December 15th, 2016

5 Essential Elements of an Effective & Efficient Online Training Program

Effective Training Program Design

A major challenge facing many of today’s organizations is the need to find a training program that is both effective and efficient because taking sellers out of the field for days at a time is no longer an option for many companies in a fast-paced, ultra-competitive business environment.

Time-out-of-field is not the only cost associated with traditional approaches to training. Many teams are geographically dispersed, and hospitality and travel costs for a multi-day training event can mount quickly. Technology can help reduce the costs associated with training, enhance the learning experience, reduce time-out-of-market, and improve knowledge retention.

Finding the right technological solution for your training program needs is often easier said than done. The key to selecting the best online training program starts with finding a solution that accommodates all learning styles and delivers a consistent and effective experience that fits seamlessly into the participant’s workday. At a minimum, training solutions should:

  1. Appeal to a multi-generational workforce
  2. Be based upon learning best practices
  3. Drive sustainable business results
  4. Enhance classroom learning experiences
  5. Offer a roadmap for knowledge retention

Building A Training Program That Appeals to a Multi-Generational Workforce

A recent white paper from Richardson explored the changing workforce. According to Pew Research, by 2020, nearly half of America’s workforce will be made up of digital native millennials, who switch their attention across media types an average of 27 times per hour. While millennials are the first true digital natives, the truth is that all generations now use mobile devices more frequently than ever.

The way that we communicate, spend our leisure time, and learn has changed, as have our expectations of the content we consume. Mobile technology has made personalized content the expectation rather than the exception. Technology makes it possible to deliver a highly personalized learning experience: mobile, on-the-go content puts users in control of when and where they engage with lessons; gamification maintains engagement and creates accountability; and video-based scenarios create relatable moments that can be tried out in the classroom. These technological features make learning fun and meet the expectations of modern learners. It is also great for busy sales professionals; they can complete learning modules between meetings.

Training Programs Based Upon Learning Best Practices

A challenge for many learners is the issue of cognitive overload. Cognitive overload happens when the amount of mental effort required to complete a learning exercise exceeds a person’s cognitive capability. Cognitive overload is known to negatively affect a person’s ability to learn. Learning systems, especially online training programs that lack a synchronous learning environment, need to be designed to mitigate instances of inadvertent cognitive overload.

When designing online learning systems, it is important to be aware of the cognitive processing demands that are being placed on the user. Bite-sized learning modules manage processing demands because the content is delivered in short, easily digestible bursts of information. Learning modules also give the learner the opportunity to take breaks between lessons to absorb and process the information.

Eliminating non-essential inputs from the learning interface is another important factor in reducing cognitive overload. Designing online training programs that feature an intuitive user experience reduces the amount of mental fuel required to complete learning modules, which allows users to focus their cognitive energies on skill- and knowledge-building content.

Another way to help learners succeed in a virtual learning environment is to synchronize content presentation. Studies have shown that learning is more effective when narration and animation are presented simultaneously. Below you can see the effectiveness of synchronizing narration and animation in action in a short clip of a video learning module from Richardson’s AccelerateTM online training program.

Training Programs That Drive Sustainable Business Results

The old adage “What gets measured gets managed” is more than a cliché. It is a proven tenant of business.

The ability to capture data through technological tools helps sellers take control of their own learning and helps managers track their skill development and provide insightful coaching. Features like assessments, formative quizzes, and learner confidence scoring can deliver analytics and provide visibility into the business and inform learning. These tools provide built-in touchpoints to provide the data sales organizations need to show how far learners have come and where they need more focus.

Training Programs That Enhance Classroom Learning Experiences

In a blended learning scenario, sellers develop a knowledge foundation before entering the classroom and they are able to develop an understanding of the areas in which they need additional training.

Participants have the opportunity to formulate sophisticated questions in advance of the instructor-led training that enhance their learning experiences and the experiences of other learners. Blended learning also makes classroom time more productive because the instructor can focus on more advanced topics and higher-level learning modules, like role playing.

Training Programs That Offer a Roadmap for Knowledge Retention

A technological sales training solution should extend learning beyond the initial training to ensure that the sellers are applying the knowledge they have gained to their interactions in the field. Sellers should have continued access to lesson content and have a plan in place with their managers that uses the data collected from skill assessments to facilitate an ongoing coaching conversation.

Blended training platforms, which overlap between online and classroom environments, must be designed with the learners’ mindsets as the chief consideration. At Richardson, we are trying to understand and serve the complexity of learning styles that may exist in a workforce through initiatives such as our Accelerate program. The training needs of the workforce are changing, and organizations that want to give their people the best opportunity to succeed have to change with them. Developing new delivery modalities and content that is optimized for efficient, effective, practical, and sustainable learning is a great start towards implementing training programs that result in positive behavior change.

Learn more about Richardson’s AccelerateTM online training program by clicking here to download an informational brochure.
Download Information on Accelerate - Richardson's Sales Training Program Technology

About The Author: Meghan Steiner

Meghan oversees the planning and execution of all marketing and demand generation activities for Richardson. She is responsible for managing sales enablement and sales support efforts, creating new business opportunities, increasing company, product, and service awareness in existing and dormant accounts through integrated campaigns, partner marketing, product marketing, and international marketing programs.

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