We are all aware that training is an essential part of developing your sales force. With regular turnover and today’s changing sales environment, you can’t remain competitive without continually upgrading the skills of your sales team.
The annual investment in sales training in the US is estimated to be more than $5 billion. This means that on average, US companies spend about $5,000 per sales performer annually, including the cost of travel, materials and time away from the job. Dave Stein, a highly respected learning and development consultant has suggested that upwards of 92% of all training goes to waste. The reason – nothing changes AFTER the training. That means the bulk of the skills experienced in the classroom never get transferred back to the job. In other words, there is no learning to life.
Learning transfer is the ongoing application of new knowledge and skills to on-the-job performance, leading to the improved business results initially targeted by the training.
In order for learning transfer to occur, the student must both retain knowledge of concepts learned and choose to apply them on the job. If the learner can recite the concepts or processes learned in class but does not use them, training retention has occurred but learning transfer has not. After all, the ultimate goal of training is to change and improve behavior. If skills learned in training are not applied or are applied ineffectively, then the training has limited to no impact.
Another way to look at learning transfer is through the following equation:
Research by Sales Performance International shows that approximately 16% of unreinforced training content is retained after 90 days, on average. (See chart below).
According to The 120-Day Curse, an e-book by Dave Stein, somewhere between 85 and 90% of sales training has no lasting impact after 120 days.
So what is the solution to the learning transfer problem? How can you maximize the significant investment in any sales training effort? There is no single practice that will dramatically increase learning transfer by itself. However, there are several things you can do before, during and after sales training that will have a combined, lasting impact, whether you are delivering in-house or vendor-led training.
1. Obtain participation and buy-in
2. Modify the work environment
3. Prepare sales managers
4. Distribute preparation activity (prework) and make learners accountable to complete it
5. Arrange pre-training conferences
1. Create a productive learning environment
2. Reinforce buy-in
3. Ensure adequate time for practice
4. Provide job aids
5. Allow time for action planning
1. Ensure manager support and reinforcement
2. Obtain participation and buy-in
3. Provide refresher training
4. Recognize and reward learning transfer/celebrate early wins
5. Ensure peer support
The time and effort you invest in these strategies significantly increase the return on your training investment. They will also contribute to stronger partnerships between key stakeholders, such as senior, middle and front-line management, HR, Training & Development and the end learner/sales performer.
Joanne Krettek has spent nearly her entire career in the banking and financial services industry. Before joining St. Meyer & Hubbard, she was employed by Chemical Bank (Midland, MI) for over 10 years in a variety of positions, including Training Director, HR Generalist and VP/Branch Administrator. She has first-hand knowledge of the challenges banks face in developing and maintaining a sales culture, both from a training/HR and front-line perspective. Joanne has experience with designing/implementing sales incentive programs, sales-based behavioral job descriptions and sales management tracking tools. She has personally developed and trained numerous sales and referral courses for all levels and nearly all departments of the bank, from tellers to support staff to commercial lenders and sales managers.
Prior to joining Chemical Bank, Joanne had previous experience working for a national sales training and consulting company, managing a team of instructional designers and maintaining several key client relationships. She also served as an account executive for a national marketing firm. Joanne's current position with St. Meyer & Hubbard involves the development of customized classroom and web-based learning tools for financial institutions, based on initial needs analysis and client conversations. Most recently, she has worked with Chief Consultant Ron Buck to develop comprehensive training for financial institutions who adopt St. Meyer & Hubbard's automated performance scorecards, powered by Performance Navigator℠. This training equips both sales managers and sales performers with the ability to identify insights from performance scorecards and use these insights to continually improve sales performance.
Joanne graduated from Dominican University with an education certificate and has participated in numerous ongoing education courses related to human resource management and instructional design.
Holly Sansone has extensive experience in consulting related to sales and sales management practices, initiative implementation, and incentive plans. She also has significant experience with needs analyses, solution design and development, and blended learning design and training. Holly has provided these services in different degrees to numerous lines of business within major financial institutions including: retail sales and service, wealth management, trust, retail investment, in-store banking, small business, commercial banking, commercial real estate and residential mortgage.
Holly’s position with St. Meyer & Hubbard as Executive Curriculum Designer marks the culmination of more than 20 years experience within the banking and consulting industries. Before joining St. Meyer & Hubbard, she worked with two other global consulting firms where she was responsible for managing client relationships of major financial institutions such as Wachovia Bank and Scotiabank, including conducting needs analyses as well as designing and developing performance solutions. Prior to joining the consulting industry, Holly spent ten years at St. Paul Federal Bank in a variety of positions, including Branch Manager, Senior Investment Representative, Senior Personal Banker, and Senior Training Specialist.
Holly graduated suma cum laude from Coe College, holds an M.B.A. with distinction from Lewis University, and has received her Masters Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University. She has been licensed for Series 7 and Series 63, and earned a Life Producers License.