Sales managers have to deal with multiple priorities. They have to take calls on the go and find it very difficult to estimate the impact of one decision on other parameters and overall financial performance of the organisation. These decisions can vary from schemes and promotions to product mix, sales planning to manage dealer performance, inventory management to dealer ROI. Apart from this, they have to look after sales force planning, ensuring compliance, and relationship management with all the stakeholders. These factors are so deeply integrated that any decision regarding one of them can have a snowball effect on the entire P&L in medium to long run.
To overcome these challenges, organisations conduct regular sales training interventions with the ultimate aim of improving sales performance. Sales leaders also spend a large part of their time in mentoring sales managers for better decision making. Most methods of sharing knowledge and experience fail to give enough hands-on experience and mostly restricted to only 1-2 among multiple factors that sales managers have to deal with regularly. Although all these methods attempt to make noticeable increments in the skills and knowledge, sales success is all about taking action things rather than merely understanding actions.
Simulation-based training programmes helps sales managers experience real-world scenarios, circumstances, or examples through applications and situations in a risk-free environment. Digital simulations use a wide range of techniques to provide information on various effects of each action in an impactful and practical manner that truly makes a difference in the sales process. If used appropriately, simulations can act as catalysts to propel the organization toward success. By reducing risks, employees gain confidence and can implement learnings from previous mistakes in a no-risk training environment.
Basis of my experience in sales and distribution, some of the most confusing scenarios that can be simulated digitally and can reduce the learning curve significantly are
- Salesforce planning
- Design of trade schemes and incentive
- Inventory management
- Distribution design and territory mapping
- Target planning and allocation to markets and channel
- Marketing spends and budgeting
- Coverage width and depth
- Product Mix planning
- Dealer ROI Vs. Company ROI
- Response to competitors scheme
- Seasonality planning
- On ground activations
- Van coverage and activities
- Training needs identification and planning
Listed below are five benefits of digital simulations on an effective sales training program.
- Real-world Experience
Directly allowing sales managers to use live situations in the market place to implement their learnings can prove to be counter-productive. As such, a few wrong calls can have costly repercussions such as incorrect product mix, bloated inventory, or loss of counter share.
Through simulations, you circumvent such disasters by familiarizing team members with various real-world market situations. The simulation exercises exactly look and functions like the real thing, giving the perfect environment to learn and ensure that nothing is left to the imagination.
- Net Practice
Everyone makes mistakes in the initial phase of implementation. It takes many attempts to perfect any new skill or changing market dynamics. Simulation allows for multiple tries and makes the learner repeat the entire process until perfection and makes one well versed with the impact of various decisions. Employees can navigate within a simulated space that provides real-world examples and scenarios that offer a chance to use newly taught skills.
- Involved Participation and Instant Corrections
Conventional learning methods can only evaluate through tests and assessments at periodic intervals during the course, whereas simulations is tested on the entire business activity. In case of any negative impact of a business decision, the user gets immediate feedback and helps identify and correct their shortcomings.
- Measurement and Productivity
One crucial benefit of simulation-based training is that it can usually be measured. Future programmes can be modified with credible data and insights collected through tracking, analyzing, and reporting on training data. The collected information can also be shared with departments and managers to be used as a part of employee assessment. Employees who have hands-on knowledge and use of simulation tools are more confidence, fewer errors and mastery needed for job skills.
- Reduced Costs and Time
Companies can reduce training costs by implementing simulation training in their learning and development programmes. With improved retention and practical, hands-on approaches, simulation training can dramatically reduce the amount of time and costs associated with employee training. With frequent practice through updated simulated scenarios, companies do not bear the costs of travel by calling in employees for training. Employees up-skilled via simulation are up to speed on new competitive scenarios.
Please reach out to me if you have any suggestions, comments, or would like to know more about how some of the most competitive organisations are using simulations for implementing robust training interventions.