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The Role of Technology in Sales Learning and Training

October 2006
Author:  Eilif Trondsen
Contributor:  Rob Edmonds

Many publications of the Learning-on-Demand (LoD) program address the role of technology in learning and training in the extended enterprise. A recent report, Improving Business Performance through Partner Learning, examines the role of learning in business partnerships, including channel partners (indirect sales force). The current report complements our earlier analyses by focusing on one of the key customer interfaces: the direct-sales force. Arguably, in this place in organizations, learning and training can have the greatest business-performance impact, because even incremental improvements in the efficiency or effectiveness of the sales force can significantly increase revenue.

Employees in today's organizations are becoming increasingly mobile and facing increasingly severe time and performance pressures. These characteristics apply particularly to sales professionals, who are constantly on the go. Organizations pay a high opportunity cost when salespeople, who typically have low tolerance for traditional training, must sit in traditional training sessions. Thus, learning and training managers and executives face major challenges in meeting the growing learning needs of their sales forces. Not surprisingly, technology is finding increasing use in these learning operations, and a growing number of companies are now looking for and experimenting with innovative ways to meet the learning and training needs of their sales professionals.

This report draws on interviews and discussions that I and other LoD analysts have had with sales managers and executives, including many in California's Silicon Valley, and presents a picture of how learning and training operations for sales professionals are evolving in a variety of companies and of what role technology is playing today and is likely to play tomorrow. Almost all the companies we have met with intend to expand their use of technology significantly in the next few years and are looking for innovative approaches that will result in flexible, engaging learning experiences that meet the needs and preferences of increasingly demanding sales professionals.

Download the report here:
The Role of Technology in Sales Learning and Training