You can lead a horse to water… but you can’t make it drink. The same goes for your knowledge sharing platform.

It’s one thing to have a system set up for your reps; it’s quite another to get them to use it.

Cost of purchasing your system aside, a recent report from Panopto found that large businesses lose about $47 million each year due to tribal knowledge and inefficient sharing. That includes time spent waiting for answers, trying to find answers on their own, and duplicating efforts recreating content that’s already out there.

The good news: while you can’t force your team to make good use of the sharing tools you provide, you can encourage them to make sharing part of their every day – and even turn the shyest sharers into answer advocates.

Do your research

Of course, if the system you choose doesn’t actually solve your team’s problems, your reps aren’t going to use it. Maybe the processes are too complicated, or it doesn’t integrate into your tech stack, or the search sucks and ends up creating more work. Either way, it’s a flat-out dealbreaker if it’s not a good fit.

One step at a time

Before you take the leap and roll out a new system for the entire team, consider testing it out with a core group of pilot users. Pilots give you a chance to pick their brains about what works and what needs improvement, and a powerful group of cheerleaders to sing its praises once you launch. 

Load it with good content

The content in your knowledge sharing platform should hit three boxes: it’s relevant to the work your reps do, it’s up-to-date and well maintained, and it’s easy to consume. If you haven’t done a content audit recently, there’s no better time than now. And think micro-content when you’re breaking it down – your reps don’t need a meal, they just need a snack.

Support beyond day one

If you give reps an overview of how the system works and walked them through the workflow and features, you’re only halfway through the battle. First and foremost, reps need to learn how they’re going to actually do their jobs with these new tools at hand – and they’ll need ongoing support to make sure those lessons stick.

Talk benefits, not features

You wouldn’t start a sales conversation by listing all the great features of your product or service. The same goes for your knowledge sharing strategy. Lead with the biggest pain points (like the fact reps spend almost a third of their time looking for or creating content) and how sharing knowledge can save them hours every week. After all, they need to know it’s worth their attention.

Make it fun

Gamifying knowledge sharing – in other words, introducing game elements into the process – can provide an added motivation for reps to share. Whether it’s points they can cash in for rewards or just a little friendly competition on a leaderboard, the possibilities are limitless.

Incentivize usage

If fun isn’t enough of a reward on its own, you can tie your reps’ incentives into your sharing strategy each time you hit a milestone or a goal. Because sharing works best when everyone’s on board, these goals should be team-oriented vs. rewarding individual performance. Make sure to focus on outcomes from knowledge sharing, not the act of sharing itself.

Lead by example

Set an example for the team by sharing your own knowledge. Not only will your reps benefit from the insights and tips you share, but it’ll grease the wheels for them to start sharing, too. So the next time you close a tough sale, record a quick video explaining how it went and make it available to everyone else on the team.

The bottom line: show – not just tell – reps how knowledge sharing fits into their day and makes their jobs easier. If they see it as yet another complicated task that eats into a busy day, your adoption will suffer. But if they understand and experience the benefits, and see it’s not actually a time sink, you’re one step closer to building great habits around sharing.

If you’re looking for a good place to start, tackle your playbook. Gone are the days of huge binders crammed with every tip in the known universe, or best practices scattered across your systems. (No wonder reps can’t or don’t want to share). The modern playbook has sharing built in – a good first step to unlocking your team’s knowledge and opening the lines of communication.

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