Here at Mindmarker, we’re often asked how we can ensure that the sales training an employee just went through will be effective and increase the organization’s bottom line.
Why is sales training reinforcement needed? And what can you do to help ensure that the results are long lasting?
It’s only natural that you begin to forget information, that’s how the human mind works. And you’ve probably heard it before, but for training to truly be effective, it has to be reinforced after your training event has ended.
Training Reinforcement in Your Learning Culture
By reinforcing your sales training, you are not only increasing knowledge retention and skills, you are also beginning to shape your sales team’s behaviors to better match your organization’s goals. Training reinforcement should become an integral part of your training culture, with a seamless transition from your training event into weekly reinforcement.
You’ve may have heard a few of these before:
- “Was that covered in the course?”
- “I don’t think I had enough training.”
- “I need a refresher, I can’t remember exactly.”
- “Can you help me? What are supposed to do here again?”
The typical sales training course lasts two to three days, where salespeople learn how to effectively use their new skills and knowledge. But almost immediately after the training event, their knowledge and skills begin to fade. This is where sales training reinforcement steps in.
Sales Training Reinforcement Best Practices
Sales training reinforcement, if done correctly, will dramatically increase the effectiveness of your sales training and will shape the behavior of your reps. There will be fewer people saying “I forgot” and more quotas being met. Here are a few of the best practices for sales training reinforcement.
1. Make Training Reinforcement a Part of Your Learning Culture
We touched on this earlier in the article but it’s important to understand that if you implement a training reinforcement solution, it should become an integral part of your learning culture and not an additional resource.
At Mindmarker, we’ve seen organizations who do and do not create a culture around reinforcement. For those that do, training engagement is higher, knowledge retention is higher, and training ROI has increased. How?
- By creating a learning environment for application
- Making managers responsible for reinforcement results
- Gathering data/analytics and discussing progress during meetings
- Creating feedback loops with upper management and HR
- Making reinforcement progress visible and encouraging engagement in the program
2. Follow Up Personally with Those Who Are Struggling
Many organizations will already have a sales coaching plan in place, but we believe there is easier way to coach, and it often takes up less of your time.
Use the data and analytics available to you during reinforcement, to create a coaching plan. You should begin to follow up with those that are struggling with the training reinforcement content as soon as the data begins to show problem areas.
How are they answering reinforcement questions? What is their progress in the sales training reinforcement program and what should you touch on in your one-on-one coaching?
Don’t wait until the reinforcement program has concluded to begin following up on a more personal level. Use the data gathered early in the program to intervene when necessary.
Another great tactic you can use is to hold peer meetings, where your participants can actively learn from one another. (This uses the 70:20:10 development model)
3. Make Your Sales Training Reinforcement Program Mobile
Mobile is the future; we can’t avoid it. Your sales team is constantly out in the field or on the phone. There are a plethora of devices that can be used in the sales process, like mobile phones, tablets, netbooks, and laptops. Why not use these devices to your advantage.
Your sales training reinforcement program should be available to your reps no matter where they are in the field. This helps increase your program engagement and makes sure your sales reps are getting reinforcement content at the right time.
(Mindmarker feature: Mobile Training Reinforcement)
Reinforcement will then become a part of their weekly routine and your company’s overall learning culture.
Get Direct Management Involved in the Reinforcement Process
Getting direct managers involved in the process will increase the results you see in a reinforcement program. Managers should not only be informed of the program, they should also play an active role in creating a learning culture around reinforcement.
Participants aren’t the only ones who should be reinforced: direct manager should be reinforced too! Managers should change their coaching behaviors and begin using reinforcement information available.
Reinforcement programs are well thought and are designed to create the highest impact possible. Each stage in the program has a different goal and approach, so direct managers must understand these stages and treat each stage differently. (The three stages of each reinforcement program are: awareness, knowledge/skills, applying.)
(Related article: The 3 Reinforcement Stages)
For example: The awareness stage is important to create motivation for the reinforcement program. If the direct manager does not pay attention to this motivation, then the reinforcement program and management are not aligned.
Or when a participant is in the behavior phase and needs to apply a specific skill, the direct manager must know this specific assignment and create the environment, so that the participant can practice and reflect on their results.
Managers should align all of their actions to the reinforcement program and the progress of each participant. Here at Mindmarker, we create direct manager timelines that guarantee all actions taken achieve the highest effect possible.
Analytics should play a big role in what tasks and actions managers ask participants to do. Managers should use reinforcement data gathered during the program, create actionable intelligence, and create tasks based on observations and analysis.
Including reinforcement results in the official job responsibilities for direct managers can also help increase reinforcement results. Some of our clients and partners include these KPIs in their official job descriptions:
- Participation rates
- Completion rates
- Reinforcement score minimums (for teams)
- Completion of actions/tasks
Use a Training Reinforcement Solution with Analytics
Did you know that according to recent surveys, after sales training reinforcement, there is a 20% increase in reps that achieve sales quotas? But how are those organizations using training reinforcement solutions to increase their training results?
Training Reinforcement Analytics.
One of the most effective ways to reinforce training content, is to use a training reinforcement solution, such as Mindmarker. Mindmarker Training Reinforcement comes standard with an Reinforcement Analytics Tool that will help you create actionable intelligence from the data you gather during your training reinforcement program.
(Related post: What is Actionable Intelligence?)
Reinforcement analytics include everything from participant status reports to changes in behavior. It allows you to see who has viewed reinforcement content, who needs additional follow up, and how behavior is changing. You can then use this material to make organizational decisions for the future.