Has “Blended-Learning” touched the gist ?

frédéric vendeuvre Published by Frédéric Vendeuvre – 30 March 2022

In behavioral training such as sales and management training, “blended learning” has already become an accepted idea, a convention, not to say sometimes “a pie in the sky”. Sequencing learning, learning in bite-sized chunks, alternating distance and face-to-face, individual and group, tutored and untutored.

At the beginning of the pandemic, many still thought that nothing would replace face-to-face training, especially for “soft skills” training. After two years of almost forced distance learning, it’s almost the opposite, judging by the explosion of offers and uses of online coaching solutions (and even coaches). A bit like the sales managers surveyed by Mac Kinsey in several countries have shifted in their opinion in 2 years. About 30% at the beginning of the pandemic thought that remote selling was here to stay and would become an integral part of their business process because of its many advantages. In the latest studies, they are now nearly 90% to think so.
So, in theory, everyone agrees. All the new players in digital learning who want to market their platform with self-promotional white papers are amplifying the resonance chamber.
End of story…

In practice, the music is different. Very different.

We must not forget the content either, the pedagogues… Too often the inflation of pedagogical means hides some miseries. As a famous comedian (from another time) used to say: “I remember the tune of the multiplication table song well, but I have more trouble with the lyrics”. Everyone knows the music of “blended-learning” to talk about it… To put it into practice, there are huge differences between players in the training market. It would be hard to know how to find the solution, because there is no standard way to do it. Let’s stop presenting it as a new standard! It often hides the “holes in the racket” of its service offer …. Multi-modal training, as it is now called, which includes distance learning (ODL), on-the-job training (OJT) and face-to-face training, has yet to be effectively implemented in most companies. So what about the substance?

At Halifax Consulting, we started in 2010 our first “blended” training courses integrating E-learning, then later in 2016 by integrating “sales enablement” and adaptive learning technologies, and in 2019, more than 18 months before the pandemic, our 100% online tutored sales training courses throughout the world with a major client such as Dassault Systèmes, integrating pedagogical multimodal. We are always looking for the best compromise with our customers between their expectations, their constraints, the starting levels, our convictions and experience to find the right solution. Flexibility is the watchword and this goes against the imposed schemes, the repetitive and boring magic tools. And since we are still talking about training, learning something is still the goal at the end. Like in a good movie, you need good content, good actors and a good story. Otherwise it’s just a movie, but it’s still very painful. Here are some convictions that we share with our clients.

  • First of all, face-to-face training is not dead. Particularly in the sales force, wanting to bring together a sales team that is increasingly sedentary and isolated is not really a training objective but rather a team building and management objective, one might say. But how can it not be included in the equation? This will continue in certain contexts, just as sales people will continue to visit their customers, but probably not at the same pace and under the same conditions. If you don’t offer this, you will always have a “load break” in your offer.

  • Then distance learning in e-learning, self-learning is a key to success. Those who have nothing to show or tell can promote microlearning as the answer to everything, but learning requires effort. Everyone knows this. There is no fatality to the “goldfish civilization” if we know how to produce attractive and useful content to progress. Because the learning challenges in most sales forces are enormous. To do this, new practices must be integrated, based on reproducible and relevant concepts.

To learn more about our SalesB2B e-learning offers click here.

For the sales force, as in other fields, e-learning on methods and concepts is a bit like grammar, what you have to learn to progress. To learn a new language, no one likes to learn grammar too much, we prefer to go and visit the country to talk to the people. But we all agree that without grammar, at some point it’s not possible to learn… So making people like grammar is the real challenge for teachers!

This is why the consultant remains central, the strength of the detailed feedback, based on an understood and reproducible concept, is a key element for learning. We can certainly imagine in a few years the multiplication of solutions based on artificial intelligence to give feedback based on a very simple commercial dialogue (this already exists in part for transactional sales with very short dialogues of 1 to 2 minutes), but the level of complexity of the sale increasing, the tutoring by consultants remains key. The magic of distance learning is to allow access to individual feed backs in a much simpler way, asynchronous or synchronous.

So let’s never forget that to learn, you first need a good gist of the matter.

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