In that 1990s sci-fi favorite, The Matrix, Neo trains extensively in a variety of martial arts, weaponry and more to save what is left of mankind from “Agents” that seek to annihilate them. The “training” for Neo lasts about 10 hours. All he does is “jack” into the Matrix and get a high-speed, comprehensive skills download. Immediately thereafter, he became the definition of a selfless, a$$-kicking hero.
Instantaneous downloadable skillsets. Whoa. Hours of our lives would be reclaimed in an instant.
If this was the case in sales…oh my…the possibilities would be endless. Companies and managers could just upload the latest selling strategies, techniques, content, trends, and data directly into the minds of their sales professionals. Say goodbye to the need for facilitated classroom training, case studies, workbooks, and workshops.
But let’s think about this for a minute. Neo already had hardware implanted into his brain, thanks to the machines who raised him as a human battery. He’s part computer himself. Same goes for Morpheus, Trinity and the rest of the team. Sorry, guys.
Humans are not machines. Not even close. Sales professionals are human. Each one ticks differently. Each has a different set of strengths and weaknesses and a different learning style.
We may not have the Matrix’s “insta-download” capabilities, but sales training and coaching now employ technologies that are getting us closer. Learning still takes time and effort but technologies such as gamification, scenario-based role playing, just-in-time (JIT) video coaching, and real-time peer collaboration are helping to accelerate the learning and the performance of sales professionals. Thank you, technology.
Technology is necessary but not sufficient, however, to drive sales performance. Take Neo’s counterpart, Trinity, for instance. Trinity needed an insta-download while in the field to fly the helicopter used to rescue Morpheus from the Agents. Less detailed learning or content delivered in a less timely manner would probably have spelled doom for Morpheus. Trinity learned what she needed to learn in the exact manner she needed to learn it to save Morpheus. The same goes for sales professionals. We should determine exactly what each sales professional needs to learn and how they need to receive it to be most effective in their role. We can do this by understanding and identifying their different strengths, weaknesses and learning styles. Tailor the content and the technologies to the human, not the other way around.
Companies and managers have potential “Neos” at hand in their salesforces. Average performing sales professionals can become “Neos” if managers and companies provide learning resources and technologies in ways that enhance the innate strengths and abilities of the sales professional while addressing their unique gaps and weaknesses. Creating and delivering high-value learning opportunities that are easily accessible at a time and place convenient to the sales professional requires us to take our efforts a step further. We need to budget the right amount of time, resources and money in the right areas in an informed, prioritized manner and leverage the right technologies. Do this and…boom…a salesforce with more “Neos” is within our grasp.