Keep it Real and Keep it Mobile

Posted by Mary Hiers, Guest Contributor on 9/7/16 4:06 PM

Training programsMany of us have already used mobile incentive technology, even if we didn't know that was what it's called. If you have ever used a mobile app that gives you digital reward points for completing some action, you've used mobile incentive technology. It combines the draw of incentive programs with the convenience of mobility, and it can be used in sales team training as well.

An organization could, for example, issue a certain number of incentive reward points to sales team members who complete a mobile training unit, or who reach a certain level in a gamified training app. Points could go onto a leaderboard, or even be redeemable for tangible rewards. It's another method sales trainers can tap into when designing sales training programs, which for pharma sales reps, have to be effective, efficient, and engaging. It's a natural extension of the mobile-first lives that many of us lead both on and off the job.

Incentivizing On-the-Go Training

Sales professionals tend to be competitive by nature, and pharma sales representatives must combine that drive with extensive technical knowledge that must be updated regularly. The simple addition of a push notification to let a trainee know he or she has just earned a certain number of points can add a pleasant boost to an ordinary workday.

Some companies choose to reinforce training in this way, delivering rewards for passing training quizzes, attaining a certain level in a training game, or even correctly answering a relevant daily "trivia" question that can test long-term retention of important concepts. One of the best things about incentivizing on-the-go training is that it's fast. Just a few taps or swipes, and a rep can take in and demonstrate knowledge of training content - content they may well use in their next sales call.

Bite-Sized Training Goes Well With Mobile Training

The wisdom and effectiveness of delivering training in smaller, "bite-sized" chunks has been repeatedly demonstrated in many training environments, including pharma training. The heavy training loads that used to be the standard were prone to cause memory overload, which impedes absorption and retention of new knowledge and makes it harder for learners to apply what they have learned and retained on the job.

People learn better when complicated, large concepts (like those that pharma sales reps are regularly expected to learn) are broken down into smaller, more manageable training modules. These smaller learning chunks also work better with the concept of spiral learning, where concepts are revisited intermittently throughout further lessons. Mobile learning is perfect for the types of mini-lessons, based on one or two key concepts, that are so effective for teaching new concepts.

Analytics Can Work with Mobile Training Too

Another terrific advantage to making use of tablets and smartphones for training is that training modules can be designed to incorporate valuable analytics. In fact, that's a requirement for organizations that plan to incentivize training with, say, a points or leader-board system. Retailers have done this for a long time. The collection of analytics based on actions people take on their mobile devices is hugely important to determining what people want to buy and what makes them carry on throughout the purchase process. This same type of analytics collection can be put to work evaluating how well trainees are learning.

Analytics can be an informational goldmine for the sales trainer, particularly when new concepts are taught. If nobody has been able to beat a certain level of a training game, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate it and figure out if there is a flaw in the lesson. Analytics can also be valuable for trainers to monitor how well trainees are doing relative to each other, and they can help inform future lesson plans and techniques.

Combine Interactivity with Respect for Sales Team Time

Using mobility, incentives, and bite-sized training modules in pharma sales training combines the advantages of interactivity with respect for learners' time. It's not easy to take a team out of the field, put them in a classroom for a week, and then send them back out in hopes they'll put what they've learned to work. For one thing, it takes sales reps out of their normal habitat (the sales field), and for another, translating information learned in a classroom doesn't always work well enough to be effective in practice. Mobile training addresses these issues skillfully.

It's also a form of "active learning" that has been shown to solidify skills and build trainee confidence. Daily reinforcement quizzes, trivia questions, or game tips keep learners engaged with subject matter in a way that's enjoyable, and that doesn't waste time.

Training with Smartphones Can Aid Knowledge Retention

The smartphone or tablet can serve some of the functions of the training coach, by rewarding knowledge instantly, or by nudging learners toward finding the correct answer. Coaching, of course, shouldn't be entirely machine-provided, because the human touch has many advantages, yet elements of coaching can be incorporated into learning modules that your reps complete during the course of their normal work day.

The concept of spiral learning, referenced above, is a natural for reinforcing knowledge. Mixing in previously covered information along with new concepts is a great way for learners to revisit concepts they have already learned. It's similar to, for example, how children learn about fractions, and then build on that concept to learn about percentages. When this is done stepwise, and in manageable chunks of information, it's easier for learners to make mental connections between things they already know and new concepts.

Enlisting tablets and smartphones in the training of pharmaceutical reps is a natural extension of technologies many organizations already use in terms of e-Learning. Mobility and analytics go together, as do mobility and incentive programs, and mobility and gamification. It doesn't mean you scrap whatever you're doing now and replace it with all mobile learning, all the time. But mobile learning is well worth exploring for pharma sales training, and we encourage you to check out our free resources for sales trainers for ideas on making training more enjoyable, efficient, and effective.

Topics: Mobile Learning