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The Learning Hug Part III: Sustaining Learning

It is impossible to apply knowledge that you can’t remember. That’s why Richardson Sales Performance works with clients to develop a robust sustainment element to their training programmes.

It’s all part of what I like to call the learning hug: wrapping services and support around training to make it stick. Part I of this series, Training Services Wrap Around and Support Learning, explains the concept. Part II, Preparing for Change, addresses ways to prepare both the organisation and its learners for what is to come.

This post focuses on the post-training period and the tools, practices and assets that need to be in place to reinforce learning and embed new behaviours into “the way we do things here.” We need to help people retain the knowledge they have gained, apply it in real life, and receive evidence-based feedback and coaching to continuously improve.

The first thing to acknowledge is that learning is a process, not an event. What neuroscience tells us is that it’s not the learning itself that embeds knowledge in the brain, it’s recalling that learning that does the trick. You actually have to make yourself go back, find it somewhere in your head, and bring it forward – and then the learning clicks.

Sustaining Learning on the Go

Mobile technology makes it possible to reinforce learning on the go with social learning and gamification programmes. Bite-sized bits of learning are reinforced on a daily basis, with an element of competition as sales professionals compete with peers as they learn. On-demand modules provide another tool to revisit past learning, and these are searchable and always available. Analytics on the individual and group level inform managers of progress and notify them when and where coaching interventions are needed.

Sustaining Learning Through Coaching

Knowing how quickly learning can be lost if sales professionals do not immediately apply their new skills and knowledge, the most important element to help sustain the learning beyond training sessions is coaching. However, managers often have difficulty finding the time to focus on high-quality coaching. Therefore, we can provide them with a toolkit that includes such elements as a reinforcement meeting module, high-impact coaching questions, coaching planners and action plans.

Another tool we provide that helps managers to coach effectively is a digital behavioural scorecard that provides a way to observe salespeople during calls or meetings and easily record whether or not they display the fundamental selling skills effectively. This provides the basis for high-quality, evidence-based coaching, feedback and developmental planning. Finally, some managers also find it helpful to receive coaching themselves from our expert coaches, either in person or via video or teleconference.

Sustaining Learning Through CRMs

Lastly, most sales organisations use some type of client relationship management (CRM) system to track accounts and opportunities through the pipeline. However, most organisations struggle with ensuring that the information in those systems is accurate, up-to-date and useful. While CRM systems are fantastic tools to monitor and measure sales activity and effectiveness, they are only as good as the information that is entered. It is essential to align the information captured in the CRM directly to the sales process stages, key activities and verifiable outcomes that were developed in the pre-training preparation phase. In essence, this wraps the preparation back around to ensuring sustainment. To drive adoption of the process and the system, we advise our clients on how to implement a governance structure, leadership discipline framework and communication strategy to keep everyone up and down the chain connected and focused.

At Richardson Sales Performance, we have 37 years of experience helping organisations improve their sales performance:

  • We know that learning is most effective when it is aligned with business goals and desired capabilities and is relevant in the business context.
  • We know that learning requires trying, re-directing and trying again – and it depends on remembering.
  • We know that learning is sustained when knowledge is applied – and it is amplified when coaches continue to refine skills on the job.
  • We know that learning is best supported when measurement informs and motivates the learning, supports coaching and demonstrates business outcomes.

There’s a lot more to sales training than sending sales professionals to workshops or enrolling them in an online course. It takes a whole bunch of services wrapped around the training, before and after. It takes the Richardson Sales Performance Learning Hug to make sure all the pieces are in place.

About the Author

Eileen Krantz is currently the Vice President of Consulting & Measurement at Richardson, a leading global sales performance solutions provider. She is responsible for helping Richardson’s clients improve their business by applying appropriate consulting solutions and leveraging data and analytics. Richardson utilizes a variety of technologies and methods to assess a sales organization’s ability to deliver against a client’s market promise and to recommend business-relevant solutions designed to impact near- and long-term business objectives.

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