E-Learning: Your Ticket To Powerful and Efficient Training

Theres no secret to the bottom line in sales. Its all about productivity. Channel agents are continually bombarded with new products and new information to learn. And while there are no magic formulas — outside of the usual cadre of tenacity, hard work, product knowledge and a little charm — there is an emerging training tool that can help improve sales productivity, cut your companys training expense and fit efficiently into the modus operandi of most channel agents.

Web-based learning — or e-learning — is a powerful tool for any channel partners training arsenal. Using either self-paced learning or Web conferencing, the strengths are many and the limitations few. Heres how it works:

Online, self-paced learning is developed in advance and posted on a Web server. It is sometimes referred to as asynchronous training, because agents can access the training whenever they have access to the Internet. Training this way allows agents to focus on their priority sales while empowering them to structure their training time, tempo and venue. Its a win-win: Agents maintain control of their schedule and companies meet their training obligations.

Self-paced learning provides channel partners the following advantages:

  1. Flexible Learning.

Online channel programs enable agents to learn about new products, software or solutions at their own pace, where they may otherwise lack the latest technical or product knowledge necessary to accomplish their job. Agents can integrate online training into their schedule at a time that works best with their schedule. This flexibility allows them to preserve precious selling hours and move more products.

  • Improved Performance.
  • Participation can be tracked to gain insight into whether channel partners are absorbing and retaining the correct messages. Information about individual agents can be collected and stored, as can test scores. Agents can view their own test scores to gauge their understanding of the topic. And channel managers can view all test scores to see which messages are easy for its partners to digest or where the agents may run into problems.

  • Mobile Ready.
  • Since agents spend a majority of their time in the field, they can access the latest training information directly from their Web-enabled wireless devices. Mobile learning, or m-learning, is driving a new generation of e-learning solutions that are being implemented as an extension of the mobile infrastructure that channel agents already have in place.

  • Consistent Messages.
  • A consistent learning experience is presented to all agents at all times. No need for channel managers to worry about how to notify all agents of new training material. Content can be updated instantly and globally to all agents, communicating a consistent message.

  • Local Flavor.
  • Content can be presented in multiple languages and in the appropriate cultural context. Online training lets the channel obtain a global reach much more effectively than traditional methods. Translation and localization of material can be accomplished much more quickly and easily when an e-learning system is in place.

  • Engaging Content.
  • A complex, interactive training experience can be developed. Agents can engage in interactive exercises, view animations or simulations, listen to audio or watch video, download job aids and more.

  • Effortless Operation.
  • Agents can navigate the course and access information in a variety of ways — via next and back buttons (also called linear navigation), a table of contents, an index or a search function. Different learning paths can be developed for each agent, allowing individuals to access the materials they need.

  • Scalability.
  • Self-paced learning scales well, offering a low per-person cost over time with large audiences. And courses can be adjusted for low- and high-bandwidth users.

    Essentially online, self-paced learning is best suited for a large group of agents requiring critical learning material that does not change often. Self-paced learning is an excellent mode to role out product information to a large group of agents for a new product launch.

    Web Conferencing

    As an adjunct to asynchronous learning, Web conferencing is a powerful tool. Web conferencing, or synchronous training, occurs in real time, with a live instructor who shares a slide presentation or other visual materials via the Web. This method is best suited for content that will be delivered once and just-in-time to a relatively small, remote group of channel agents. Web conferencing shares the benefits of asynchronous learning as a scalable, engaging and relevant mode to creatively deliver a unified message.

    Additionally, Web conferencing is quick to deploy. A subject-matter expert can conduct a Web conference to the channel with very little notice. Its also an economic choice; startup costs and the costs to conduct a training session are low. Effective visuals can typically be developed using Microsoft PowerPoint. Web conferencing also can support live events and can allow live discussions, live interaction with a subject matter expert, polling and collection of feedback. These events can then be archived for later viewing.

    Learn More with E-Learning

    Determining the right e-learning solution will satisfy the channels specific needs and provide tangible results. And agents using the appropriate online learning solution, whether connected from their office computer or from their Web-enabled wireless device, will only help their bottom lines.

    Charlie Gillette is president and CEO of Knowledge Anywhere Inc.(, which works with corporations to educate sales teams with online training tools. Gillette also was a featured speaker at this falls Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

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