Our guest blogger for the month of May is Chad Udell, managing director at Float Learning. Float guides industry-leading companies to understand and leverage the power of mobile learning.

Chad is the author of Learning Everywhere: How Mobile Content Strategies Are Transforming Training on Rockbench and ASTD Press. You can see the book here.

Chad facilitates ASTD’s Mobile Learning Certificate Program course along with others from the Float team. He will be blogging here this month, focusing on mobile learning as a tool for sales enablement training. You can catch up with Chad and the Float team over on their blog at floatlearning.com/blog.

Join Chad as he explores topics this month on mobile learning strategy and how to get started on the road to mobile learning with your sales organization.

The effects of mobile learning are real and measurable.

Even as far back as 2011, i4CP had drawn a strong linkage between mobile learning rollouts and the Market Performance Index. Recent studies have found even more linkages between the two.

Mobile learning may be the most measurable form of learning delivery ever created, due to the many lenses you can use – Web usage, event completion, time on task, location, and more.

The bottom line is that mobile learning affects performance in a very direct fashion.

Sales professionals are constantly having their performance measured and assessed, so the marriage of mobile learning and sales training seems like a match made in heaven.

However, the similarities in the measurement of mobile and the performance of sales pros are only the start of this continuum.

Mobile learning should be used with your teams that could benefit most from mLearning's key aspects, especially as you first introduce mobile to your workforce and seek out those quick wins. Some of these keys are:

  • ubiquity
  • mobility
  • accessibility
  • connectivity
  • context sensitivity
  • individuality

Your sales team is everywhere – with contacts in a variety of locations and maybe even industries (ubiquity).

With this wide set of locales and regions they have to target, they are often on the road (mobility).

Mobile devices and their ease of use are ideal because of the time spent travelling and the need to have can easily retrieve the content when they need it (accessibility).

Sales professionals depend on the most up-to-date content to ensure they give their clients accurate data (connectivity).

Because every customer has unique objections and personal needs or value propositions that they may respond to, mobile learning can help (context sensitivity).

In a diverse sales team, products, processes and tools may be different from rep to rep, so you need to accommodate and support that (individuality).

These items could be seen as daunting or even insurmountable challenges if your team is resistant to change and your technology team doesn’t want to support your endeavors.

If you’re breathing heavy just thinking about the process to get this type of company wide rollout underway, it’s time to step back, think smaller and reframe it as an opportunity you can execute effectively and capitalize on.

At Float, we’ve written extensively on topics like prototypes and pilots, even authoring an article on the topic for T+D Magazine. The gist of these articles is that you start small, with modest goals, and refrain from changing everything in the audience’s learning program at once.

You want to reinforce key messaging in this time of change and transition. Topics you’ll need to cover with your audience:

  • Put the content in their pocket for just-in-time access
  • Give them their time back so they can get back to selling
  • Put real, performance-enhancing tools in their hands, not just busywork

These are three points you can use to build a strong case for mobile learning with your users.

With any change management effort, you are looking for ways to identify the barriers to adoption or change and replace or refocus them with the appropriate enablers.

Sales professionals may be resistant to using the training materials they have historically had access to. “It takes to long to mess with all of this!” Previously, this content it required a desktop or laptop to access it, and upon finally booting up their workstation, logging into the network and finding the information on the LMS or SharePoint server, they would discover this content is out of date. At that point, it has changed from a technology issue to a trust issue.

You will need to rebuild that trust and you can do so with small steps and simple tools that help them get their work done. Mobile learning removes the “JIT” issues your team has found so troublesome in the past.

Another key sticking point in the sales team’s resistance to using training material is time.

“I’m too busy for this stuff!” is a common refrain you hear when it comes time to have people complete their training.

With a smaller reliance on ahead-of-time training and an increased dependence on just-in-time reference, it’s obvious that you should be able to reduce up-front training time and costs significantly.

Do your salespeople know how to browse or search to find the info needed to overcome objections to make the sale? If you have mobile tools that enable them to make those sorts of choices, there are savings to be had.

“Training just gets in the way and doesn’t really help me get my work done,” is an argument made all too often, as well.

We in L&D haven’t always been the best at integrating our efforts with line-of-business systems and this has to change if we want to improve our standing in the enterprise.

Luckily, common sales platforms like Highrise, Zoho and, of course, Salesforce all make this a possibility with exposed APIs and data exchange for you to bring into your training apps.

Make your creations speak the same language and share data with the CRM to create a linkage that adds to the value chain that your users are part of.

Throughout this series, we’ll dig deeper into these topics and explore how we can pilot to our audience, evangelize our efforts, measure our success, and even get some tips on how to use mobile to appeal to key salesperson motivations such as competiveness.

Be sure to check back weekly to get your updates to this important series on mobile learning as a sales training tool.