Business Synthesis ForgettingCurve

Better Sales Performance? Be aware of the Forgetting Curve!

Imagine, you want to bring your sales team to a better sales performance level. You prepare a comprehensive two-day sales enablement program, in a stimulating, fancy remote location, away from the office. Well-known subject-matter experts will come along to share their insights and expertise to improve your sales team’s performance. The weeks of preparation result in stellar presentations, discussions, exercises, and more. Everything went perfectly, and everyone agrees the training was a huge success. Moreover, you feel comfortable that the effort, time and money invested in the program will pay out in a better performance of your sales team.

The Forgetting Curve

After a couple of weeks, you talk with some of the employees that participated in the two-day training. They share with you the great time they had. However, when you ask them what they remember as the key learning, and what they do now differently to achieve a better performance in sales, they remain, more or less speechless. Back in your office, you go over the recent sales reports and notice that in the first weeks the sales team performed better. However, now they are just slightly above the level before the training. You are frustrated that time and money invested in the enablement is not paying out.

All of this happened because you were not aware of the “Forgetting Curve“! Research, performed since the 1880’s, shows that within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50% of the information you present. Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70% of the new information, and after a week, people disremember an average of 90%. Some people remember more; some people remember less. However in general, people forget most of the training after one week, and that is the dirty secret of many training consultants! No matter how much you invest in training and development,  after one week your employees will forget nearly everything.  All of your hard work and money just bleeds away.

Better Sales Performance 2.0

Your sales training did indeed go well, and you deserve credit for it. Nevertheless, when you go back to your office, you cannot afford to relish in your success. Because, although the training went well, the ideas and learnings are quickly and quietly evaporating.

However there is good news, and there is hope: change your training strategy!  Leave the full two-day off-site training aside, and move toward an education parsed into smaller practical topics with a lot of repetition, delivered over a much more extended period (up to a year). This strategy gives you a couple of benefits:

  1. There is no information overload. During the regular two-day training your brain must process a large number of propositions, insights, viewpoints and other information. That makes impossible to grasp and internalize all the learnings.
  2. Reinforce small learnings. Throughout an extended training period, there are many training times. During each of such training moment, there is the occasion to renew items from earlier sessions. You restart the Forgetting Curve again. However, the result is that your employees will remember more.
  3. No time away from clients. Because of the nature of a two-day off-site sales training, the sales employees cannot spend their time with clients. Parsing the learnings into smaller segments makes it possible to process these learnings during a downtime. It also prevents the sales tend to run out that training to answer an urgent question of their most important client. By parsing the course into smaller segments, these segments are less prone to interruptions.

Online Sales Enablement

When you furthermore leverage an online sales enablement platform, you will experience more advantages:

  1. Prevent hotel, accommodation and travel cost. The smaller course segments and the usage of the online enablement platform do not require the trainees to travel and stay away from the office and home.
  2. Reinforcement tailormade to the sales professional. The online environment makes it possible present the essential exercises materials many times without additional effort. Each time the employee completes the exercise correctly, he gets access to the next scheduled training.
  3. Anytime Anyplace. With the online sales enablement platform, the employees can access the training materials at a time and location that is most convenient for them. From his couch, the train, or another place, the sales professional can take the courses at her (or his) convenience.
  4. Monitor course progress. When you want to improve the sales performance of your team, you need to know how well everyone is doing and progressing through the training. With the online sales enablement platform, you can monitor the progress of every sales professional! If necessary, you can spur an employee who is lagging and compliment the proficient professional.

Many scientific studies since the early 1900s prove that frequent reinforcing desired behavior results in the internalization of such behavior. Frequent reinforcing implies that change does not happen overnight and that it requires many events over a more extended period to be effective.
To improve the sales performance of your team, you must address them with a training strategy that builds on reinforcement of small steps!