9 Trends in Sales Learning & Development to Prepare for Beyond 2024

BY:  Rebecca Herson
May 8, 2024
Updated on May 19, 2024
11 MIN. READING

Table of Contents

Learning & Development teams training salespeople are working in a brave new world. Since the pandemic, most sales teams remained either fully or partially remote, so they need new tactics and methods. Sales representatives are still seeing swift turnover, so many enterprises are having to onboard new talent more often, and more quickly, than ever before.

Buyer expectations have also changed. Digital sales and the rise of the self-led purchase journey have also brought changes to the typical sales path, and demand that sales employees acquire new skills. 

At the same time, the explosion of artificial intelligence (AI) has brought new tools, new strategies, and new workflows to the sales process. According to the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report 2024, acquiring AI skills is a top priority for employees. The ways we onboard, upskills, and retrain sales teams are all in flux, upping the pressure on L&D personnel. 

The silver lining is that L&D budgets are still growing to accommodate these needs, although the rate of growth has slowed, with a 1.4% rise expected in 2024. 

So what can you expect to see L&D teams doing to adapt to the new reality? Here are 9 trends in L&D for sales teams to prepare for.

Leveraging Advanced Technology for Enhanced Sales Training

Digital learning draws on technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to bring newly effective and engaging training experiences. With digital training, you can offer a mix-and-match of different learning modalities that includes live and real time, on demand, mobile-first learning, interactive experiences, and more.

Digital sales training software allows you to offer fun learning options like interactive sales conversation practice, team on team challenges, leaderboards, score cards, streaks, and other tactics. Making learning enjoyable moves your sales training a million miles away from dry frontal learning and actually attracts salespeople to want to complete a certification program.

Our client Zoom demonstrated this perfectly when it certified its entire global sales force without having to twist a single elbow. 

Find Out How Zoom Leverages AI to Scale Sales Certification

Embracing Remote Work Dynamics in Sales Learning and Development

Now that the vast majority of sellers are remote or hybrid, training has to meet them where and when they are available, which requires the flexibility of digital learning. Leveraging education and upskilling platforms that use AI and digital interactions allows L&D leadership to offer remote training that’s every bit as engaging as in-office experiences. 

What’s more, digital training allows you to lead team building exercises that bond remote workers into a connected unit. For example, Second Nature offers team-based leaderboards where each member’s score affects the team total. This helps overcome the isolation that can often affect employees who work from home. 

Facilitating Sales Training On-Demand

Once training is no longer frontal and classroom-based, you can also make it available on demand. Offer bite-size training sessions that employees can easily complete in between tasks and whenever they feel the need to refresh specific skills.

For example, Second Nature’s AI-based sales coaching platform invites sales employees to practice cold calls, objection handling, sales pitches, and other sales conversations whenever they like. The AI simulation partner is always available, no matter what time it is or where they are located.

Aligning Learning with Business Objectives

There’s a growing realization that onboarding, training, and knowledge goals need to be aligned with business objectives. We’re seeing this already in the way that sales enablement personnel are gaining a seat at the table with sales leaders, so that training strategies and sales strategies work together.

L&D executives are moving in the same direction. In March 2021, 63% of L&D executives agreed that learning has a seat at the business table, compared with 24% in March 2020. Once L&D teams are more intimately familiar with broader business challenges and concerns, they are able to make sales training more relevant and effective.

Personalized Data Analytics for Informed Decision Making 

Personalized or adaptive learning helps improve organizational and individual performance, but it’s only possible with a foundation of reliable and accurate data. AI sales coaching and training platforms like Second Nature gather data about each employee’s progress, learning style, strengths and weaknesses, and more, together with powerful analytics that deliver actionable insights to make your L&D programs more effective. 

Second Nature can track user progress, and deliver timely and targeted feedback following each session to the seller, to their manager, and feed the results right into the LMS. In this way, sellers consistently strengthen their weak points and work on the skills they most need to improve.

Embracing Social Learning in Sales Training

We all learn better when we learn together. Research has found that not only is it more enjoyable to learn as part of a team, it’s also more effective. BCG describes social learning as our “superpower” – and one that can drive a competitive advantage.

Once again, advanced tech like AI makes this possible even for remote and disparate sales teams. Digital learning platforms enable immersive experiences through augmented reality (AR) headsets that can make scattered sellers feel like they are all in the same room. Tools like live chat, social feeds, team-based leaderboards, and clubs all enhance the feeling of connection.

Raising the Bar on Return on Investment (ROI) in Sales Training

Converting sales enablement playbooks and messaging into actual sales conversations has always been a challenge. In 2022, we’re seeing L&D teams find new ways to track, measure, and prove ROI on these achievements.

Digital training platforms and AI go a long way to help. At Second Nature, besides delivering role play simulations for realistic sales conversation practice, the solution also identifies sellers’ sales readiness and performance, showing the extent to which salespeople have internalized and mastered sales messaging. Then connect this with CRM data to tie training results into business and sales KPIs, rather than focusing only on the number of completed courses.

Teaching soft selling skills

For decades there’s been no practical way to teach sales employees soft skills like reflective listening or identifying pain points in a prospect’s conversation, or even to teach sales managers how to effectively coach and improve the sales performance of their team.

But AI-powered simulations and immersive learning made it possible. AR headsets and AI role play persona like Second Nature’s Jenny allow managers to practice coaching a new salesperson, for example. Second Nature scores sellers both on their hard knowledge of the company value proposition and product features, and for soft skills like how quickly they talk and how many filler words they use.

Adapting Sales L&D to a Rapidly Changing Environment in 2024

As the sales coaching environment changes, sales training and L&D practices are keeping pace. By embracing digital, on-demand, personalized training that incorporates fun and social learning, is aligned with business goals, and trains for soft skills, L&D teams can deliver sales training programs that are engaging and effective, helping boost profitability across the board.

Second Nature’s Approach to Sales L&D Innovation

Second Nature offers a digital training platform that uses AI to deliver interactive, engaging training experiences. The easy-to-use session editor enables you to create new sessions in just a few clicks using existing material from PDFs, URLs, video, or audio, empowering you to adapt your L&D content to any situation. Our role play personas are always ready to conduct a practice conversation and deliver timely, actionable feedback that strengthens users’ soft skills, sales capabilities, and product knowledge. 

Second Nature supports personalized training that employees actually enjoy, with dynamic leaderboards to encourage friendly competition. The built-in analytics provides valuable insights into areas of weakness that you need to focus on, which employees need extra support, and your state of sales readiness, so you can make strategic decisions about learning, development, and sales. With Second Nature, you can ensure your L&D programs stay ahead of the trend, keep employees engaged and motivated, and effectively drive performance. 

FAQs

  • What is sales learning and development?

Sales learning and development refers to educating and training sales professionals to enhance their skills, knowledge, and capabilities, in order to improve their effectiveness in generating revenue. It involves continuous training, coaching, and mentoring to equip sales teams with the necessary tools and techniques to excel in their roles. 

  • How can technology enhance personalized learning experiences for sales teams?

There are many ways that technology can improve sales learning and training experiences. For example, AI-powered sales training platforms like Second Nature deliver personalized learning experiences that are optimized to each sales rep’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning style. Data analytics can suggest the most effective training content and strategies for your business goals. And digital training platforms provide on-demand training that’s available whenever the rep is ready, no matter where they are or what time it is. 

  • Why is continuous learning culture crucial for sales organizations?

Sales professionals face constant changes in customer preferences, market trends, and competition, requiring them to continuously update their skills and knowledge to stay relevant and effective. A continuous learning culture fosters adaptability, innovation, and growth in an ever-evolving marketplace. By encouraging a culture of continuous learning, sales organizations empower their teams to embrace new technologies, strategies, and best practices, enabling them to navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and consistently deliver value to customers. 

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About the author

Rebecca Herson

Rebecca is head of marketing at Second Nature.

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