The Power of Microlearning to Drive Productivity
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For many, microlearning is already a part of everyday life. From troubleshooting a computer problem by quickly watching a video tutorial, to learning and practicing a new language through short modules, microlearning allows learners to more efficiently and effectively learn about a specific topic. By translating this learning method from everyday life to sales training, sales enablement practitioners can assist rep’s in increasing their productivity.
Reps are looking to learn more information in less time. Often, traditional enablement programs can be delivered in long-form training sessions that take time out of a rep’s day. The length of the session as well as the amount of information presented can leave reps feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what is critical to take away and apply to their own work.
Training opportunities do not have to be time-consuming to be effective. By delivering essential information and content in short, concentrated, and accessible microlearning sessions, practitioners can more effectively enable reps to retain and apply new knowledge and skills in their day-to-day work.
Productivity is the result of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of reps. For enablement professionals, creating effective training opportunities means homing in on what reps need most. Here are three ways that targeted microlearning can drive more productivity for reps.
1. Giving Reps Time Back to Focus on Selling
Reps, as the frontline of the organization, are an important part of driving revenue. To perform their jobs effectively, they need as much time as possible during the week to dedicate to fulfilling the requirements of their positions. Microlearning gives reps back that time that would have been devoted to hours-long training sessions – driving more productivity during the week.
“[Microlearning is] this shift in mindset from a training and enablement piece, where I can take three days to make a change, to how do I do it in an hour and how do I do it impactfully,” said Dan Storey, director of sales training at Finastra.
It is crucial for practitioners to design microlearning sessions with the value of rep’s time in mind. If they’re not out in the field because they’re in training, they’re not generating revenue for the organization. Working to distill key topics into sessions that can be consumed in just a few minutes can help reps to be more inclined to invest time in learning and developing skills to improve their productivity.
“If we could plan some small bites of learning into our everyday life, it gets us further than blocking only two hours for one day at the end of the week, let’s say,” said Sonia Pupaza, field enablement manager at Camunda. “Those small chunks of time build your long-lasting habits of learning something new every day rather than those two hours just because you have to.”
Designing microlearning opportunities throughout the week that are informed by how much time reps can dedicate each week can encourage the long-lasting habits that increase a rep’s productivity. In addition, the purpose of these opportunities is to set reps up for success by reinforcing their ability to reuse and repurpose the information they are learning. Fostering this ability promotes rep productivity since it allows them to apply the learned knowledge and skills to many different situations.
2. Consolidating Learning for Quick Access
As the duration of trainings increases, practitioners can begin to experience a diminishing rate of return on rep attention and engagement. With many responsibilities and other distractions pulling their attention away from training, rep’s engagement and absorption of content over time can decrease. By consolidating long trainings into multiple microlearning opportunities available in one common location, enablement professionals can capitalize on rep’s full attention – increasing the overall impact and retention of critical information.
“The number one way you can really try to streamline things for your sales reps is consolidation,” said Renee O’Donnell, associate director of training and development at TheraputicsMD. “So consolidating things down to one place where they can get the most bang for their buck information-wise.”
Whether that is critical information concentrated into short videos, or all of the content on a single topic gathered into one location on a platform, consolidating information will help reps to access what they need more efficiently. In addition, effectively streamlining the learning process by breaking it down into sections and making it more easily accessible can encourage reps to more frequently engage and interact with the new information and content.
When developing microlearning experiences, practitioners can extract and highlight the most valuable content from longer training sessions. Doing this will allow reps to hear from subject matter experts, relevant leaders, and other reps while eliminating non-topic specific sections of the training session.
“We use short training materials to cover how-to videos for tools and other stuff that can be covered in such a short time,” said Pupaza. “We also extract short success stories or interviews from longer presentation sessions and webinars. For the longer presentation sessions and webinars that the leaders want us to share with our team, the least I can do is to add some timestamps to help navigate faster and go directly to the information of their immediate use.”
Concentrating key messages into short microlearning sessions, and emphasizing them with attention grabbers like success stories, can be more impactful for reps looking to increase their productivity by upskilling. In addition, when longer sessions are needed, sales enablement professionals can provide reps with time savers like navigation prompts for presentations or video transcripts for multiple options of how to consume the content.
3. Tailoring Learning to Rep’s Needs
Often, with general enablement programs and trainings, the most value goes to the newer reps, leaving the more experienced reps to sit through presentations on information that they already know. To combat this, microlearning offers reps a more personalized and productive experience that is informed by rep’s prior skills and knowledge.
“One of the things that we’re really trying to focus on this year is just-in-time [learning],” said Storey. “Taking the big concepts, breaking them down into smaller things, and inserting them into the workflow as much as possible.”
What gives microlearning the capability to provide such a tailored experience is its ability to use a just-in-time (JIT) learning strategy when needed. This strategy focuses on making trainings readily available to reps right as they need it in their day-to-day work. To effectively apply the JIT learning strategy to microlearning, practitioners can use consolidation techniques to gather critical content and information into one location. Creating one easily accessible hub for microlearning sessions can help reps to quickly access relevant trainings just-in-time to apply it to their current work. It also allows practitioners to more accurately track what information reps are looking to learn most and where there may be gaps that need to be filled.
“Using the latest tools and resources, podcasts, for instance, communities, and nano and microlearning, you have the ability to put just-in-time information into the hands of the individuals who need it faster,” said Jennifer Wahl, director of professional services enablement at Informatica.
By making all of the content available for reps to use just-in-time, they can have more autonomy over what they are learning and when. This means newer reps can take time to go over more fundamental content while senior reps can do more targeted skill work for specific issues. Encouraging reps to address their own knowledge gaps as they experience challenges in their day-to-today work – rather than waiting for it to be addressed in general training – can help them to upskill more effectively and efficiently.
Embracing microlearning takes both a shift in training design and a change in mindset. By peeling away the layers of content from long-form trainings into smaller learning opportunities, sales enablement professionals can expose and convey the essential information that reps need most. This allows reps to spend more time on their day-to-day tasks, more efficiently access content about new skills and information, and tailor their training to their personal areas of growth. With more time and a better understanding of the specific information, skills, and tools that directly benefit their current work, reps can more effectively increase their overall productivity.