Why sales training is pointless


by Ron D’Andrea


It is estimated that businesses spend over $160 billion annually on employee learning and training in the US alone. However research also shows that 90% of what we learn is forgotten within 30 days meaning $144 billion is wasted annually. There is obviously a desperate need for training and upskilling driven by employees’ willingness to learning in terms of job growth, performance, income, and both personal and professional satisfaction. However there also seems to be a critical challenge businesses face to ensure that the training sticks and new skills are used immediately back on the job. The success of the training industry depends on its ability to ensure that the training provided provides a measurable, sustainable ROI.

“No matter how much you invest into training and development, nearly everything you teach to your employees will be forgotten. Art Kohn PHD, Professor, Author & Consultant.

The infographic below was produced by Mckinsey and Company.  It clearly shows why the vast majority of training isn’t recalled easily and why so much of the investment is wasted.

The key learning taken from the research can be reduced to six points:

  1. Small and often: The modern attention span has reduced dramatically over the last few years as the amount of data we are being forced to process has dramatically increased. It is therefore difficult for any one to retain more than a small amount of new information and process it.
  2. Workplaces need to cut out the noise: Emails, texts, meetings, social media all contribute to creating a space where focusing on new information and applying it is very difficult.
  3. The training should be specific and applied: 70% of employees turn to Google for answers to on the job questions. This means they are getting generic answers which may be counter productive and even directly opposed to your company values and ethos.

There are serious business benefits to training employees though. Only 38% of staff believe that they have access to long term development, and only 1% of their time is dedicated to training. Any business that gets it right can stand out dramatically from the competition.

So what measures should a business deploy to ensure that a higher percentage of training is remembered and applied?

In our opinion it breaks down to three key areas:

  1. Content should be focused on REAL LIFE situations: The more relevant and applicable the training to the day to day running of YOUR business and situations, the more your employees will use the skills immediately back on the job. This usage in itself will increase the likelihood of new skills “sticking” as practice is always far more memorable than theory. 
  1. Micro-manage the content: Yes, you can conduct standard workshops but in our mind time out of the field in training should identify key pain points, isolate and practise new skills, test theories and experience first hand the tangible results. Ongoing reinforcement should be bite-sized so that individuals can access it whenever they have space and time and encouraged NOT to use Google. 
  1. It should be shared: The big issue with training is that the buying organisation often pays per seat due to budgetary restrictions, and this often creates silo based thinking. This can have a tremendous negative impact on an organisation when you have different departments and geographies using different methods and in effect talking a different language. Therefore, finding a training company that allows their IP to be freely shared across the organisation would help the implementation of new thinking and create a higher likelihood for innovation. * 

Training can provide serious ongoing benefits for any organisation. However, before you spend vital resources (both in time and money) we highly recommend you carefully consider your goals/targets  and what YOU can do to ensure it is achieved.

* as far as we know only GPG allow their IP to be freely shared within an organisation. We hope in the future that this would become the standard working practise for training companies.

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