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Sales training on mobile technology -- how to create sales incentive

We are having a hard time convincing our sales reps to use our new mobile CRM technology. How long can I expect it to take for them to get up to speed? What are some training standards?

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Ah, the check-and-egg conundrum: sales reps want mobile technology to make them more productive, but they don't want to compromise their productivity to learn how to use it. I don't think you've got a snowball's chance in summer to "convince" them to use the mobile technology unless there's something HUGE in terms of what's in it for them.

Are you in sales or in IT? If you're in IT, go find a partner in crime on the sales team who can help translate benefits into "sales speak" and lend credibility to your effort. Consider how important it is to get the reps using the new technology. Even if they originally demanded it, it may in actuality be a 'nice-to-have' category rather than a 'need-to-have' category and you may as well stop wasting your time on convincing them. If it's very important, then sales management WILL have to make an investment in training.

So one important training standard to adopt is to train sales reps to use system-enabled processes, not systems. This means that mobility is of no consequence unless it is inextricably linked to how a process functions. Pure systems training (e.g., learning features and keystrokes in a classroom) is fairly useless. Organizations must approach training from a process point of view — where the technology is "baked" directly into the DNA of the sales process — and this is just one of several process enablers. This requires a significant cultural investment in training, such as having sales reps themselves do the training, instead of having just an IT trainer or only offering online training. I recommend pulling well-respected, technology-savvy sales reps temporarily out of the field to design a "day in the life of" training program. These sales reps then "train the trainers" (other sales professionals) to facilitate one-on-one or very small group training sessions, where the focus is on teaching sales reps how to seamlessly incorporate technology into how they sell.

This was first published in August 2006

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