One of the many questions we get asked a lot, and often from sales leaders and learning and development experts, is:
how do we make sure the skills gained in the sales training are applied to drive long term results?
According to Gartner research, B2B salespeople forget 70% of the information they learn within a week of training.
And moreover, 87% will forget it within a month.
But the answer is not to avoid sales training altogether. No, that would be most ridiculous and detrimental to the performance of your team.
Because in doing so you risk underskilled salespeople staying on in your organisation.
But even more damaging, is you also risk losing valuable people because they are not being developed to their full potential.
So what is the answer to how do we make sure skills gained in the sales training are applied?
Well, it’s DB-DD-MA. Define Before, Development During, Measurement After.
1. DEFINE BEFORE
Before you embark on sales training for your team, begin by actively involving each person in their learning development.
That means defining exactly where their challenges are and how the training will benefit the growth of both them professionally and the organisation.
This is an important step because if you have not defined the expectations of your training program then how do you expect to hold your people accountable? Tell everyone who is going on the training. Clearly define outcomes.
Next, complete an analysis of the skills of your existing sales team. Good training organisations will offer this as part of their discovery sessions.
Fundamentally, involve your Sales Leaders! These valuable team players are so important in making this work.
It is your sales leaders and managers who will play the biggest part in embedding the learnings from the training and making it last the long term.
2. DEVELOPMENT DURING
But here are a few additional thoughts to consider during training sessions.
- Teach your people how to give and receive feedback on the training and their learning ability
- Get everyone to commit to the next steps, that is what they will do next with the information they have learned
- Instill a value of note taking and instant knowledge application
- And the biggest win! As a Sales Leader – be at the training as well. From our feedback of salespeople, nothing says ‘this isn’t that important’ to your team more than if their Leader is ‘too busy to attend. It’s also a massively missed opportunity on your behalf to see first-hand the team in a different setting to the day-to-day grind.
3. MEASUREMENT AFTER
Once training is over, have your sales managers track the follow-up commitments made by their team. Here is how.
Coaching, Coaching, and More Coaching
At the start, you defined the skills and behaviours the training was designed to impact.
Stay true to this effort and see the process through. Now is the time to double down on coaching activities around those competencies.
This is where you get the value from the training. Set out coaching objectives based on the training for the sales leaders and their teams and make sure they adhere to it. This must be treated as a priority discussion point in your weekly meetings.
Plan a follow-up internal communication campaign.
That includes highlighting areas of best practice and who’s doing well implementing their new skills.
Also, note the stories of achievement using the new learnings.
Visualise the Learnings
Part of keeping your training alive, we encourage sales managers and their teams to do a video replay of what they’ve learned.
This has proven so successful and is much more beneficial that than a ‘test’ to ensure the knowledge is embedded.
Record their learning takeaways and have their managers take note on areas they need to focus on in follow up coaching.
Additionally, make sure you maintain their active involvement in the learning process.
That means have each salesperson also include their plan in how they are implementing the new knowledge.
This embeds the learnings and is crucial for accountability.
Continuing from the point on active involvement, give your sales teams an opportunity to be heard.
Peer support learning is a strong way to embed and reinforce new ideas.
If a new win was influenced by what was taught in training, have the salesperson write up an internal brief using the terminology.
Share the knowledge and the rewards.