Six Ways to Ensure Your Sales Training "Sticks"
As a business owner or sales and recruiter leader, the first hurdle you must overcome with your new hire on-boarding and training program is to capture and keep your learners attention. If you bore them, you will lose them. According to Xerox, 87% of sales training is forgotten after just one month of the training.
The good news is that sales training doesn’t have to be boring and unforgettable. Sales training can and should be engaging, motivating, and fun. Yes, fun! Instead of dry, boring lectures and death by PowerPoint you can combine technology with content to drive improved learner engagement and training results.
Here are six ways to ensure your sales training sticks.
Sales people are naturally competitive. They’ll compete against the competition, their teammates, and of course, themselves. I suggest you use gamification to harness that energy. Not only does it make learning more exciting, but it brings out the best in your new hires and your entire sales team to compete for recognition among their peers. Like any good coach, you need to make everything you do a competition.
Try incorporating flashcard-based games your salespeople can play on their phones or gamified quizzes with leader boards, activity badges, and online contests. These elements drive competition and provide managers with visibility into individual and team performance.
Where do people go when they want to learn a new skill or fix something? They turn to how-to videos. With that in mind, create "how to" videos to help your sales reps learn about key concepts and strategies, remember them, and revisit them anytime, anywhere. Breaking down sales tactics and techniques into small bite size videos improves learning retention. Ask your reps to video record themselves executing the techniques they're taught so their supervisor and peers can watch and and learn from. Talk about engagement!
You’ve probably heard the term “tribal knowledge” which means unwritten knowledge (unofficial policy or procedure) and best practices that should be known by others in the company to produce top results. Social learning is learning that takes place through social interactions between peers. Have you ever seen sales people interact at a sales kickoff meeting or sales conferences? The life of the party right? Humans have a need to connect with each other because we're social in nature.
Technology can help bridge the gap by providing a platform in which sales reps can learn together and from each other. Using a training platform such as a learning management system can deliver all sorts of training benefits including social learning elements that encourage sharing and discussing ideas, and best practices.
Social Learning Tip: Nothing gets sales reps more engaged in sales training then when they can watch each other's video recorded sales roles play and reading the managers feedback and comments on those effectiveness of those completed role play video assignments. This is social learning at it's finest!
Training fails when the leader puts a higher value or stronger emphasis on time-to-completion rather than developing the skills and being able to execute. To keep the focus of your training program on skills development and the ability to execute your sales methodology, create and apply metrics that track learners skill and knowledge comprehension and the ability to execute. This helps participants visualize in real-time where their skills are strong and where they need work. Sales people are more likely to avoid applying skills they lack confidence in, so seeing their strengths and weaknesses helps foster the confidence they need to execute in the heat of the moment.
Studies by psychologists reveal that children need to be exposed to a concept 21 times before they can remember and internalize it. The number of times sales people (adults) need to be exposed to a concept in training is debatable but the concept is not: We need repeated exposure to messages over time to internalize and act on them. The is especially true with sales skill development. We don’t attend a single day of training and come out having mastered the skill. True learning comes afterward, from applying the concepts, skills, knowledge and methods.
For the best results, design your program as a journey. Create short learning modules that can be done during the workday or on the go. Mixing in reinforcement workshops with your online learning is a great way to give people time to practice executing the skills with a coach, colleague or team member and get the feedback they need to improve. Finally, give them a platform that pulls everything they need into one place (preferably on their phones) and collects the data they need to see themselves improve and measure the results.
Sales training doesn’t have to be boring and it can deliver fast results when done right. Most importantly, to get your sales people excited about training, learning and development and make it a fun and engaging experience by creating relevant and memorable content . These strategies will get your salespeople excited to elevate their game to the next level.
Watching a Michael Jordan basketball video is not going to make you shoot like Michael Jordan. Sales training is no different; it takes time and dedication working with a coach to change behavior and internalize new skills.
Research from Ventana shows that training ROI quadruples from 22% to 88% when reinforced with sales coaching. And research from the Center for Management and Organizational Effectiveness found that when training is reinforced with coaching, productivity led to an increase of 88% vs. 23% from training alone. It’s pretty clear that if you want to see results-and ROI-from your training, you need to have reinforcement coaching. For your training to truly stick long term your front line managers must posses the coaching skills drive the behavioral change.
What are you doing to ensure your new hire training and on-boarding is sticking with your employees? How fun and engaging is your new hire training and on-boarding program? Let's start a conversation in the comments section below.
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.