October 12, 2018

Sales training seminars are fun, informative affairs for most salespeople. They leave the office for a while, meet sales experts, network with colleagues, and pick up some new skills. The problem with sales training seminars is one of retention: because of the Curve of Forgetting, the average person loses the majority of the information they learn within days, and it becomes even worse as time marches on.

Since you surely want your sales training seminars investments to have positive effects beyond a mere few weeks, it pays to solve this. One way to increase retention without breaking the bank is through online refresher training.

Better retention equals better ROI

What are the cold hard facts on retention? Well, source after source confirms that the forgetting curve is quite steep. After even one hour, most people forget about half of what they just studied, not in just sales training seminars. You can imagine what that figure drops to after a week and then again after one month. As the linked article points out, “… although corporations spend 60 billion dollars a year on training, this investment is like pumping gas into a car that has a hole in the tank. All your hard work simply drains away.”

So, is it even worth it to pay for sales training seminars then? Of course it is! The trick is to maximize retention by impressing the concepts into the mind with enough impact in the first place, making students apply the data so they connect with other experiences and memories, and repeating the information until it is prioritized by the mind’s recall and can be surfaced when needed.

“Repetition is the mother of all learning”

The number of times over the material equals certainty and results. When trainees repeat things learned at sales training seminars, their new neural pathways are strengthened and last longer. Repetition is literally a pattern, a rhythm. Our brains are wired to recognize patterns and rhythms and can recall these easier than disconnected data.

Repetition has wide applicability in selling. Take, for instance, the classic selling technique of getting minor yes’s before asking for the big yes (the close). By getting the buyer to say yes multiple times (“Can you hear me okay?” “Have you had time to review what I sent?” “You agree that this could help your business, right?” “Can I ask you a question?”), you establish a pattern of agreeing. This is more comfortable to continue than to break the rhythm with a “no.”

In the same vein, going online to re-hear the closing techniques, objection handlers, and other practical tips learned at sales training seminars forms patterns which are easily recalled as well. Therefore I always recommend either one-on-one coaching to repeat concepts learned, or online refresher courses. The latter have the advantage of 24/7 accessibility, so trainees can logon any time to restudy the material as needed. This reinforcement and repetition is necessary to instill new patterns of behavior – namely using effective sales techniques which lead to more closed deals.

Always budget for online refresher courses and other follow-up (webinars and coaching) when planning your sales training seminars.