How does Data Drive Content Adoption and Learner Engagement?

data-drive-Content-learner-adoptionDid you know that

up to 80%

of all content produced for sales teams is never used? By leveraging microlearning and knowledge retention techniques in your sales enablement programs you can drive content adoption and learner engagement and ensure your investment is not wasted.

What is microlearning?

Microlearning, or bite-sized learning, is where information is broken down into smaller chunks so that it’s easier for sales reps to consume and retain. The bite-sized content is also perfect for just-in-time training, which means it’s more likely to be consumed.

A programme of content, or

a “micro-curriculum,” can be drip-fed over days, weeks and months. Leveraging quizzes and knowledge checks, with techniques like repeated retrieval and spaced repetition, sales reps can retain more information long-term.

Who benefits from microlearning today and how?

Millennial salespeople make up a significant portion of the current sales population today. B


2025 it’s estimated that millennials will account for 75%

of the global population. That’s why it’s important to address the preferences of the millennial workforce when implementing sales enablement initiatives, and millennials have a preference for brief, bite-sized content.

But it’s not just millennial salespeople that benefit from microlearning. All sales reps can benefit from microlearning, particularly with busy schedules and distributed locations. But just because information is bite-sized doesn’t necessarily mean it’s engaging. You still need to ensure the content is engaging.

How do you develop engaging content?

There are two common challenges to overcome when creating engaging content:

How long should the content be?

This depends on several factors including:

  • The demographics of your audience (like age and education level)
  • The subject matter (is it about new product features, process changes or specific skill development)
  • How important the content being shared is (is it ‘good-to-know’ or a business imperative)
  • How frequently the content is updated (is this static or evergreen content, or dynamic information like competitive insights)
  • How frequently will learners be exposed to this information (is it once-off baseline or onboarding knowledge, or part of ongoing training)

How can you drive learner engagement?

While many consider this question after sales training is completed, this question really should be addressed as the program is being designed. This will ensure the design can incorporate any features that will drive engagement, like knowledge checks.

How does Mindtickle solve these challenges?

Mindtickle is a sales readiness platform that helps high-growth customers like AppDynamics, Nutanix, MuleSoft and Cloudera solve these issues. Our experience gives us access to data (1)

from of over 200,000 sales representatives that span a broad range of demographic parameters – including age, education level, industry and type of sales team set-up (inside, field, BDRs etc.).

To find answers to these questions we conducted a deep-dive analysis to identify trends and best practices for content adoption across industries.

As a part of this analysis, we looked at several factors including the length and type of the content, time spent reading content, and whether the content included assessments. We also conducted additional analysis to find points of relevant correlation and to identify actionable results.

Now, let’s look at our findings for each of the challenges.

Challenge 1: How long should the content be?

Across all industries, salespeople are more likely to complete a module if the document is less than 5 pages long, but this drops drastically when the document contains 15 or more pages.

Document length and completion rate

But the size of the document isn’t the only factor, it’s also important to consider how much information is on each page and how it’s presented. To ensure the information is easier to read:

  • Use bullet points where possible to reduce text
  • Summarize content in graphics where possible
  • Use a complementary palette of colours that’s easy to read
  • Don’t use images just to add aesthetic value
  • Limit yourself to one concept per page

Of course, it is sometimes necessary to have longer documents due to the complexity and nature of the content or to achieve the desired learning outcome, but the document can still be made easier to read with these suggestions.

Challenge 2: How can you drive learner engagement?

The concept of ‘Test to Teach’ has been

well-accepted as a preferred alternative

to traditional testing in the context of school education.  The same principles apply to adult learners.

In her article 

Facilitating Adult Learning: How to teach so people learn

, Dr Lela Vandenberg talks about ‘Application and Action’ as an important principle when designing a program for adult learning. She says, “adult learners are busy, practical, and learn by doing. They learn best when:

  • There is an immediate application for the learning
  • They participate actively in the learning process
  • They can practice new skills or test new knowledge before leaving a learning session.”

Our data on sales reps confirm this. We found that sales reps spend more time on modules that included a quiz than those that didn’t. In fact, the presence of a short quiz improves engagement by 34% on average.
time spent content length

Though the overall findings are consistent across industries, the impact on each industry is different.
time spent industry

Including a quiz in the sales training module increased the time spent on a course considerably, particularly in the Pharma, BFS, E-commerce and Electronics industries.

Whether or not you should include intermittent quiz or knowledge checks will depend on the objectives of your sales enablement initiatives. And in case you were wondering, there is a difference between a quiz and a knowledge check. According to

The Training Doctor


  • A quiz is used to test a learner’s ability to apply content. Their responses are scored based on predefined parameters, with results often recorded and compared to their peers.
  • A knowledge check is used to review the content a learner has received to ensure learning took place. Learners are usually able to review the content until they feel confident enough to apply this knowledge.

In summary, optimize the engagement and adoption of your sales enablement initiatives by:

  • Leveraging microlearning – keep content short and to the point, between one to five minutes
  • Keeping content brief – below 15 pages but preferably less than five pages if possible
  • Making it easier to read – use bullet points, short sentences and graphics
  • Using quizzes and knowledge checks

While this analysis provides insights into how content can be made more engaging, it is always important to consider your own specific circumstances. Conducting a similar analysis with your own data will highlight any unique factors that may improve engagement and content adoption amongst your own sales reps.

By leveraging powerful data analytics you can empower your managers to make informed decisions and design more effective sales enablement initiatives. Data analytics will also help you prepare your sales reps for more effective customer conversations and equip them to become true champions for your organization.



Data Source: Usage Data of 200k+ Sales Reps on Mindtickle from January – April 2017.

Transforming from Sales Manager 2.0 to Sales Manager 3.0 and Beyond

sales manager of the futureSales managers are critical to the success of their sales reps. While sales managers are charged with ensuring reps meet their numbers, how they meet their numbers is not as simple as it once was. In the past, focusing in on pipeline and activities was the hallmark of a good sales manager, but the way customers purchase and reps sell has changed, and the role of sales managers has evolved as well.

A highly successful sales manager now invests significant time in coaching their reps to improve their knowledge and skills, drive excellence in execution, and of course keep them on track. Yet businesses often under-invest in their sales managers. Harvard Business Review reported that only 12% of organizations currently invest sufficiently in the development of their frontline sales managers.

Sales managers have a difficult job and yet we often leave them to figure out things on their own.

While the

 70/20/10 learning model

 says that the majority of learning does happen on-the-job, for managers to develop they still need to receive their 10% of formal learning and 20% through coaching or mentoring. This model just doesn’t work anymore. If we leave our sales managers to work out what they’re doing on their own it may take them years to get it right. Can your sales reps wait that long?

In this day and age that’s simply not good enough. The role of sales is rapidly evolving and we expect much more of our sales reps, so it naturally follows that their leaders also need to evolve.

As we move into the era of Sales 3.0, we’re constantly looking for new ways to help our sales reps adapt to the changing world order. This search should start with taking a good look at the sales managers to make sure they have the skills and tools they need to lead their reps through this change. The time has come for organizations to retire Sales Manager 1.0 and Sales Manager 2.0, and set about enabling Sales Manager 3.0.

Sales Manager 2.0 is no longer compatible with Sales 3.0

sales manager of the future

Sales Manager 1.0: The expert administrator

  • Manages sales and administrative tasks
  • Dealing with complaints or individual issues with sales reps
  • Executives performance management
  • Gives feedback on individual issues
  • Responds to queries by sales leaders

Sales Manager 2.0: The activity generator

  • Undertakes the same activities as Sales Manager 1.0 


  • Leverages email automation tools to improve productivity
  • Relies on scaling customer communications to broaden the reach
  • Focuses on a high turnover with power dialers and other productivity tools

Sales Manager 3.0: The strategist and mentor

  • Manages sales reps
  • Ensures execution of account and territory strategies
  • Helping sales reps create business
  • Developing and executing customer-management strategies
  • Coaches and mentors reps using a structured approach to improve performance and behaviors
  • Supports executives to make strategic decisions about a sales organization
  • Forecasting
  • Funnel management

So how do you get your Sales Manager 2.0 to Sales Manager 3.0

The key is to plan your approach and enable your sales managers to perform at their best. Here are four steps to transform your sales managers.

1. Define their role

Sales management is rarely a one-size-fits-all role. In most organizations there are several sales management roles; for example inside sales managers, field sales managers, territory managers. Each of these roles has different responsibilities and requires different skills.

Before you can determine what your sales managers need to be enabled on, their role needs to be clearly defined. In this step, outline the parameters of each role and what they are expected to achieve. This sets the basis for the next step.

2. Determine the skills required for each role

Once the role of each sales manager in your organization is defined you can then determine what skills are required to perform the roles effectively. As part of this process, it’s essential to consider the behaviors and activities that your managers need to demonstrate to be successful in their role. Questions you can ask include:

  • Do they know how to focus on their team over their individual performance? Many sales managers are promoted from the field where they were judged on their own performance. Making the mental shift to focusing on the performance of the collective can be challenging for some.
  • Do they know how the business of sales runs? Forecasting, reporting, sales methodologies, and processes; these are all skills that are fundamental to leading a successful sales team.
  • Do they know how to create an effective sales strategy? Stepping back and mapping out the big picture is essential to Sales Manager 3.0. This requires being able to identify skill gaps and understanding how these can be plugged and their reps’ skills developed over time.
  • How much experience have they had leading people? A core skill for any sales manager is leading people. This covers more than just hiring and monitoring their quotas. Leading a sales team involves identifying and developing skills as well as coaching and mentoring.
  • Do they know what to coach on and how to do it? Coaching is much more than just giving feedback to reps about how they performed in a meeting. It covers all aspects of selling from lead identification to how they close the deal.
  • Do they know how to mentor individuals? Mentoring is different from coaching. It’s about guiding and providing advice to help reps develop their own skills. This is a skill that can be difficult for anyone to learn, yet it’s crucial to the success of Sales Manager 3.0.
  • Do they know what success looks like? Meeting quota is no longer the only indicator of a sales reps’ success. It’s important that sales managers not only understand what success looks like for their reps but also what it means in terms of their own role, so they can then build their own skill gaps if necessary.

3. Identify where the skill gaps are

Once you know what skills your sales managers require to perform their jobs effectively you can then overlay their existing skills to help you identify areas where they require improvement or development.

A useful tool to help identify areas where your sales managers may require development is by looking at your

efficiency and sales effectiveness indicators

. These metrics focus in on the areas that are important to sales managers when looking at the progress of their reps. So it makes sense that they need to be able to drive the behaviors and capabilities that will drive these indicators in the right direction.

For example, if your reps are struggling in their elevator pitches then they need support from their managers to improve. This requires managers to coach them on improving their messaging and pitch skills. So it follows that your managers may require some help bringing their coaching skills in these areas up to the mark.

4. Leverage technology to enable your sales managers

Just like your sales stack helps your reps perform at their best, your sales managers need a technology stack of their own. This goes beyond your CRM and really hones in on helping them perform each of the elements of their role better. Their stack can borrow from the existing sales stack and also leverage tools from other parts of the organization. The sales managers stack may include:

  • Hiring: To improve their hiring process consider tools that help test candidates for sales aptitude and competency.
  • Coaching: Sales readiness platforms can help optimize coaching by establishing a formal framework that helps managers identify skill gaps and then focus on remediation by developing reps’ skills. This should incorporate a range of coaching activities including role plays, so managers can focus in on specific skills.
  • Messaging: Video and audio tools can often be found in sales readiness platforms. These can help reps practice their messaging and get feedback, not only from their managers but also from other subject matter experts, on how they articulate their value proposition in different situations.
  • Forecasting: Tools like your CRM can help your managers accurately forecast sales results, so they can identify issues early and act quickly when necessary.
  • Managing: This can include the basics of management, like how to motivate their team or conduct performance reviews. If your sales managers have never led a team before then the basics are essential to learning.

These tools will help you enable your sales managers, but the key focus shouldn’t be on helping take your sales managers to the next level. After all, they play an integral role in the overall sales success of your business. But it’s important to remember that enablement isn’t a set and forget exercise. Once you’ve built Sales Manager 3.0 it will almost certainly be time to start working on the next model.

What Separates your Top 1% of Sales Reps from your Bottom 5%?

Separating A Player Sales repsImagine if only one in every hundred Big Mac’s had that special sauce that gives the burger its deliciously sweet and savory flavors. You’d probably be less likely to buy one, opting for another option. It’s the fact that every single burger, everywhere in the world, has the same secret sauce that drives sales of Big Macs from New York to New Caledonia.

Now imagine if all your “C” Players, wherever they’re located, had the same secret sauce that keeps your A Players would closing deals? It would instantly transform them from sub-standard performers into predictable selling machines. The key is identifying what ingredients separate your top 1% of sales reps from the bottom 5%.

So how do we break down the secret sauce?

We know that that being a good sales rep is about being outcome driven. It’s about closing more deals, bigger deals, better deals.

But being a great salesperson involves more than just closing deals. The ability to close a deal actually starts a few steps back in the process. So if you really want to know what makes a good salesperson, have a look at what your best reps know and do to actually get their deals over the line.

It’s this knowledge and execution that drives closing rates. And this comes from their selling skills and how they execute the sales process. Essentially, the secret sauce is made up of competencies that your A Players use to deliver revenue. If you can replicate in the rest of your reps then you’ll be able to bridge the gap between the top 1% and the bottom 5%?

Five competencies make all the difference


 by The Objective Management Group looked into the competency disparities between salespeople. They identified five competencies that account for over a third of the biggest disparities between the top 1% and the bottom 5% of reps.

These are all skills that can be identified, solved for and managed through coaching and development initiatives. By actively addressing them, the majority of businesses can improve the capabilities and revenue generation opportunities of their entire sales organization.

What makes your “A” Players tick?

While it’s helpful to understand what competencies drive most businesses, what will really provide the biggest bang for the buck in your business is identifying the specific competencies that are making a difference to your reps.

To do this you will first need to identify which competencies make your A Players tick. These are the skills that come together to create the secret sauce that sells your product. Isolating these competencies gives you the recipe that will improve how all of your reps sell.

This could include a range of different competencies, for example, some hold themselves more accountable to their quota; they see it as their responsibility. Others take a systematic approach to the sales process, while others have bought into the company’s message and leadership – they’re inspired to perform.

Once you’ve honed in on the behaviors that really drive sales performance you can then look at how your A Players leverage these skills to achieve. How do they negotiate difficult pricing conversations with conversations? How do they incorporate the company’s messaging into their elevator pitch? How do they manage themselves and their quota so they can track how they’re performing and make adjustments when necessary?

By defining how A Players behave and operate, you will then be well-positioned to impart this knowledge to your other reps. This can be done in a variety of ways; from success stories to structured coaching.

As the knowledge is imparted and reinforced to your reps, it needs to become an integral part of your ongoing learning and coaching initiatives. That’s because it’s the secret sauce of how your business sells. It’s how you meet and smash your revenue targets.

Over time, your recipe will improve and evolve, and your initiatives to impart this knowledge will also evolve. In this day and age, there’s nothing stays the same for long. But as things change you’ll be starting from a very different base, one where the gap between your top 1% and the bottom 5% is much smaller. By narrowing this gap you’ll have a stronger more agile sales team and more predictable revenue. So no matter what your industry or competitors throw your way, you’ll be better equipped to manage the ups and downs.
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[Podcast] Nancy Nardin on how Sales Technology is a Strategic Differentiator (Episode 20)

In this 15 minute podcast, Nardin outlines:

  • How the sales industry and sales technology have changed in the past eight years
  • How you can use technology as a strategic differentiator for your business
  • Whether sales technology should influence your hiring practices
  • What we can expect to see in the sales technology landscape in the future

To download or subscribe to the Sales Excellence podcast login to






 or find it



“How can we use technology as a strategic differentiator to help our organization grow in the fastest way possible and really builds relationships with customers?”

That’s the question every organization should ask itself before adding something to their sales stack according to Nancy Nardin, and she would know. Nardin has worked in sales in the Valley since the 1980s – she even sold the world’s first laptop computer. Eight years ago she founded Smart Selling Tools, a place where sales practitioners can learn about sales technology and stay up-to-date on the industry.
With so many different sales technologies now available it can be overwhelming to know what will help your sales organization.

“I don’t think we really should be thinking about the tech too much,” suggests Nardin. “What we should be doing is thinking about what’s keeping us from being as effective and productive as we can be. What’s keeping us from generating more revenue and from serving the customer better? These are the challenges that we need to break down, and then decide what technology is the best technology to apply to that.”