How to create effective product learning mobile applications for sales professionals? - Learning on the go!
I think mLearning is more synonymous to My Learning which is personal, portable and engaging than mobile learning. In the traditional approach, the sales people learn on the job at the risk of losing client. Companies spends significantly to create learning content for sales aids, reference materials, product manuals, online trainings etc. however haven’t seen much improvement in the performance using such means. Once the training is over you are so disconnected from people to ensure continuous learning, there is nothing that they can take away except what’s been learned in the class or online sessions and few handouts. Having worked with many sales people and delivering product trainings, I believe mLearning and sales training are made for each other.
Key challenges with the sales workforce are –
- Location: your sales force may be located in different regions and countries
- Industry: Working with totally different client industries
- Travel: always on the move
- Needy: scouting for more information for the client
- Busy: needless to say
This creates a great case for handing over a mobile application to them which they can use for additional learning during off-peak hours, travelling and of course in front of client to resolve queries on the spot. The recency of information matters a lot. Availability of up-to-date information (changes in pricing plans, addition of new features, product end of life announcements) can help sales people communicate effectively and precisely with potential clients.
Some useful tips are:
- Reuse the existing content unless you want to take a radical approach; don’t forget that creating a new content is project in itself. Designing content and functionality for mobile devices should be evolving process.
- Content needs to be short and to the point preferably context independent and nonlinear. I found this article quite useful for designing Mobile Learning Content
- Integrate external learning sources (what user community is talking about the product? or connecting with social media)
- Question whether interactivity is important, in most cases user does not need to interact, he just needs simple access to guided relevant information.
- Build for users (targeted end users are sales people) understanding functional & non-functional requirements and don’t forget the corporate brand guidelines.
- Distinguish clearly between the ‘learning application’ and ‘Performance Support Application(PSA)’
- Plan for online and offline environments considering the limitations and capabilities of the technologies involved.
- Build prototypes, test in small groups work on feedback and improvement areas, best way is to go in methodical way than do something big bang approaches.
- Product training applications needs not be only for sales, the same can be offered to customers and partners like agents, vendors and suppliers.
- Integrate with your CRM solution with which you would be able to put right controls and maintain the company guidelines (communication, data sharing, security etc.)
To enable an enhanced learning you provide relevant content in a structured and modular way, engage users in learning and assess the performance. In the subsequent section will discuss why it’s important to prototype and rapid ways of building mobile learning applications.