How to design successful sales training using branching scenarios
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How to design successful sales training using branching scenarios

Young, smiling salesman extends hand to show you a new red car.

Few would argue that sales training is of critical importance to most successful businesses. It helps equip sales professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to engage with customers effectively and close deals. 

In this article, we explore the benefits of using branching scenarios in sales training and provide practical tips on how to design an effective program.

Traditionally, role play training has been seen as one successful option to engage learners in a more immersive way. However, time and cost constraints don’t always make this approach feasible. That’s why over recent years, many learning designers have looked for more interactive ways to improve knowledge retention. 

Many online training methods often follow a linear approach which isn’t always the most engaging or inspiring way to inspire learning. Branching scenarios however, by offering the learner choices and by providing a game-like experience, offer an innovative and interactive way to deliver sales training. By allowing participants to make decisions, face consequences, and learn from their choices, the learning is more impactful and memorable. 

The power of branching scenarios in sales training

Branching scenarios are interactive simulations that allow learning designers to create realistic situations that might be encountered in a real-life sales role. At each decision point, learners must make choices that impact the direction of the scenario. These decisions lead to different outcomes, allowing learners to experience the consequences of their actions in a risk-free environment.

Let’s take a look in more detail at some of the benefits:

A more personalised learning experience

Unlike linear training programs, branching scenarios cater to individual learning styles and preferences. Learners can explore various paths, allowing them to focus on areas they find challenging while skipping what they already know.

Active engagement

Branching scenarios actively engage participants in the learning process. The element of decision-making and the anticipation of different outcomes keeps learners invested and motivated to discover the best approaches. Research has shown that this type of engagement also improves retention.

Practical application

By focussing on the process of decision making, it’s very easy for sales professionals to be able to apply the skills acquired through branching scenarios in real-world sales situations. Immersive learning is all about learning by doing – and by going through the active process of making choices, it’s easier to implement those skills in a practical way.

Save time and money

If the alternative to delivering branching scenarios online is to deliver in-person role-play sessions, then using online learning, that is still immersive and interactive can be more efficient, saving on time and costs. In addition, it is easier to standardise the learning and it can be repeated.

Designing effective branching scenarios for sales training

Salesman shows male customer features of car interior.

So, if branching scenarios are a good way to go – what are some practical tips to designing your own branching learning?

Well, firstly, before we dive into some tips, you might want to consider how you are going to create them. If you’re going to be delivering digital learning effectively, you’ll have some practical decisions to make. These may be influenced by your skillset and by the budget available.

Branching scenarios can be delivered using straightforward texts and images, which can be the most cost effective (e.g. using tools like Canva or Powerpoint). Or you can use interactive video – this could be filmed scenarios using actors, or even willing colleagues, or you could use an animation tool like Vyond.

With the right software, it is also possible to design interactive VR branching scenarios. Especially with the advent of Web XR (or Web VR) that makes VR learning scaleable.

Knowing what approach you’re going to use could affect your choice of how to design your interactive sales scenarios. There are pros and cons with different software. Branchtrack or Twine allow you to design static, text-based scenarios, for example, but lack the ability to use interactive video. Articulate Storyline, a popular authoring tool can allow video to be added but the branching design can be complex. Whereas Near-Life’s authoring tool has the advantage of allowing design using static content, video or even VR – and has been specifically designed to support branching.

Once you’ve decided some of the practical choices about the technical approach you’re going to take, you can dive in a little further into the actual design process.

Design approach

Salesman show customer the car engine. Customer looks happy.

Here are some good tips to think about with your learning design approach:

Define clear learning objectives

Perhaps stating the obvious but worth stating as it is so critical to success. Start by outlining specific learning objectives that align with the sales team’s goals. Identify the key skills and behaviours that the training should reinforce or improve.

Understand the audience

Consider the sales team’s existing knowledge, experience level, and typical challenges. Tailor the scenarios to match the target audience, ensuring relevance and relatability. 

Develop realistic scenarios

Create scenarios that mirror real-life sales interactions. Address common challenges such as objections from customers, negotiating deals, or handling difficult clients. The more authentic the scenarios, the more impactful the training will be.

Offer multiple decision points

This is really the whole point. Introduce decision points that allow learners to choose from a range of responses. Each choice should lead to different consequences, illustrating the impact of their decisions on the outcome – and if you’re able to make them nuanced, there is often more opportunity to learn. An incorrect choice can be as memorable as a correct one. 

Provide immediate feedback

By offering feedback after each decision it helps learners understand the consequences of their choices. This is particular easy to do in interactive video scenarios as you can have the story unfold like a choose-your-own-adventure style game. Reinforce positive outcomes and use incorrect choices as learning opportunities, highlighting why they may not yield the desired results. As well as immediate feedback, a tool like Near-Life can also track the choices and generate a tailored report that offers more detailed context. 

Incorporate gamification

Implement gamification elements like scoring, time pressure and narrative storytelling. This can make the training experience more enjoyable and even competitive. You can also create special achievements beyond the traditional choice = outcome. 

Analyse performance and progress

Use learning analytics to track individual and team progress. Analysing performance data can help identify knowledge gaps and areas that require further reinforcement.

Branching scenarios: the right choice for sales training 

Salesman and customer shake hands on sale of car

Branching scenarios have emerged as a game-changer in the realm of sales training. By immersing learners in interactive simulations and allowing them to explore different paths, sales professionals can enhance their decision-making abilities, communication skills, and overall effectiveness in closing deals. 

The design of effective branching scenarios relies on clear learning objectives, audience understanding, and the creation of realistic and relatable scenarios. With these elements in place, businesses can empower their sales teams with the necessary skills to excel in a competitive marketplace.

If you’d like to learn more about how Near-Life can help you easily create engaging branching scenarios that are more memorable and impactful, why not make the right choice and book a demo now

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