Studies indicate that participants in traditional curriculum-based training forget more than 80 percent of the information they were taught within 90 days.
Sales training that sticks, however, results in behavior change because it’s reinforced. That requires involvement and buy-in from both sales leaders and salespeople.
But how do you develop that level of commitment if salespeople see training as unnecessary, and management sees it as expensive but not something they need to participate in?
You need to utilize change management thinking and help people imagine the possibilities as training is developed and implemented, and once it’s over.
Here’s 5 guidelines we use here at The Brooks Group.
1. Intentional Planning
Instructional designers ask salespeople, leaders, and also the C-suite, specific, targeted questions to align training with the customer’s goals to create training that lasts. Here’s some examples:
- What are the learner’s current pains?
- What do learners stand to gain?
- What are each learner’s unique skills?
- Where do they need improvement?
- What is their unmet need?
- What KPIs does the organization track?
- What do salespeople say when management isn’t around (and vice versa)?
- What do I see when looking through the lens of upstream and downstream results?
At The Brooks Group, we ask people questions until we stop hearing unique feedback. That lets us know we’ve uncovered the perceived pain people are facing.
Additional digging may be required to uncover the effect that pain has had throughout an organization. The people you interview may be unaware of these challenges. For example, if sales don’t improve by next quarter, a company may be considering layoffs.
It’s important to know as much as you can about the effects a problem has on a company before attempting to solve it.
When it does come time to build training, we look at it through two lenses: upstream and downstream. This answers the question “how will the training affect the organization’s corporate vision, leadership team, salespeople?”.
The salespeople’s day to day after training is downstream. Training should be immediately applicable to the salesperson’s existing work day. Any reinforcement activities to be completed between sessions should enhance and improve upon what salespeople are already doing—and not simply add extra work.
The C-suite and corporate vision is upstream. The goal when looking upstream is to connect the dots between training and the corporate strategy, or a specific goal the company is in the process of accomplishing.
Buy-in and commitment are created on all levels when people understand how training will have long-term effects on their workday, and corporate goals.
2. Communicate Value
There are typically 20 to 25 selling days in a month. A salesperson working to meet quota can’t help but see a two-day long training as a 10% loss of selling time.
You must help learners imagine the possibility of the training they’re about to take, and how it will support and improve customer satisfaction and internal key performance indicators (KPIs).
Perhaps your salespeople are battling a pervasive industry-wide objection in most accounts. Sales are down, people are stressed, and struggling to meet goals. Simply announcing a new sales training probably won’t be received well.
Imagine the response however—if instead—you announce a sales training specifically designed to overcome the objection they are facing every day! Communicating value makes a big difference.
3. Teach To The Individual, Not Just The Room
Whether it’s one-on-one training with a facilitator, role playing in small groups, or breakout sessions—there is always an individualized component to sales training that sticks.
Instructional designers must create activities that directly apply to the learner’s world, and show them how to implement what they’re learning into existing workflows.
Our programs are designed to allow our facilitators to pivot as needed, ensuring pain points are discussed. If a question comes up that demands attention, time should be spent answering it. Or perhaps an activity merits an additional 5-10 minutes. Meeting the learners where they’re at will prove to be well worth the time when those post-training surveys roll back in.
It also helps create relentless resiliency in an organization.
Relentless Resiliency: an unflinching attitude in one’s own ability to pivot their mindset allowing them to become flexible in the face of opposition.
4. Reinforce Ideas
This is the big one.
Ultimately, “training that sticks” can be measured by a change in mindset, activity, and results. The proper reinforcement of ideas may be one of the most vital aspects to achieve this end. When The Brooks Group facilitates your training, we’ll offer a few types of reinforcement customized to your needs.
There are two ways to reinforce ideas: customized skill-based reinforcement, and coaching.
Customized skill-based reinforcement is strictly knowledge based. After training we send multiple choice or true/false questions to sales reps through an app. Those responses make it easy to see which concepts an individual (or the entire group) need to revisit.
There are multiple options when it comes to coaching. The Brooks Group can set up your sales managers with SalesYear—a program designed to reinforce concepts learned in training through a year’s worth of supplemental content for your existing sales meetings.
We also offer ‘live’ virtual coaching sessions with our Sales Effectiveness Directors. This coaching is designed to continue connecting the concepts with the issues of the moment by helping salespeople effectively apply the training.
On the last day of training we ask learners to write down three things they are going to implement. We teach sales leaders to coach individuals with simple questions like:
“What specific success have you had with the three things you wrote down?”
“What skills are you struggling within your daily sales process?”
“What’s happening now in your interactions (e.g., new objections, new product rollout, etc.), and how might you use the skills to work through any issues?
Questions like these allow coaches to do what they do best—lead people into further learning, growth, and professional development. No matter the choice, reinforcing ideas continues to connect the “upstream and downstream lens” of your organization with the training provided.
The Nation’s Best Virtual Sales Training
Reinforcement is what makes training stick.
If you haven’t attended IMPACT Selling® in the last 5 years it’s time to do so! Investopedia evaluated over 30 sales training programs and named IMPACT Selling® Professional Virtual Sales Training the best virtual sales training program of its kind.
IMPACT is designed to strengthen every aspect of your team’s selling skills, so sellers can close more deals with the best chance of creating happy—and repeat—customers. The Brooks Group will meet each learner where they are, teach our proven sales process that’s been taught to over one million sales professionals, and give you a plan to reinforce concepts in the months following the training.
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