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Getting The Biggest Bang For Every Dollar You Spend On Sales Training


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According to research conducted by Huthwaite, 87% of what is learnt in a sales training session will be lost after 1 month upon completion of the training programme. That means 87% of what you spent on sales training went up in smoke, within 1 month!

While this statistics reflect sales training, such percentages is likely to be very similar to other forms of corporate training as well.

Other research has also shown that there is little or no correlation between training effectiveness and:
Ÿ The training evaluation that the trainees filled in immediately after the training; or
Ÿ The test results after the training (whether immediately or 1 month or 6 months later) to gauge whether the trainees remembered what was learnt.

Rather, whether your next training will generate positive or negative paybacks will depend on:
Ÿ Whether, before the training, you have set the targeted observable behavioural changes post-training;
Ÿ Whether there is a conducive environment to help trainees apply what was learnt; and
Ÿ Whether there are tracking systems in place to track if applying the learning points does indeed improve business results

Pre-Training Needs Analysis

Many companies have implemented some level of training needs analysis for their staff. However, most needs analysis are too general, and lack specific post-training behavioural changes. That means there are no indications on how the company would like to see better performance in the trainee after the training.

Without clear objectives prior to the training, it will be virtually impossible to measure training effectiveness afterwards.

Here are some ways that companies can determine what are some of their desired post-training behavioural changes with limited manpower and resources:
1. Evaluating performance appraisals. Most established companies have some level of performance appraisals for staff. Such reports usually provide clear indication of what improvements the staff need;
2. In-depth interviews with managers. Understand from managers’ point of view what their subordinates need to improve;
3. In-depth interviews with staff. NOT to ask staff what training they want, but what skills they need to help them do a better job.

Companies that are attempting to set targeted behavioural changes for the first may want to set small and easily achievable objectives to build confidence. There may be some behaviours that may not be easily changed with just a few training sessions, and companies have to be realistic when setting such objectives.

Building a Conducive Post-Training Environment

Most of the learning that is lost is not so much due to trainees forgetting what is learnt, but rather they encounter difficulties when applying what they learnt. When such difficulties are not resolved, the learning is lost.

Hence, to help build a conducive environment that encourages application of learning points, here are some suggestions:
Ÿ Provide some monitoring and coaching tools for managers to track trainees’ progress after the training;
Ÿ Provide managers with the right coaching skills and encouraging them to a portion of their time coaching their subordinates after the training; or
Ÿ Get the trainers to conduct post-training Q&A sessions. These are not necessary refreshers, but rather Q&A sessions to help trainees implement what they learnt

Measuring the Real Value of Training

The ultimate test of any training will be whether the learning points, when applied correctly, actually delivers better business results. These results can range from improving sales revenue to reducing costs to improving productivity or even optimize asset utilisation.

In the case of sales training, many companies are still using sales materials dating as early as 1925. When trainees applied what they learnt, but do not get the desired responses, these companies simply sent them back to the same training again.

Definition of insanity: Doing the same things over and over again and expect a different result.

Hence, when measuring the value of training companies have to:
Ÿ Monitor (either by internal staff or external consultants) whether the application of the learning points does give positive responses or results; and
Ÿ Make necessary changes to the training curricula if you get lower-than-expected results

A Better Tomorrow?

Does that mean that if companies are able to do the above-mentioned, it will have a very powerful and productive workforce?

Well, maybe.

A lot depends on whether companies are willing to face its own shortcomings squarely, and then not putting the blame on someone but rather take the necessary steps to improve those processes.

Directions Management Consulting will be providing advise and support to companies who are willing to take up such challenges to get better training effectiveness, and then build a formidable workforce thereafter.

For more information, please e-mail

c. j. is an Affiliate with HR Chally Group in China. Founded in 1973 through a grant from the U. S. Justice Department, the HR Chally Group provides predictive and compliant assessment system for management, sales, technical, customer care, and administrative talents. Unlike other assessment tools that just conducts personality profiles, Chally profiles what is exactly required by specific job descriptions and responsibilities and predict if these talents can succeed in these roles. The resulting effect is you'll get:

* Up to 40% reduction in turnover
* Up to 30% increase in employee productivity
* 85% accuracy in identifying effective performers

Prior to this, c. j. was Asia Marketing Manager for a Fortune 500 logistics company, as well as Corporate Training Manager for Ringier AG, Switzerland's largest media group, in China, where he was responsible for sales team development, and helped increase the % of new hires to close their 1st sales within 2 months by 30%, as well as increase overall sales targets by more than 50%. Visit for more info.


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