Setting Training Objectives for Efficient Learning

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Sales training is essential for any business to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. When time is of the essence to close deals and equip sellers with the knowledge they need to feel confident, efficient learning is a must. But not all sales training programs are created equal. One of the key factors that can make or break the effectiveness of a sales training program is defining and implementing core training objectives. With clear and specific training objectives, sales reps can learn what they need to succeed quickly.

“First of all, you need to understand the objectives of the training,” said Aurore Pautet, senior sales enablement manager at Malt. “Usually, when you create training, it is because you identified a lack of knowledge and a real need for your sales team. Then, with that clear context, you can identify why and how [the training] can be useful for sales.”

Below, learn more about the importance of defining training objectives to drive efficiency in learning and how to create effective objectives for teams with a template to help get started.

The Purpose of Training Objectives

Creating meaningful, relatable, and effective training objectives is vital for the overall success of the reps who participate in training sessions. Training objectives help ensure that the most critical aspects of the program are focused and everyone who completes it feels confident about the skills they’ve gained. Objectives can be seen as a North Star for a specific program or course and help enablement teams lead the charge in designing the program that specifically meets the needs of the objective.

A training objective is simply a statement of what learners should be able to do or achieve due to a training session. It ensures all learners have a shared understanding of what they will be learning. The objectives should also communicate how reps can apply what they’ve learned upon completion of the training.

Driving efficiency across the organization, especially in sales training and learning, doesn’t mean it comes at the expense of effectiveness due to haste. Objectives in training can help drive clear focus to address specific knowledge or skill gaps with tailored delivery and design. Objectives can be concise and easy to understand while also clearly mapping the purpose of the training program and how reps should be expected to engage with it.

“My advice, in terms of keeping training programs agile and flexible, is to keep the message in training very simple and very concise,” said Daniel Haden, global sales enablement leader. “If you can, keep your training programs short to strengthen your engagement because you’re more likely to engage with learning that seems digestible and possible to fit into your busy day.”

How to Create Effective Training Objectives

The first step in creating a realistic and ultimately practical training objective is to understand the clear purpose of the program. Identifying the need for a training program can help clarify for key stakeholders and learners why the program is being designed in the first place.

For example, there may be a need to enhance rep performance around objection handling. Once the program’s purpose is clear, outcomes can be defined based on what learners should be able to do upon completion of the program (e.g., a rep can confidently identify, understand, and respond to different objections).

“We always keep ‘why’ as a central question to everything we’re doing,” said Kathryn Schoeberlein, GTM enablement, global programs at LinkedIn. “Why is this important? Why is this our business objective? Why do this activity? Leading with a why helps learners think about how the program can be helpful or successful for them.”

Setting clear parameters that align the training objectives with the company’s key priorities helps reinforce the value of the program. To uncover objectives that can align with what matters most to the organization, consider asking the following questions:

  • Who is being trained?
  • What changed behavior is being asked of this specific audience?
  • How will this training test whether the learner can do the behavior?
  • What is the degree to which the behavior must be performed?
  • How do the desired outcomes contribute to the company’s key priorities?
  • How does this benefit a rep’s productivity and performance, contributing to the company’s revenue goals?

With objectives that align with business priorities, SMART goals for learning can be developed to support those objectives. SMART goals are often considered the go-to standard when translating objectives into tangible goals to achieve accurate results.

  • S – Specific: The first step outlines clearly what to improve based on what the objective defined. Focus on one specific skill or piece of knowledge for each training objective.
  • M – Measurable: Attach a metric to track progress (e.g., a 10% increase in quota attainment).
  • A – Attainable: Given the allotted time and resources, ensure the goal is realistic for all learners. This step is crucial to ensure efficiency is at the core of building and delivering the appropriate program to learners.
  • R – Relevant: Draw the correlation between the goal and the top business priorities. This step helps answer the critical “Why?” question. Learners will be able to understand why they are enrolled in the training, what they will achieve upon completion, and how it will help them succeed in the eyes of the business.
  • T – Time-bound: Determine when reps should be able to achieve the outlined goal. Deadlines can help cultivate a sense of urgency among learners that will help them prioritize training.

When time is of the essence and efficiency in learning is a must, training objectives provide a focus for reps to understand the training program’s value to help improve performance. Setting accurate and clear training objectives at the onset of any learning program can set the tone, expectations, and predicted outcomes that drive success. Without those guide posts, it can be challenging to measure what sticks with reps to help them succeed and what doesn’t.

“You want structure without rigidity, and I think that approach to learning can help develop salespeople who feel empowered to take what they’ve learned from the learning but actually apply it in their own way to their own set of customers,” said Haden.

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