Sales training is a multibillion-dollar business. In the U.S. alone, the market is estimated to be worth more than $5 billion per annum. Yet, according to Dave Stein’s e-book, “The 120-day Curse,” between 85 and 90 percent of sales training has no lasting impact after 120 days. If you do the math, that’s somewhere north of 4.25 billion dollars that goes up in smoke every year.
There’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to training, and unfortunately, the way we measure training’s effectiveness is not always accurate. Questionnaires handed out to participants after the training may well reflect how satisfied participants were with the training, but hardly ever provide any insight into the effectiveness of the training itself.
That’s because there’s a difference between learning and doing.
Here are five things that contribute significantly to increase training effectiveness.
1. Engage participants before the training
If the objective of training is to produce some kind of marked change in participants, the process starts well before the training event does. Engaging participants in carefully designed, relevant and thought-provoking pre-work ensures they start to reflect on their own performance, thereby highlighting gaps and potential opportunities for improvement.
This is a key factor in fostering openness in the training.
2. Customize all aspects of training
Customization is absolutely crucial in boosting training effectiveness. Everything from the training content, flow, curriculum, language, examples, stories, cases and group activities should be completely tailored to the audience. The alternative is to face implicit rejection and an audience that acts “blasé” – or, in some cases, openly hostile.
3. Link learning objectives to strategic objectives
If we assume that the objective of training is not “to learn” but to produce some kind of change in skill set, mindset or behavior, the question becomes what type of change.
The most effective training programs I’ve seen consistently link directly and clearly to strategic objectives. Want to grow market share? Train your people on prospecting skills. Want to increase client retention rates? Train them on customer service skills or strategic account management.
4. Link the “classroom world” to the real world
One of the major gripes with training is that many feel that the theoretical concepts that are taught are applicable only in the sterile, academic world of the classroom – but fall short once they’re tested in the real world.
In part, this is simply due to the learning curve. It’s easy to practice a new skill in the relatively safe environment of a classroom setting, but far more challenging when under fire in the humdrum of the day-to-day.
Unfortunately, many theoretical concepts fall short when applied to real-world situations. Invite a past or current client to facilitate group discussions or role plays. Have participants bring in a deal, case or problem they’re currently working on. All great ways of linking the classroom world to the real world.
5. Boost implementation with post-training reinforcement
Anyone who’s ever tried anything new know it’s easier said than done.
Which is why it is so crucial to provide some kind of ongoing reinforcement after the initial “training event” has taken place including management coaching, peer group, Q&A, regular check-ins, email reinforcement and webinars.
Regardless of the format, post-training reinforcement ensures participants have a place to ask questions, discuss and overcome challenges, get mutual support and encouragement and retain concepts learned.
Providing a well-executed, tailored, relevant training experience is crucial to boosting training effectiveness and getting results in the real world.