Video is at the top of the list in the quest to find the magic bullet that can help the middle 60 percent of salespeople replicate the results of the top 20 percent.

The availability of engaging and valuable sales training content has long been a priority investment for most companies, whether they rely on traditional classroom training or provide access to more dynamic learning methods and tools. In recent years, sales enablement has become a critical piece of the enterprise sales puzzle, yet there is no standard blueprint for achieving a successful results-based sales-enablement program. Time and real-world experience, however, are providing a clearer picture of what the modern sales force requires in order to be most effective and efficient.

Defining sales enablement

Sales enablement, simply put, is a function that helps sales teams to be more productive. The relatively new role of the sales enablement professional is a hybrid of sales and marketing that allows a sales enablement rep (or team) to better relate to the experiences of the salespeople, thereby making it easier for the rep to provide the sales team with relevant, engaging content for each stage of the sales process. Each organization may approach the role differently, but at its core it’s designed to provide salespeople with the tools required to increase effectiveness and close more leads as a result.

While there is no standardized method for providing sales enablement or delivering content to sales teams, experience has shown that mobile access to high-impact content is essential and that collaboration, feedback, and real-time coaching are equally as important to the process as product training and classroom learning. Salespeople need mobility, so sales enablement must reach them on devices that are with them most often, such as tablets and smartphones. You need to follow up in-person training with materials to help reinforce learning; and you measure progress not only by what content learners are viewing, but by how they are implementing it. This means that sales enablement not only needs to create strategies and content, but also monitor their effectiveness by tracking the sales team’s success.

Video: the new document for sales

Video is just one of several content forms you can apply to the eLearning environment at the enterprise level. However, it is by far the most effective means for training and enabling the sales professional—whose unique, high-pressure, and deadline-sensitive role requires just-in-time access to knowledge, content, and best practices—as well as providing learning reinforcement through ongoing practice, coaching, and feedback.

As Jim Lundy of Aragon Research recently stated: “When we say video is the new document for sales, we say this because video can make the difference in getting a lead to convert or a prospect to act.”

Video reaches professionals on the devices that they use in the field (tablets and smartphones) at the right time and in the right place. Just-in-time video learning not only pushes information to learners, but also makes it easy for them to seek the content, best practices, and field insights they need when they’re most motivated to learn—typically at deal time. This type of learning drives knowledge absorption and retention more effectively than traditional learning, and it enables professionals to access content at the times that they choose—when they are in the best environment and mindset to learn.

Far more than the traditional, static sales meeting, mobile video enables real-time collaboration across sales teams and allows team members to provide guidelines for using sales assets, share best practices, build new sales assets, and develop product training. Video is also the most effective platform for providing coaching and feedback, including pitch rehearsals and role-play assignments with managers and peers, along with interactive tools to enhance productivity. Virtually any topic or exercise that can be covered in an in-person sales meeting can be shared via video, and without the typical meeting tangents, distractions, and expenses.

Taking the plunge to use more video

In his Aragon Research blog post referenced above, Lundy observes, “The challenge for sales professionals is that there is a gap in UX [user experience] when it comes to leveraging video: Often there isn’t that much video content that can be used, and the content that is available cannot be tailored.”

But those gaps are quickly being filled in by intuitive platforms that make it possible for sales professionals to create and share compelling videos that positively impact both sales training and sales enablement efforts.

As an example, one of my company’s clients, a global technology-enabled staffing and recruiting service, rolled out the Allego platform to 150 sales and service professionals in an effort to share best practices and collaborate more effectively in a geographically distributed environment. Before this, sales reps had limited access to see “what ‘good’ looks like” when it came to corporate messaging or product sales presentations. Those best practices are now captured in short videos and shared across the team.

Each week, salespeople share their insights by creating and sharing one- to two-minute videos with titles including “What worked for me this week” and “Top challenges this week.” The sales reps watch videos of top performers on their team delivering key sales messages and demonstrating a solid pitch. They can reference those videos on demand for their own development anytime, anywhere, applying the videos for their own benefit in client situations that have similar challenges.

Further leveraging video to support transfer of learning from training to the sales environment, the same client dedicated a channel in Allego for new hires to revisit and reinforce content that had been delivered during an onboarding boot camp. Retention of this foundational knowledge increased significantly as new team members, now in the field, built their sales skills with deliberate practice of the sales messaging. Reps could also request and receive in-video feedback and coaching from managers and trusted peers, reducing the need for in-person training at HQ or in the field.

Critical to the success of any sales-learning platform implementation is ongoing and active participation by the sales enablement professional. In this particular customer example, the VP of sales enablement creates clear assignments and each sales manager creates and distributes weekly videos to his or her team via Allego, communicating the top three things each rep needs to focus on for the week. While many users were initially camera-shy, the benefit of being able to collaborate globally and get immediate access to best practices and key objection handling, and also review success stories or challenges, has resulted in a highly engaged team across the organization.

This is only one example of an organization’s use of just-in-time video learning to drive sales productivity. Over time, expect to see video as the foundation for many sales enablement efforts, simplifying the collection, curation, and sharing of valuable content from the field.