Dec 5, 2022  |  By Em Ascano, Head of Operations and Education Development

How to Become an Organization of Continuous Learners

It’s a vicious cycle. Frontline sales reps get a new job, and are excited to earn commissions. But the lack of real-world training makes it hard to boost sales and earnings. They don’t see a potential for future growth, and they’re not earning enough to put up with the various challenges of customer service. 

In this economic climate, this story has become far more common, and more dangerous, for organizations. The US is experiencing drastic labor shortages with food, retail, leisure, and hospitality among the industries with the most unfilled jobs.

The declining birth rate means that this issue will persist. There are simply fewer young workers to fill these jobs. 

L&D departments have a big role to play when it comes to improving company culture and retaining workers. Training impacts employee earnings, which makes workers more likely to stick around. It also helps them see the potential for upward mobility.

Continuous learning is one of the best tools to have in your arsenal, because it alters your company culture for the better. From the high-level strategy to the small details, here’s how to help your frontline sales reps become continuous learners.

Create a company mission statement around learning

What’s your mission when it comes to learning? What do you want your organization to embody?

For example, Microsoft made a public effort to transition from being the company that knows it all to the company that learns it all. And Novartis shared their commitment to curiosity. This mission was designed to encourage employees to keep developing, positively impact the work experience, improve worker-manager relationships, and increase employee retention

Focusing your company's mission around continuous learning can inspire the entire organization to be better learners. But be prepared to back up this call with action. 

Go beyond workshops

L&D departments can get stuck in this idea that learning only happens in organized workshops and LMS videos

But workshop-only learning environments are very restrictive. They relegate learning to special times of the year and send the message that learning is something you do occasionally—instead of on a daily or weekly basis. Workshops also don’t offer the opportunity to reinforce what you’re learning.

To really transform your organization into one that learns continuously, you need to bring learning into the regular work environment. (More on that below.)

Cater to the ways the people really learn

Workshops and LMS content tends to go in one ear and out the other. Why? The learner is in a passive role, and learning is not customized.When information is impersonal, it doesn’t stick.

Research shows that active learning is far more effective. In sales, people usually rely on role playing to help reps apply their learning. But role playing is awkward, and sales reps don’t  like it. Instead, you should allow sellers to talk one-on-one about best practices and brainstorm solutions. 

This leads to more natural sharing that’s more effective than forced practice.

Organize hassle-free peer-to-peer learning 

Facilitating peer-to-peer sessions can be an operational nightmare. Instead, you need to implement a solution that does the heavy lifting for you. 

With Upduo, reps chat with each other in guided one-to-one sessions that take about 10 minutes. The session prompts keep the conversations on track. And the app does the heavy lift of matching for you.

In an Upduo session, mobile device reps can take turns sharing how they pitch device protection, the common objections they face, and how they handle those challenges. 

Our education team will work with you to develop guided sessions that will help you improve just about any metric. 

Our platform algorithmically pairs people together from across your organization. If you don’t have enough employees for there to always be someone to chat with, then you can create windows for reps to hop on so there will be enough people available.

“There are pockets of experts across the organization and within the organization. How do you tap into that and get them to share their expertise? Upduo brings to life another way for people to learn together that would otherwise be too  complicated or more expensive.” - Rob Lauber, L&D consultant and former Chief Learning Officer 

Retain and pass down knowledge from experienced sellers

An organization devoted to continuous learning must also have mechanisms in place to transfer knowledge to new employees. 

You can create special parameters within Upduo to pair seasoned reps with inexperienced ones. The new sellers will gain on-the-job knowledge, while your senior reps will get to reinforce what they already know by teaching it to someone else. This is also a great opportunity to let seasoned reps flex their  management muscles and see if they enjoy coaching  others.

Offer opportunities for managers to connect

While Upduo is great for pairing people of different experience levels together, it can also match up those in the same role. 

They can chat about aspects of the job that are unique to their role. Without these helpful moments, they might not have other opportunities to chat with someone in a similar position, especially if they’re the only manager in their store or region. 

“Usually managers are on a large Zoom call with a lot of people, and they don’t have the opportunity to connect one-on-one. But those interactions are super valuable. With Upduo, managers can talk through shared challenges and brainstorm ideas and best practices. We get tons of feedback saying how nice it is to connect with people that are in the same position.” - Lily Young, Education Enablement Manager at Upduo

Meet employees’ holistic needs in a job

With staff shortages and turnover rates high across all industries, employers need to focus on retention programs. Retaining staff means you’re retaining knowledge, efficiency, agility, and prowess.

Employers should focus on meeting the modern needs of employees, such as scheduling flexibility, finding purpose in the workplace, and seeing the potential for career growth.

Moving from occasional learning to continuous learning is a big shift. But with the right intentions, software, and implementation, it’s possible.

Power up your frontline sales team with peer-to-peer learning in quick weekly sessions. Learn more about Upduo.