Managing sales training, especially in a multi-product environment, is a challenge because of content “silos”. A training “content silo” occurs when a single individual, team or group produces and manages key corporate information (such as sales trends, training statistics, product release timelines, customer profiles, product specifications) which only they (the individual, group, or team) have access to.

Content “silos” may also result from the use of disparate LMS’s, training portals, HR systems, order processing solutions, manufacturing applications, intranets, databases, and corporate websites, that create and maintain their own versions of the same, related, or similar data.

The result:

  • Inaccessibility: Only individuals (such as trainers, sales staff, product managers) or a select number of roles or teams have access to the content. Most other employees are “locked out” from access
  • Stymied decision-making: Cross-organizational teams, to whom that content is relevant, and who need that content for decision-making, make decisions without that vital content
  • Redundancy: Multiple “silos” may have the same content, some of which might be outdated. It wastes staff time maintaining the content, leads to wasted storage space, and results in the same (or similar) content stored in different places
  • Lack of coordination and collaboration: Ideally, a company’s strategy, such as sales plan, L&D strategy, or product development roadmap, should be uniform across the organization. However, when each department, business unit, or branch operates using its own silo of content, data, and metrics, it dissuades cross-organizational synergies that could potentially result from coordination and collaboration

So, what’s the alternate?

Corporate L&D Portals/Microsites

The best way to manage your sales training content, so it supports informed data-driven sales training decision-making, is to break that content out of the numerous silos they now exist in. And the best way to meet that content silo challenge head-on is to aggregate and streamline disparate content silos of digital information under related portals or microsites.

At first, this might seem like a huge challenge to undertake. However, it’s well worth the rewards that await the organization, including:

  • Ontime, just-in-time and accurate information
  • Access to the same information to all stakeholders across the organization
  • Ease of data maintenance through a single portal/microsite

Implementing a successful portal/microsite strategy results in the integration of multiple content sources into a central data point. Typically, the content is maintained through a single user interface, is subject to uniform validation rules (to assure integrity), and is stored, backed-up, and secured using higher data security and privacy standards than disparate silos of content.

Main Components of a Useful Portal/Microsite

Here are some recommended steps to take, and key components to develop, to help you re-organize siloed sales training content, in a multi-product sales training environment, into a portal/microsite:

  • Digital Asset Inventory: Itemize all your sales training assets across the organization and build a (crude) repository so you have them in one place to ease analysis
  • Evaluation: Tag assets into appropriate groups: Sales Overview, Product Features, Safety Instructions, Installation Instructions, User Guides, etc.
  • Application: Next, based on the application-specific nature of the assets, identify which sales and training roles within your organization will need access to each type of asset: Marketing executives, Sales teams, Trainers, L&D managers, Instructional Designers
  • Create a landing page or dashboard: This helps map all your digital assets for ease of access. In a multi-product sales training environment, this may be organized
      • by type of content (Product brochures, Installation Guides, Customer Case Studies, Sales Presentations, etc.);
      • by-product (CT Scanners. MRIs; Ventilators, Training Simulators, Simulation Software, etc.);
      • by source (e.g. LMS, Manufacturer, Intranet, etc.); or
      • by any other logical grouping that works for you (Therapies, Diagnostics, etc.)
  • Create multiple microsites: Build multiple microsites to correspond to your dashboard layout. You may end up with one site for each product, or a portal for a specific type of data asset (Sales Presentations; Workbooks, Tools & Resources), with relevant assets accessible through that site.
    • The Workbooks microsite may lead you to various workbooks for multiple products; or
    • The Products microsite may aid in the discovery of various Workbooks related to that product (Sales Person’s Handbook; Customer Role Playing Guide, Product Demonstration Guidelines, etc.)
    • The Tools & Resources microsite may offer a collection of digital or paper-based tools (3rd party Apps, Selling aids, Calculators and costing sheets, Quick quotes)

When designing the layout of your microsites and content portals, keep in mind that simplicity is the best approach to breaking down digital silos. If users find the microsite too complex or intricate or difficult to navigate, they’ll likely once again start downloading content from the site and “hoarding” those assets in their personal vaults – leading to the recreation of silos.

Ideally, aim to have no more portals than the number of products you support/sell, or the roles you support (Marketing, Pre-sales, Sales, After-sales, Training, Support). This helps keep the structure of the portal relatively flat, which makes it easier to use, maintain, and troubleshoot.

Optimize Your Portal/Microsite

The central idea behind demolishing disparate sales training content silos, and creating central portals and microsites, is to ease discovery. And to that end, content integration (with and between related repositories), consistency (uniform rules), and personalizing the user experience is essential.

For example, in a multi-product training environment, it helps, L&D managers, trainers, SMEs, and instructional designers to gain seamless access to product-specific training and related content on-demand – when and where they need it. To that effect, merely organizing your content into portals and microsites isn’t enough. You must go one step further.

Personalize and optimize your portals and microsites by enforcing role-specific content access, advanced data analysis, and discovery search features so they can get the right information at the right time.