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Do You Know What Ensures the Greatest Payoff from Sales Training Program Investments?

In a comprehensive survey of research and literature conducted more than 25 years ago, it was determined that there was a growing recognition of a “transfer problem” in corporate training and development.

Specifically, in 1990, research analysts estimated that while companies around the world spent approximately $50 billion on training and development, no more than 10% of those expenditures actually result in transfer to the job.

Fast forward 25 years later, and the emerging trends of research on training transfer continue to reflect similar evidence that is just as sobering. Even though global spend to improve corporate performance has doubled over the past 25 years to more than $100 billion, analysts now estimate that, on average , less than 50% of program content is transferred to the work environment immediately after training, less than about 20% is being used at the end of 30 days, and only 10% of expenditures for training ever result in observable behavior change on the job.

So what haven’t we learned… yet?

Given how important skilled salespeople must be for an organization to continually achieve desired business results, we need to understand how to resolve the 25+-year-old transfer problem and ensure the greatest payoff from our organization’s sales training program investment.

3 Roles that Make Training Effective

Researchers determined that there were three key roles acting to make training effective during three key time frames (creating nine combinations) which ultimately influence the transfer of training.

According to the research, organizations that achieve the greatest payoff from their sales training dollar are the ones whereby the trainee’s manager focuses on creating a receptive mind-set for the training event before it happens.

In fact, researchers determined that the priority of influence in the transfer of training is as follows in the matrix below:

Before Training EventDuring Training EventAfter Training Event
Trainee’s Manager183

1 – Greatest Impact       9 – Least Impact

The research found, a majority of respondents made a different choice, as well. That’s because, for the last 25+ years, a majority of companies tend to focus most of their efforts on the sales training content itself or post-training sustainment with minimal attention to what the salesperson’s manager and supporting leadership should be doing before the training. It is during this pre-training time frame that well conceived, meaningful, and leadership-sponsored communication and meeting plans are vital to get everyone onboard, aligned, and personally involved with the goals of the training.

Before salespeople step into a classroom, join a training webinar, or launch an e-learning course, they must genuinely welcome the training opportunity and be convinced that the training will directly improve their performance in a way that is relevant to both themselves and the larger organization. For maximum training transfer to occur, no one is in a better position to help salespeople want to learn, understand the value of the training, and uncover detrimental mindsets and other barriers before the training than the salesperson’s manager.

While the impact that a manager can have on a salesperson’s mindset prior to training is of paramount importance, it is only one of several key priorities that can contribute to the effective transfer and full performance back on the job. In fact, the training company and the salesperson are also accountable in distinct ways and at critical times for helping to ensure that the training investment generates the greatest possible value.

To learn more about how today’s best companies have dramatically improved training transfer and its positive impact on sales performance, stay tuned to a three-part series devoted to focusing on what must happen and by whom before, during and after a sales training program.

About the Author

Richardson Sales Performance is a global sales training and performance improvement company. Our goal is to transform every buyer experience by empowering sellers with critical skills so they can create value to buyers and drive meaningful conversations. Our methodology combines a market proven sales and coaching curriculum with an innovative and customizable approach to learning that ensures your sales teams learn, master, and apply those behaviors where and when it matters most — in front of your customers. It’s our job to anticipate change in your industry so that your sales team can focus on fostering long-term relationships, becoming indispensable partners for their buyers.