Perhaps you’ve received solicitations for training seminars, webinars and workshops that make promises to “Transform your work force”…. “Unleash sales reps’ potential” …“Share the 20 secrets every rep must know”… and the ever-popular “Overcome objections to close more deals”.
Every business wants more sales and better performers. That’s why business owners often attend and/or send their people to seminars and webinars that promise immediate results. Each year, companies spend anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars per employee for the quick dip in the training pool – hoping this time will be different.
Then, a few short weeks later, the owner realizes what changed – NOTHING. No change in behavior; no change in skills, knowledge or attitudes; no change in business results.
This is not to say one-time workshops have no value. Many contain useful information and may provide opportunities to practice techniques. But whether it’s the one-hour webinar or an all-day training event, the results are almost always short lived. As Dr. Scott Geller of Virginia Tech notes, “training is doing a behavior and getting feedback” and “online training is an oxymoron.”
In all day training, problems become more pronounced as facilitators cover multiple topics in a condensed schedule. By mid-afternoon, meeting fatigue and the distractions prevalent in the smart phone era further shrink attention spans. And when participants return to work, they often file away the training materials, never to see them again.
Why this traditional approach fails to deliver on the promise
Research shows that a one-time exposure to information results in people forgetting 95% of the content just two weeks later! This fact, combined with a lack of focus on the key factors required to learn and truly change, are the primary reasons why traditional training often fails. And most training companies know it; which is why they often use these forums to promote more training, their books, DVDs, and follow-on services.
What does work and why?
We became who we are over time. People learn from repeated exposure to ideas and information, reinforced by habit and improved with practice. And one size doesn’t fit all. For example, new sales reps are just forming their work habits. Experienced sales people have ingrained habits – including a few bad ones. They may need to ‘unlearn what they have learned’ as Yoda counseled Luke Skywalker. Both types of sales reps need a sales development process tailored to their needs.
Maximize your return on training investment (ROTI).
When deciding how to invest in training and professional development, consider the following:
- Invest in a development process, not training events. A professional development process allows people to internalize, develop and apply knowledge and skills, and receive timely feedback.
- Make certain the process teaches people what they need to know based on the business’ needs and culture, not a ‘one-size fits all’ seminar. Tailor or customize content as needed.
- Give your people time to learn and internalize ideas and information; and time to form new habits. Professional development is more effective when delivered via multiple, shorter sessions over time (weekly or semi-weekly). Proven methods such as spaced repetition learning helps people retain information and the facilitator can apply a variety of teaching methods.
- Athletes and musicians do it. So should your people. Allow people time to practice and receive candid feedback from an internal coach.
- Transform your managers into coaches. If internal resources are limited, consider investing in a part-time, external coach.
- Understand the role that individuals’ attitudes play in determining success. Your professional development process should teach people how to replace negative, underlying attitudes with new ones that stop self-defeating subconscious thoughts. For example, many sales people fail because they subconsciously fear rejection; avoid networking and public speaking and other activities required for success in sales. Help them overcome these self-imposed barriers.
- Align training goals with business goals. Focus on results and create a plan to achieve them.
Finally, think of the development process as an investment and measure the return. Your upfront investment may be a bit more than that one-time webinar or workshop, but the pay back will be significantly greater with positive, lasting results.
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