How to make sales training stick

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One of the biggest complaints about sales training is that the things learned in the training rarely if ever get incorporated into the work habits of the participants.

The training might have been entertaining, and maybe even full of great material that – if applied – could really improve things for those who used it. Unfortunately, in most cases, the content is usually forgotten by the time the participants come back to work the day after the training is over, and it just never gets used on a regular basis.

In other words, training that is not set up and executed the right way is a big waste of time and money. Period.

So if you’re going to invest in a sales training, how can you make sure that the people who go through the training actually learn something useful AND actually use what they learn to be more effective in their craft?

Some trainings acknowledge and try to address this problem, but still fall short of the goal:

  • They award a certificate of completion, but that only shows that someone was in the room or watched something online.
  • Some trainings end with a test – but while that shows that someone was paying attention during the training, it doesn’t really do anything to help make sure that the things learned in the training get used when the training is done.
  • And some trainings try to make the experience fun (edutainment) or exciting (gamification) which is great for engagement, but still doesn’t ensure that the things learned in the training are actually brought into and used in the field.

So what can you do?

How can you make sure that the things learned in the training are the things people should be learning, and that once they are learned, they are brought into the field?

The short version of the answer is pretty simple, although mostly not done.

Here it is:

The training can’t be seen as an event (i.e. a one-time thing)

To be effective, a sales training for reps should be a part of a program that has some elements before the training and some elements after the training.

The elements before should set up the training to help ensure that when the training is done, it will be used.

The elements after should be about incorporating the things learned in the training into the work that your reps (and managers!) do to get new business.

If you don’t plan to do that, go have a team building event instead. At least there is a chance that everyone will enjoy themselves.

But if your goal is to improve sales effectiveness, plan for more than a one-day event, and plan the before, during and after parts of the program before you get started – at least if you want to get something out of your next sales training that is actually going to stick!

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