Learning sales skills online has become the new standard for salespeople to learn about and acquire new ways to sell. However, learning sales skills online is not just about the concepts of selling or some simple sales training videos, it’s also allowing sales people to learn hard selling skills. Skills such as prospecting, cold calling, presentation skills, overcoming objections etc.
So, how salespeople at all levels of experience take better advantage of online sales training? Also, what is the most efficient way to learn and absorb as much information as quickly as possible?
How Learning Sales Skills Works
Learning any new skill including sales skills works the same way. We all rely on memory and neural schemas to learn new skills. Any learning that we undertake relies on our ability to tap into our memory bank, so that we can then adjust to the new information being presented.
So, learning sales skills is an active process that involves a level of sensory input to our brains, and our ability to extract meaningful data from the sensory input by paying attention to it so it reaches our short-term working memory. Then a potential transfer of the information into our long-term memory takes place. This means that in order for any of us to have really learned new information about the nuances of selling, it needs to be stored into our long-term memory.
Short-term memory V Long-term memory
As a quick explanation, our short-term memory keeps easy, fast data or concepts that serves as a trigger to other store it for future recall. This information only lasts for about a minute, and could be compared to a message reminder. So, when information passes through our short-term memory and then is required to be stored in our long-term memory for future use, there are tactics we can use.
One such tactic is mental repetition or rehearsal, another is associating meaning to the information and then linking it with knowledge we already have. Research has shown that the higher the level a person’s interest in the subject matter, the more likely they are to retain the information. So, if you have a real desire to learn new sales skills, then your retention of the information for use later on will be greatly enhanced.
The other point worth noting is that the information we all store in our long-term memory doesn’t degrade or shrink easily plus we can store large amounts of information in our brains, which is why we need to file information here.
The science behind how we learn
Learning sales skills online like every lesson any of us has ever learned will be encoded in our brains as a memory. Then, in order for us to retain this new information in our long-term memory, we will need to create memories surrounding the thing we to remember.
Learning psychology tells us that there are four main steps through which most of go about our learning: They are;
Attention: the filters through which we experience the world around us.
Encoding: how we process what our “attention” lets into our minds.
Storage: what happens once the information enters our brain.
Retrieval: tapping into and recalling of the information.
In learning any new skill, the question then switches to how we can optimize our memory retrieval. In order for us to really learn something, we first must understand the data and content, not just simply memorize it.
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
Studies show that we only retain approx. 8% of a lesson after a week, especially if the content is complex or the lesson contains boring material. It seems that if we don’t understand the material, we don’t remember it.
Sales training, similar to lots of training, seems to try to cram in lots of topics rather than space out the learnings which avoids the frustration of learning. This cramming has the effect that many of us reply on memorization, not actual retention. This simple does not work for long-term memory.
What works for learning sales skills retention?
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when learning sales skills or choosing a sales training program for yourself. We know that all of us learn best when the sales training material is presented to us in a specific way. Learning becomes sustainable when;
We are engaged in solving real-world problems e.g. How to engage more prospects?
Our existing sales knowledge becomes the foundation for new knowledge.
The new knowledge is demonstrated to us in the lessons.
The new knowledge is understandable, so it can be applied by us.
The new knowledge we are exposed to is integrated into our daily sales activities.
When we are teaching ourselves something new, we have to make sure we are engaged in real world sales situations, have some basic information we already know to build upon, and we will get the opportunity to demonstrate our learning in our sales activity.
How to better learn sales skills online
Thousands of salespeople around the world are discovering that learning sales skills online is more convenient and retentive. But just like undertaking any sales training programs, we need to come prepared to learn.
The old line about how “we will only get as much out of it as we put in” still holds true. So, come prepared to open our minds to new thinking, schedule time in our diaries for blocks of learning (not cramming) and complete every lesson.
Then we need to know what online sales training programs content to look for.
Any online sales training courses we invest in should include some of these learning tools to encourage our learning and retention:
We can space the lessons over a longer time frame and can re-visit them often.
The use of solutions that work in the sales process and addresses problem-solving situations.
They combine videos, graphics, written material and verbal descriptions.
Tests and quizzes so our learning is baked in.
Good use of updated research, storytelling and examples.
The lessons pose deep questions that challenges our own beliefs.
The online sales training facilitates our learning at times that suit.
Keep Learning Sales Skills
A sure-fired way for us to become more effective learners is to simply keep learning. In a survey on retention, it was shown that people who learned how to juggle increased the amount of grey matter in the area of the brain associated with visual memory. When these individuals stopped practicing juggling, the grey matter vanished.
So, when we are learning sales skills, it is important for us to keep practicing the sales skills in order to maintain the knowledge we have achieved. This “use-it-or-lose-it” brain process is known as “pruning.” If we want the new information we have just learned to be retained, keep practicing and using it in our sales work.
Another way for us to become more effective learners is the use relational frame training, this involves relating new information to things that we already know. For example, if we are learning about Sales Presentation Skills via a sales course online, we could associate what you learn about the topic with prior knowledge you have about public speaking, how we communicate, and other relevant information.
Block off our study time
Did you know that multitasking can actually make our learning less effective? By switching from one activity to another, we learn more slowly, become less efficient and retain less information. Stay focused on the lesson presented before us and continue learning for a predetermined amount of time. Then, dividing the sales training lessons into smaller chunks allows our brains to encode the new information faster.
Learning sales skills online has multiple benefits that we will cover in another article. Using online sales training to learn new sales skills will take time plus it always takes practice and determination to put what we have learned into new habits. We call this our sales habit loops. The key to successful online sales training learning is to begin by focusing on just a few of the tips in each lesson to see if we can get more out of the next lesson.