Making the Grade

By Cindy Waxer

These days, companies can’t afford to rely on instructor-led training approaches alone to educate their sales forces. Geographically limiting and time consuming, such traditional methods can have a disastrous affect on a company’s revenue. After all, it may take as many as six to nine months from the date of hire for a sales rep to become profitable with traditional training methods – a time-to-competency period that can rob a company of its competitive edge and productivity.

SmartForce’s Virtual Sales University SolutionSet, a tool specifically designed for the development of sales professionals, promises to educate sales forces while decreasing the time-to-productivity period.

SolutionSet covers topics relevant to short sales-cycle representatives and territorial and strategic account sales, as well as vertical market industry knowledge, desktop skills, product and process knowledge and core sales skills.

In an effort to encourage peer-to-peer and expert coaching, the SolutionSet also provides collaboration tools in the form of virtual classrooms, real-time mentoring with experts and chat sessions. In addition, SmartForce provides services for aligning e-learning initiatives with a company’s business strategy, and for customizing the SolutionSet to address specific business issues.

But that’s not all. While instructor-led training methods can result in inconsistencies across a company, SmartForce’s global infrastructure delivers consistent messages, sales strategies and visions, and enables companies to replicate best practices throughout their organization.

Michael Brennan, an IDC senior analyst says, “Well-targeted offerings such as [VSU SolutionSet] make it easier for organizations to realize the benefits of e-learning. By helping address such pain points effectively, vendors such as SmartForce are providing a foundation for [their] customers to use e-learning across their organizations to achieve measurable business results.”

That’s not to suggest, however, that instructor-led training methods are heading the way of the dinosaur. Rather, traditional methods, combined with e-learning tools such as SmartForce’s SolutionSet, promise to educate sales forces while providing a competitive advantage.