it comes to tracking metrics and ensuring an engaging sales readiness experience,
organizations increasingly rely on sales readiness platforms, like Master-O.
Master-O is a sales enablement & readiness platform, which has aided several sales enablement programs for enterprise customers. The platform is a key driver of sales strategies for many industry leaders and empowers the field force with the right tools and information they require for having compelling sales coaching conversations that lead to higher conversions and customer lifetime values. To make the learning experience more personalized, Master-O helps sales managers tap into various data points and analyses. This gives sales leaders and managers much-required objective perspective to reimagine their coaching approach and realign it with performance metrics.
To learn more about Master-O along with microlearning and enablement in the flow of work, please visit masteroapp.com or schedule a demo to discover how Master-O can redefine sales enablement for your organization.