My all-time favorite training class was on the topic of accounting – no kidding. I once attended a training class on finance for nonfinancial managers and we had to set up a lemonade stand. We had to create a P&L, a balance statement, even figure out capital expenditures. To this day this is one of my favorite training classes because it was so engaging and fun – and educational. I retained about 10% of what I learned in that class.
My students tell me they love my sales training program. It is engaging, interesting, filled with new strategies and cool apps. But I know from experience that once the class is over, all but about 10% go back to their old routines.
I have been in the training world for a long time. And yes, that 10% adoption rate bugs me. A lot.
So, how can you make learning last? I have learned these four things to be true.
1 – What gets measured gets done (thank you John Vernon!).
2 – Training without reinforcement is just entertainment.
3 – Positive recognition trumps beating people with a stick every time.
4 – Training lasts longer when more employees feel a sense of ownership over the content. If only the decision maker owns it, that is trouble.
We all know we must find some way to measure new skills after any training class. Mystery shopping can be effective if the students agree with the measurement. If you measure a set of skills that a salesperson doesn’t believe will close more sales, you will be frustrated with your shopping results.
Short terms contests are also great to measure success and reinforce skills. If they are done right. Current research suggests that traditional sales contests like a winner take all or the opposite, everybody gets a trophy, can both be demotivating. And a waste of money. Probably not your goal.
With the one big winner takes all approach, your top performers continue to perform best because that is what they do anyway. Your medium performers feel defeated before the contest even starts. When everyone gets a trophy, both your top and middle performers get irritated.
Instead, create a contest around both activities (behavior changes) and results. But also introduce some level of chance. This approach has proven to motivate more than your typical top performers.
For example, activities might be the number of prospecting emails sent. A result might be a closed deal, or a site inspection. Each activity or result gets assigned a value. One way to introduce an element of chance is to make each entry a spin on a wheel of fortune. Depending on where they land, there is a bonus point system available from 1-30. For example, instead of getting one point for a prospecting email, you get 1 spin. That spin might end up getting you 10 or 20 points.
If you don’t do the activities or close the sales, you won’t get to spin, so efforts must be made. But if you typically come in 4th or 5th, this approach levels the playing field just a bit. It has proven to be motivating and fun. And a great way to reinforce the new skills that were just introduced in a training session. The result is good reinforcement without demotivation.
The most effective way I have found to get long term adoption of new training skills is to ensure more people own it. One way of owning it is to have to teach it yourself. You learn more if you think you will have to teach it.
What better way to ensure that others pay attention than by giving them the opportunity to reinforce the class in the future? And if the managers know the content, they are much more likely to reinforce the skills daily.
When I put my own company together, I wanted to do things that would ensure better adoption rates. So, I created a model that allows my clients to teach my stuff. I encourage it by providing them with the tools and support to do it.
My role then becomes two-fold. First, a coach – not everyone is comfortable training and they need some help from time to time. Second, a researcher. I stay valuable if I am finding new strategies and technologies to take my clients further. Everybody wins.
The results? A better ROI on sales training that is easier to sell to your boss.
To find out more about my program, visit my website and set up a 30-minute demo. You will be glad you did!