How effective is “edutainment” as part of L&D’s sales coaching program?

BY:  Rebecca Herson
March 31, 2022
7 MIN. READING

Nobody likes to have to hound sales employees to fulfill their training hours or certifications, but sales training is one of the most vital parts of onboarding that predicts success in the role.  Learning & Development teams are responsible for a lot; onboard new hires, make sure that existing teams are up to date with product information, corporate value messaging, and competitive differentiation, messaging, positioning, competitive information, and more.

What’s interesting is that sales employees themselves understand the need for sales coaching to be successful, and even want more of it, with 64% telling a Second Nature survey that they want more sales coaching than they currently receive.

It’s not surprising that a recent survey found that the main challenge facing L&D professionals today is how to increase learner engagement and ramp up excitement and interest around sales coaching. Clearly there’s something getting lost somewhere in the sales coaching process.

Could edutainment be the answer, or is it just a gimmick to make people feel better about training without actually changing anything?

What is edutainment?

“Edutainment” is a phrase that’s been with us since the 1990s, but it became widespread after philosopher and educator John Dewey encouraged the concept. Edutainment means any combination of entertainment and education, using media, toys, video games, technology, and experiences that mix fun with learning.  The reason it’s used is because it is a more engaging way to learn that results in more retained information in the short, mid, and long term as it is connected to an experience.

Although edutainment began in the classroom for school-aged children, it’s moved way beyond it now and is used for many adult education settings, including corporate training and onboarding.

Does edutainment work for sales coaching?

Why not? Edutainment is basically a fun and enjoyable approach to sales coaching. The more your salespeople enjoy your training program, the higher the percentage who’ll engage with the course materials and the more likely they’ll be to complete each course, and that can only be good news.

Edutainment cuts the forgetting curve

Edutainment typically involves more of the senses than classic training or teaching. Instead of requiring employees to sit and listen to an instructor, edutainment programs are usually interactive, or at least are engaging media experiences.

Education experts have long been aware that people remember more material when more of their senses are engaged, so edutainment can help you combat the dreaded forgetting curve and boost material retention.

Edutainment encourages a coaching culture

When your salespeople are more engaged and excited about sales coaching, they’ll be more willing not just to complete the course, but to voluntarily go over it and practice more often, which helps create a practice culture across your organization.

It’s something that we often see at Second Nature; people who use our interactive role play simulations typically practice three times as long as they did with traditional sales coaching programs.

Edutainment keeps your sales employees happy

Finally, edutainment is something that your younger employees, at least, are used to and expect to encounter. Millennials and Gen Z basically grew up on edutainment, and they make up an increasingly large percentage of your workforce.

Gen Z, in particular, are used to learning new skills by watching a YouTube video and then using free online tools to try it out themselves.

Edutainment meets their expectations and satisfies their onboarding and ongoing educational preferences, helping you retain your younger salespeople.

How to bring edutainment into your sales coaching program

When it comes to building sales coaching edutainment, the sky’s the limit. You can be as creative as you like, but here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Switch from passive learning to active learning

Today’s advanced technology like artificial intelligence (AI) makes it easy for you to create gamified sales coaching programs that feel more like video games than a classic lecture.

Gamified sales coaching is interactive, so that sales employees play an active role in their learning instead of passively absorbing material. Second Nature, of course, is a great way to invite sales teams to participate in interactive sales training that feels like a video challenge.

2. Sweat the small stuff

Today’s young sales employees are tech-savvy and have high standards for graphics and audio, so make sure that the gamified programs you offer have clear sound and cool graphics, like special effects when someone completes a level. Responsive programs that adjust automatically to phone, tablet, or desktop are a must, so that salespeople can complete a session whenever and wherever they like.

It also makes a difference what you call your sales coaching, as Zoom’s head of enterprise sales productivity and enablement, Mike Fisher, discovered. Everyone switches off when they hear “certification,” but “sales competition” with wild prizes gets them to prick up their ears.

3. Get all the gang together

Social learning is a growing part of edutainment today. Partly because of the pandemic, people are eager to find ways to reach out and connect, especially when they are working remotely, so build in easy ways for your sales teams to share their achievements on your internal communications channels.

Second Nature includes a user-friendly leaderboard that lets salespeople track each other’s success to cheer each other on and encourage friendly competition. You can also release team sales coaching challenges, where each sales team is scored as a group, to encourage bonding within the team.

Edutainment has a real place in the sales coaching lexicon

As you can see, when it comes to sales coaching, edutainment isn’t just a marketing gimmick. It is a tool that can help you drive real improvements in engagement and results for your sales training programs, and with the right solutions and tactics to deliver it, it makes it very easy to implement.

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About the author

Rebecca Herson

Rebecca is head of marketing at Second Nature.

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