Capturing Lighting in a Bottle: Measuring the ROI of Agile Learning

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In school and at work alike, some of the most valuable lessons learned are those that take place outside of the classroom. In the sales environment specifically, some of the best, most treasured training tools are the interactions your salespeople are having in their day-to-day conversations with colleagues.

You can’t have your eyes on your sales team 24/7, but deep down you know they’re constantly working together and interacting (or at least you hope this is happening). Sure, they may be catching up on what they did over the weekend when they run into each other in the kitchen in between sales calls, but more likely than not they’re actually talking about work.

“What’s your trick to closing a deal on a prospect?”, they may ask each other. Or maybe they’re asking each other about the latest updates to your products and services. The goal of their conversations is to gain insights from the other to ultimately close more deals or generate more activity from their already existing accounts.

Unfortunately, you can’t eavesdrop on all these conversations taking place on a daily basis. The lessons learned are incorporated into reps’ daily behavior, but there’s no documentation of where or when they occurred.

As a manager, you need to find a way to capture that “lightning in a bottle,” because you risk losing a key component of sales readiness when you’re not able to capture those flashes of greatness.

Why You Need Informal Learning for Agile Sales Readiness

Why do your salespeople live for these daily conversations? Informal learning. Rather than traditional classroom-style learning, casual conversations with other salespeople in which they share insights between sessions are where critical knowledge transfer happens.

Imagine the ROI if you could capture this knowledge. You could begin to implement it in your training, change internal processes, or even create tools that improve your ability to grow your business.

These insights could then contribute to your team’s overall sales readiness, ensuring that reps have the knowledge and skills needed throughout a buyer’s journey.

Agile sales readiness hinges on informal learning, the kind of learning that happens when peers share insights and when managers and their teams debrief or check in.

Capturing the ROI of Informal Learning

As a manager or educator, you understand the value of informal learning. It happens every single day in and out of the office. Whether its learning how to get the perfect golf swing or confidently close a pitch, this tactic has a huge impact on performance.

Unfortunately, tracking and measuring the impact of these conversations is difficult. How do you measure something that occurs organically? There are no metrics or documentation to share.

But informal learning can—and should—be measured. According to The Brandon Hall Group’s research brief, Measuring the ROI of Informal Learning, “Organizations are finally realizing that people learn more of what they need to be effective at their job through informal channels, on-the-job experiences and coaching than they do through more formal means.”

Keys to Measuring ROI

Calculating the ROI of informal learning can be made easy with these four steps:

1. Record Baseline Data

Begin by tracking data related to the training process. How many people participated in training? How did they rank on assessments after?

2. Measure Performance

Next, analyze participants’ performance after training. Are they more efficient? Do they absorb new material and integrate it into their daily work more quickly? What’s the overall impact on business metrics?

3. Gather Informal Learning Insights

Next, gather observations about how informal learning happens at your company. Who are sales reps learning from? What type of knowledge is most frequently shared between employees? What questions are they asking? Which tools and devices do they use for learning improvement: video, mobile devices, social networks?

4. Assign Value

To determine ROI derived from informal learning, assign costs and benefits to each component. You can use different metrics, like a point value to people who participate the most or the those to whom others turn to for information. You can also assign points for frequently shared content or tools. Tie these numbers to KPIs and formal learning costs to begin to estimate the value of informal learning at your company.

Tracking and analyzing informal learning at your company using these four steps will yield actionable insights about your team’s sales readiness and how to move forward for success.

A version of this article was published on the Allego Allegories blog. You can read it here.

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