How do you train your employees on the latest techniques and procedures when they’re far away from home? If you’re like NASA, you might consider taking advantage of mobile learning.
NASA is using PowerPoint presentations on iPads to walk astronauts, engineers and scientists through basic maintenance procedures during special undersea research missions as part of its NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations project.
Mission Director Marc Reagan hopes that mobile presentations like those used in NEEMO could help astronauts in the event of a situation like Apollo 13, when emergency repairs need to be made on the fly.
While sales might not be as high-stakes as a space mission, your sales team still needs to be prepared, and biannual training sessions won’t cut it in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Mobile learning, or m-learning, offers a way to keep your team sharp using the tools people already carry with them every day. Our company incorporates m-learning into many of our initiatives for clients, and we know that it could be effectively used to train a mobile sales team.
Why You Should Go Mobile
M-learning is effective for sales training because salespeople are some of the busiest people in your company (who happen to have a lot of downtime). M-learning is an excellent way to capitalize on the free time they have while traveling and waiting for appointments to provide ongoing training.
Other benefits include:
- Uniformity. A comprehensive m-learning program ensures that every salesperson has access to the same training materials — regardless of his location. The result is a well-prepared sales force that is spreading a consistent message about your organization.
- Credibility. An m-learning program allows your sales team instant access to information when working with clients, and having those answers boosts confidence in your company’s expertise. Savant Systems, a home automation company, found that product specs often changed before it could retrain its salespeople. So Savant began pushing updates to the team via a mobile app, which gave its salespeople the ability to give customers the most up-to-date information.
- Customizable and affordable. Companies can develop apps tailored to their unique needs, which allows their sales team to stay relevant through ongoing training and makes it easy to stay connected to other team members. Organizations that can’t afford a custom app can still benefit from m-learning programs, though. Uploading need-to-know information to mobile devices via email and social media are cheap and effective ways to keep sales teams in the know. Delta Air Lines recently armed its flight attendants with Nokia smartphones so they could easily sell in-flight services, offer seat upgrades, report aircraft problems and even help passengers find ground transportation and up-to-the-minute gate information.
- Efficiency. M-learning allows team members to spend their mental energy wisely. Traditional learning assumes everyone is at the same level, whereas mobile options let team members scroll through information they’ve already mastered and focus on new material.
How to Make M-Learning Work
Mobile training and development programs are great ways to promote ongoing improvement among your sales team. However, it’s important to use m-learning effectively.
When designing a mobile program, think about a 3-by-5 inch index card. Use this as a guideline for creating mobile-friendly materials. Short snippets that can be consumed between meetings are more effective than massive uploads that take an hour to work through.
You should also track usage and metrics in m-learning programs to understand when your salespeople are using them and how they’re doing. This provides an opportunity to give them feedback and tips. An app that uses a multiple-choice quiz, for example, lets you see how well salespeople are absorbing new information.
M-learning is a fantastic tool, but it shouldn’t replace your core training program. Mobile programs work best as a means of providing ongoing updates and keeping salespeople learning, even when they have back-to-back business trips or a glut of client appointments.
Just like any form of training, m-learning is just another tool that helps equip your salespeople with the information they need to perform their jobs more effectively. When used in conjunction with other training methods, it can help keep your team sharp and confident, whether they’re across town, overseas, or underwater.