It’s still the beginning of the calendar of fiscal year 2023 for many revenue organizations. And you’re likely kicking off the year and working to achieve revenue goals you spent a lot of time crafting toward the end of 2022; how is a Learning & Development strategy a part of the conversation?

As you finalize SKOs, prepare for go-to-market team execution and even put a plan in place for your teams to level up their skills … it’s important to remember 6 things about how Learning & Development works in 2023. And why those who implement it properly will have stronger and more dynamic teams for it.

Improvement #1: Re-assess how you design training and learning

My recommendation? Implement a backwards design process to your training curriculum and learning initiatives.

Backwards design is the most effective process for identifying the leading indicators towards the KPIs. Developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, backwards design is used to first identify what successful outcomes look like, and then reverse engineer learning pathways (or business priorities) to ensure every touchpoint and milestone ultimately leads towards the KPIs. If enablement initiatives and objectives are disconnected from KPIs, how do you know what you’re doing is making the business impact you want it to? Backwards design is a method to focus training, expectation setting, prioritization, and milestones that integrate with the KPIs. A good place to start would be your comp and bonus structure: If strategies and processes are disconnected from ultimately achieving those goals, then adjustments need to be made, and fast.

Improvement #2: Better Define your Learning Objectives

Like everything else in 2023, the impact and ROI of your training and enablement programs are under a microscope. As they should be. If they aren’t driving forward the outcomes that your teams and business need … what’s the point?

Said simply: your Training and Enablement Learning Objectives need to be action driven; they are the observable behaviors that show evidence of learning and are the touchpoints for a Learning & Development posture that is able to answer the question, “how do I know what impact our sales training efforts are making on our KPIs?” We’ve got an overview of what Learning Objectives should map to in 2023, but here’s the gist:

Learning and Training Initiatives have one of 6 clear goals. Your training may run the gamut, but choosing what the purpose of your learning program is gets you and your team past the idea that learning is passive and applying the learning is a “choose your own adventure”.

Bloom Taxonomies’ Learning Objectives:

  • Know – Recognize and recall basic facts and define key terms 
  • Understand – Ability to explain the importance of the ideas and concepts
  • Apply – Use the information in new contexts and situations
  • Analyze – Make connections among ideas and break down information
  • Evaluate – Judge the value of information or ideas
  • Create – Use information to produce new or original work

Next: Map the Learners Next Steps Based on the Initial Learning Goal

Remember Understand Apply Analyze Evaluate Create
Define Describe Demonstrate Categorize Decide Construct
Label Explain Interpret Compare Criticize Design
List Identify Practice Contrast Prioritize Develop
Recall Paraphrase Prepare Distinguish Interpret Manage
Repeat Recognize Show Examine Measure Organize
Select Summarize Use Infer Select Prepare

We’ve got a one-page resource that helps you map and build your own version of learning objectives > action plans.

Drive Revenue Growth.

Tools, templates and resources to help you do more. All available in the 2023 Revenue Un-Playbook.

Editable templates, built to easily configure for YOUR go-to-market team.

Download and make them your own today.

Improvement #3: Align Learning KPIs to Business Goals

Is your data just data for the sake of having data, or is it actually telling a story of what’s happening in the business, with your prospects and customers, and the overall market? Let’s take pipeline coverage for example: Are you only thinking about it in terms of a leading indicator? What would happen if you expanded it to serve as both a leading AND lagging indicator? How might it then be a benchmark for effective prospecting or marketing campaigns (lagging indicator)? What about it being the handoff touchpoint into your sales process (leading indicator)? How are you measuring success in your sales process? (Hint: it’s not about Closed Won and Closed Lost). Are your data points anchored to a KPI? Why or why not? You had X% of sellers take and pass SKO pre-work, so what? Does that equal actual comprehension, adoption, and behavior change? Data is only as good as the anecdotes it provides; it’s more nuanced than your CRM dashboard or a Tableau report indicates. Block off time to dig deeper, have those conversations with your teams, and make better decisions around what data points matter for your KPIs; if you find data points that don’t matter, then why spend time gathering and analyzing them in the first place? Think about the effort vs. impact and what that could mean for how the people involved could use their bandwidth elsewhere in the business that’s more mission critical.

Improvement #4: Build a Learning Scaffolding for your Team

Learning sequences matter because new information out of context won’t translate to adoption and execution. In education this is called scaffolding, and it is a strategy for how to systematically and logically introduce new information over time to extend the depth of knowledge for a specific topic. Think about learning to ride a bike, play an instrument, a sport, create art, or any other hobby. You learned the basics, then kept improving and growing more your skills over time, weaving in more complexity and becoming competent. Your enablement and training should follow the same structure. Write down the names of all your training lessons on sticky notes, then go through and rearrange each lesson until one sets up the next and so on. Now there’s a sequence. Pro tip: if you know an individual is already an expert at a skill, have them skip the basics and get started on more advanced or rigorous training. Better yet, ask them to be a mentor or SME for others in the same role.

Along those lines, meeting individual learning needs is essential to a successful learning and development posture. Vygostky’s Zone of Proximal Development is the idea that we leverage existing background knowledge and experiences to overcome new or unfamiliar challenges. Do you set individuals up for success the same way? Is enablement empowered to advocate for the needs of your sellers to company leadership? Meeting learners where they are creates, as Louise Rosenblatt (1978) calls it, an aesthetic transaction to interacting with information. When we feel like something is relevant to our lives and experiences, we’re more open to learning about it because it’s useful information. A good place to start in 2023 would be auditing your meeting structure and agendas. If certain internal stakeholders don’t need to be there, then free up their schedules. However, we sometimes need that audience in order to disseminate information, and that’s necessary. Consider the purpose to ensure more achievable and actionable outcomes by keeping things hyper focused, especially when it comes to product updates and the impact that has for discovery and demo.

Improvement #5: Set Better Adoption Expectations

It’s SKO season and there are some important behavior and learning considerations to keep in mind: 

  1. It takes 90 days for adults to form a habit; SKO is a fraction of that time.
  2. Studies repeatedly show that the average adult can focus on a task for about 15-20 minutes. 

The adult brain isn’t making neural pathways for new information, we stopped doing that around 22-25 years old. Therefore, we have to use existing neural networks to incorporate new information. Think about this when strategizing your SKO experience: Are you setting up the learners for success, or failure? Were the learning objectives for SKO designed using a backwards design strategy? To point #1, how are you extending the focus after SKO? What are the expectations for sellers? Managers? SKO is an opportunity to build the foundation to help teams deliver on KPIs. It’s the learning and development beginning, not a capstone experience, so stop treating it as one. Work with enablement and sales leaders to ensure they aren’t burned out from planning before and executing during SKO. The real work starts when it’s over, as well as the impacts, and ultimately, the payouts; put more effort there and think more holistically with your timeline.

Improvement #6: Think about the Entire Learning Experience

Let’s get real about your LMS if you use one: asynchronous on-demand courses are not a closed learning loop; adults learn based on contextual challenges. LMSs are just one part of a training ecosystem and when used effectively are an introduction to essential information, similar to how you onboard new employees. New hires likely spend a week or two watching videos, taking quizzes, and/or recording their upfront contract, discovers & demo etc. Then, they start working with their manager and the previous two-weeks are promptly disregarded because oftentimes we forget a simple reality: most learning is achieved by doing when there’s an actual risk of failure in the real world, when there’s a consequence for being successful or unsuccessful. This is why Sales Assembly offers a holistic approach to training with an SME led community approach to expand and extend learning beyond the LMS; it’s a hybrid learning model built on education and psychology theories in action, leveraged by technology to meet the learning needs of B2B SaaS sellers. Creating a learning vacuum will never yield evidence for success, why is that so often how training and development is designed?

Drive Revenue Growth.

Tools, templates and resources to help you do more. All available in the 2023 Revenue Un-Playbook.

Editable templates, built to easily configure for YOUR go-to-market team.

Download and make them your own today.

Ready to take your revenue team’s learning and development to the next level?

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