Category Archives: Sales Training
May the joy of the season stay with you throughout the year.
In our last post, we reviewed groundbreaking research from The University of California, Irvine. Researchers studying the “pretesting effect” determined that taking a test before exposure to the material enhanced learning, even when participants answered questions incorrectly. The act of pretesting outperformed the experience of having more time to study or even reading the test in advance. When learners put pencil to paper and attempted to retrieve information, they became more receptive to the content later. Their findings were definitive across five different studies. However, one question remained: why does pretesting work?
The researchers theorized that pretesting works by building retrieval routes that prime the learning process. Additionally, they suggest that pretesting might encourage “deep processing” of the question, giving learners a jump start on encoding answers. Here, we take these questions as inspiration to explore what makes learning stick. Answering this question begins with an understanding of why we forget in the first place.
For over 100 years, a finding called the Ebbinghaus Curve influenced theories about how we remember information. The curve — a downward, sloping line — shows that retention of information fades over time. Some also call it the Forgetting Curve.
UCLA psychologists in the 1980s, however, discovered an interesting characteristic hiding within Ebbinghaus’s research. They discovered that the original test subjects failed to remember the material because they were asked to recall a string of nonsense words like “sok” and “dus.” The participants couldn’t » Continue Reading.
What makes a great sales trainer?
This was the subject of my previous post, found here. In it, I discussed a number of traits that I consider table stakes for great sales trainers.
So, now the question becomes: How can sales training facilitators up their game?
To go above and beyond the basic requirements — to really stand out as an exceptional facilitator — it’s important to stay tuned to what is happening in your fields of play (sales and learning and development) and integrate that knowledge appropriately to remain credible and relevant. From a skills perspective, it is important to continue your professional growth with a focus on mastering your content so you are modeling it effectively. Listening skills and effective coaching skills are critical to a trainer’s ability to create and illuminate lightbulbs, or “aha” moments. Executing in-the-moment coaching to provide specific, accurate feedback that will equip and inspire learners to apply classroom learning in the real world is a nuanced, next-level, and important skill set.
Here are a few suggestions:
Let’s start with table stakes.
It is truly an honor to work so closely with Richardson’s facilitators, who in my humble opinion are the very best sales training professionals in our industry. When I think about our team and what it is that makes them “the very best,” a few things come to mind. They are masters of the fundamentals, or “table stakes,” of training, and they are skilled subject matter experts in Richardson’s content and in selling. Here is how I describe our team:
They are passionate about their craft, and it shows in their work. They connect quickly and easily with their learners. They create a risk-free environment for learning, and they earn the right to push participants to stretch beyond their comfort zones. They are subject matter experts, and they are skilled coaches who understand the real challenges salespeople face in the field. They model the skills that they teach while also drawing out best practices from the participants in the room. Most importantly, they tailor each classroom experience to meet learners where they are, which ensures the learning is real. Relevance is a critical success factor in the application of learning.
When a facilitator brings those characteristics together in a Richardson workshop, the result is a challenging, relevant learning experience that prepares and inspires sales reps to engage in genuine, customer-focused conversations that result in high-value, needs-based solutions. When that happens, we » Continue Reading.
It is impossible to apply knowledge that you can’t remember. That’s why Richardson works with clients to develop a robust sustainment element to their training programs. It’s all part of what I like to call the learning hug: wrapping services and support around training to make it stick. Part I of this series, Training Services Wrap Around and Support Learning, explains the concept. Part II, Preparing for Change, addresses ways to prepare both the organization and its learners for what is to come.
This post focuses on the post-training period and the tools, practices, and assets that need to be in place to reinforce learning and embed new behaviors into “the way we do things here.” We need to help people retain the knowledge they have gained, apply it in real life, and receive evidence-based feedback and coaching to continuously improve.
The first thing to acknowledge is that learning is a process, not an event. What neuroscience tells us is that it’s not the learning itself that embeds knowledge in the brain, it’s recalling that learning that does the trick. You actually have to make yourself go back, find it somewhere in your head, and bring it forward – and then the learning clicks.
Sustaining Learning on the Go
Mobile technology makes it possible to reinforce learning on the go with social learning and gamification programs. Bite-sized bits of learning are reinforced » Continue Reading.
Before you drop people into a learning environment, it’s important to prepare not just your learners but your organization for change. This is part of what I call the learning hug, wrapping services and support around training to make it stick. Part I of this series, Training Services Wrap Around and Support Learning, explains the concept.
Now, let’s talk about the run-up to training. Before teaching people new things, you need to consider ways to prepare the organization so that the learning fits and will be reinforced. In other words, what are you doing to prepare the ground for planting new seeds of knowledge?
Years ago, at the start of my career, I was a social worker involved with helping children who had mental and behavioral challenges. What was essential to our work was making sure there were services wrapped around each case so the entire family could live at home together safely.
When I think of our work at Richardson, helping sales professionals improve their selling skills and their performance, a similar wrapping concept applies. Specifically, training services need to be wrapped around the learning we provide to make sure our clients demonstrate the right behaviors within the sales environment. This wrapping of services is what I like to call the learning hug.
Think of it like this: The heart of what we offer clients is a blended learning solution that accelerates behavior change. There’s online learning of basic concepts, workshops for practice and application of skills, discussion boards to share experiences and ideas, and analytics to target areas of need. In addition to this core of our adaptive learning platform is a suite of services that encircles the learning experience.
While training is the most essential and visible element of our work, more effort is needed to make sure the learning translates into behavior change back on the job. If we don’t provide the necessary support, any training undertaken by sales professionals that isn’t immediately applied is quickly forgotten. For learning to be sustained, training participants have » Continue Reading.
Learning needs are influenced by the selling environment. The current sales environment is demanding, filled with more informed buyers who expect increasing amounts of responsiveness and attention. Sellers need to upskill to meet the needs of their clients and ensure they are generating revenue for their companies.
In a recent interview with Chief Learning Officer Magazine, Richardson’s new CMO, Andrea Grodnitzky, took a moment to provide her insights into the trends that are likely to influence the learning needs of sales organizations in 2017.
Chief among these insights was a need for solutions that respect the time constraints sales professionals constantly face by finding innovative solutions that are as effective as they are convenient. Click here to learn more about 2017 trends in learning and development for sales organizations.