Our Thinking

Out-learn the Competition: Using Learning Technologies to Power Sales

Luke Kempski

Even with technology playing an increasing role in connecting buyers and sellers, most buying decisions still happen as the result of person-to-person interactions. Your marketing program may attract the targeted buyer but fail to win the sale because your “sellers” lack the required knowledge and skills. Buyers expect your company’s representatives to have in-depth knowledge about your products and services. They also expect someone who understands their unique needs to lead them through the sales process.

I see many organizations turning to technology to help improve the sales results of their customer interactions. E-Learning, social learning, and mobile sales support applications can improve the performance of everyone involved in the sales cycle.


Even in the down economy, many of our clients have invested in training their sales teams. For instance, Kennametal has rapidly developed and globally distributed dozens of elearning modules focused on teaching their people how to communicate the value of their extensive product line.

Beyond the product tutorial, elearning courses can teach associates to follow a defined sales process. The sales process courses emphasize qualification, communications and negotiation skills that can be applied with different products and different types of customers. To teach higher level skills, elearning applications can place the learner in a virtual environment to practice simulated customer interactions.

Social Learning

To supplement formal sales training, we see companies implementing enterprise based social networking and social learning platforms. These might include internal YouTube sites, blogs, wikis or social networking extensions to learning management systems. Social networking platforms provide those involved in selling an environment for sharing experiences, best practices and customer success stories. Once in place, these networks can quickly spread learning and insights that help win sales.

Mobile Learning and Sales Support

The iPad and similar portable devices make a whole new generation of sales support tools possible. From an iPad the sales representative and customer can jointly go through the product selection and purchasing process while still benefiting from a personal consultation. Imagine the automotive salesperson capturing your wants, showing you options, demonstrating features and comparing prices without being strapped to a desk. These tools relieve the stress of memorizing and help the representative focus on the customer. We’ve seen this with one of our clients, Central Penn College. They use an iPad with a video of their brand promise to support recruiters as they consult with prospective employees and students.

It’s a competitive world and you need everyone in your organization who talks to customers to have the knowledge and skills to help make sales happen. With elearning, social learning and mobile sales support tools, you can out-learn your competition and grow your market share.

Note: Join JPL’s Luke Kempski and Steve Hulse as they discuss this topic at the PA Distance Learning Association annual meeting on November 19th. www.padla.org

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