Over the past five years, massive open online courses (“MOOCs”) have transformed the state of higher education. The movement started in 2011 when Sebastian Thrun (cofounder and current CEO of Udacity) and Peter Norvig (now Director of Research at Google) launched the world’s first MOOC, a Stanford artificial intelligence course that attracted 160,000 online registrants in its inaugural session. Since that class offering, the MOOC momentum shows no signs of slowdown. According to Class Central, as of 2015, 35M students had registered for at least one MOOC (up from 16–18M in 2014).
For many students, MOOC enrollment is motivated by a desire to learn coding skills; in 2015, more than 17% of all MOOC offerings were related to computer science and programming (these types of courses grew more than 10% since 2014). To date, MOOCs have primarily been geared toward aspiring coders, as well as college-age students looking for classroom alternatives. One demographic that continues to be largely overlooked is sales professionals. Though it might seem akin to finding a needle in a haystack, there are a select few well-crafted MOOCs that are designed for sales professionals. We’ve selected five MOOCs that can help you increase your effectiveness at closing deals:
Despite the emergence of new online communication technologies, sales professionals still rely heavily on voicemail. According to RingLead, a team of 50 sales reps leaves about 1,277 hours of voicemails per month, which translates into 15% of their time being consumed by voicemail. With so much time invested in voicemail, it’s worth making the effort to learn the skills and tactics entailed in crafting an effective voicemail. After all, it’s a difficult skill to master and many sales professionals have not honed it; 80% of calls go to voicemail, and 90% of first-time voicemails never get returned.
This Udemy course teaches you how to best ensure that your prospects and customer voicemails don’t go unanswered. It introduces a simple 2-step process that sales professionals can follow when conducting voicemail outreach. The real “gold nugget” of the course is the bonus material, which includes concrete templates you can immediately put to use. These templates are tailored to the specific nature of the voicemail call, ranging from “The Soft Follow-Up,” to “The Soft Appointment,” to “Building Credibility,” and more.
Most organization-run sales training programs focus on teaching verbal sales techniques, devoting comparatively little attention (if any) to teaching nonverbal sales techniques. In reality, nonverbal techniques, more so than verbal, can make or break a sale. It’s been estimated that we can send up to 10,000 nonverbal cues in less than one minute of interaction with a customer. Whether consciously or subconsciously, customers use each of these cues to assess whether they want to engage in a relationship and purchase your product or service.
Sales professionals can reap significant rewards from understanding how to leverage body language to close more deals. When we are presented with a nonverbal and verbal message, our body language is 4.3 times more influential than our words. This course teaches you how to leverage nonverbal sales techniques to close more deals. One of the gems of the course is a module devoted to teaching you how to detect lies and hidden emotions exhibited by your prospects and customers (the module is titled “Sales Human Lie Detection Techniques”).
The best part? You’ll be learning from the best. The instructor, published author Vanessa Van Edwards, is a Huffington Post columnist and has been featured on NPR, Business Week, and USA Today. She also works as a corporate consultant for several Fortune 500 companies, including American Express and Symantec.
Udemy has released one of the only MOOCs specifically devoted to B2B sales. With the emergence of new technologies, B2B selling is constantly evolving. What worked yesterday may be irrelevant today. It’s essential that B2B sellers keep abreast of changing technologies and refine their approaches accordingly. This course helps sellers close more deals, land more qualified leads, and drive more sales. It does this by highlighting dozens of apps and resources that, according to the course description, “only the most savvy B2B sales professionals know about.” You’ll also learn what the top 8% of salespeople do differently, and the one reason why 80% of deals are lost.
Perhaps the best part of the course is the module devoted to teaching you how to accurately assess a prospect’s budget. It includes actionable strategies that will help you in crafting a line of questions aimed at unveiling a prospect’s goals, target ROI, and actual budget. You have nothing to lose by enrolling in this course; there’s a 30-day, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee.
Over the past few years, the lines between sales and marketing have blurred. Sales teams are recognizing the importance of forging stronger relationships with marketing in order to close more deals and boost profitability. According to SiriusDecisions, B2B organizations with strongly aligned sales and marketing operations attain 24% faster 2-year revenue growth, and 27% faster 2-year profit growth.
This Coursera course affords sales professionals a unique opportunity to step inside the world of marketing. It teaches you how marketing makes (or should make) pricing decisions. It also provides a great overview of pricing psychology and, in doing so, educates you on how to influence customers into believing your product or service is of higher value than otherwise.
According to Marketo, when sales and marketing teams are in sync, companies are 67% more effective at closing deals. This course is a first step in helping you get in sync with marketing and understand their world. Enrollment in this course also affords you the unique opportunity to “study abroad,” virtually. The course was developed by Madrid-based IE Business School, an internationally- recognized business school with a faculty of more than 400 professors.
We’d be hard pressed to compile a list of MOOCs without including at least one in the field of computer science. If you’re at all technically inclined, be sure to check out MIT’s online Data Mining MOOC. You won’t regret it. Data mining techniques have significant practical application in the world of sales. Sales professionals are constantly presented with more data about customers, purchasing patterns, and buying behaviors. Oftentimes, much of this potentially valuable data is ignored, thrown by the wayside, and not harnessed to its full potential.
This course teaches you how to leverage data mining to discover patterns and insights about your prospects and customers. You’ll be instructed by Dr. Nitin Patel, the co-founder and current Chief Technology Officer of Cytel Inc. As early as the first homework set, you’ll test the waters of data mining and evaluate customer responses and past purchase data compiled by a retail company. You’ll learn how to partition prospects into groups that exhibit similar buying behaviors.
Sales professionals can benefit immensely by participating in MOOCs. Each of the five MOOCs outlined here will help you refine your approaches and become more effective sellers. This is your chance to take advantage of the opportunity to increase your selling prowess from the comfort of your bed.
Largely due to the inherent cost savings, many sales organizations are already exploring MOOC offerings. Bryant Nielson estimates that leveraging MOOCs for sales training has the potential to lower an organization’s training costs by 25%. Google has already enrolled 80,000 of its employees in Udacity’s HTML5 course. As well, 1-800-FLOWERS.com has hired Udemy to build a MOOC for their retail florist network.