Sales training is a challenging, yet rewarding career. There are many resources to help improve your skills as you teach in an effective and efficient manner. In this article, I want to cover a few items that may help make your job as a learning professional a little easier.

4 Things to Remember

Here are the first four principles discussed in part one.

  1. Get Nature on Your Side
  2. Make Your Training Narrative
  3. Make Your Training Relevant
  4. Make Your Training Multimodal and Interactive

Let's continue the journey into maximizing sales training as we explore steps 5 through 10 to help you become the best training manager you can be.

Make Training Applied: Project and Problem-Based Learning

Project and problem-based learning should have a few key objectives. Learners master content and skills in the context of solving a carefully crafted real-world problem.

Teams work together to define and solve smaller challenges, with facilitator's help Learning activities stretch over longer periods of time Challenges culminate with authentic products (project-based) or authentic solutions (problem-based).

Project-based example: A team of 3-4 sales reps evaluate the current tools available to sales reps. From there, the team designs a product to give sales reps the leading edge over competitors when selling. This needs to be a feasible product the company would purchase.

Problem-based example: A team of 3-4 sales reps work together to review current sales training methods and how the training is applied. Next, they will come up with ideas to improve the way training is conducted and help facilitate sales reps to apply the training.

Make Training Active

Step 6 is the application of step 4. Learners should be encouraged to ask "why" during training.Asking "why" gives the learner the opportunity to connect what they learn with their prior knowledge. Powerful questioning helps make sense of what was taught.
This can be done through a Q&A time or simply by writing a question on an index card to give the facilitator during breaks. The facilitator can answer a few questions the first five minutes after the break.
Other ways to make training active is to have learners move around the room during training or to find a different seat after each break. Be sure to add experiments, games, and challenges to the training.

Make Training Social

One of the great qualities of successful sales reps is their ability to socialize. If you make training social, you speak their language. Examples of social training include role playing, discussions, and debates. Keeping the socializing on task can be a challenge. Remember, one of the great qualities of successful sales reps is their ability to socialize.

Make Training "Searchable" with an Outline

Aristotle noted three tips for delivering a successful speech:
1. Tell them what you will tell them
2. Tell them
3. Tell them what you just told them
I am confident that in his great wisdom, Aristotle would say to apply these three tips when training sales reps as well. An outline is a great resource sales reps can use to spark their memory when the formal training has ended.
Your training outline should begin with the main objective (tell them what you will tell them). The bulk of the outline will be a standard bulleted list (tell them) and will be followed with a reiteration of the material (tell them what you just told them). This successful format has been around for 2,500 years. Might as well put it to use during sales training.

Practice Testing

This step will cause more groans and eye rolls among sales reps than any other step. Be strong and understand that this is a critical step in the learning process. Testing increases memory as connections are made during the memory retrieval process.
Practice testing can be simple, such as sharing what you learned with a neighbor, or an exit slip (write three things you learned today on an index card). Training managers can follow up a week later with an email or online post to check for retention.
Re-activate Training: Distributed, Interleaved Practice Over Time
Learning does not stop merely because the training session ended. It is imperative to re-activate what was learned so the information can be applied.
Distributed practice (aka Spaced Learning) is essentially spreading out the learning in multiple shorter training sessions instead of one long easy-to-forget training marathon.
Interleaved practice is simply mixing up what is taught. Instead of learning all of "A" then all of "B", teach a little "A", a little "B", the rest of "A", then the rest of "B".

NOW IT IS YOUR TURN

This is a lot of information to digest. Do not feel that you need to implement all these tips at once. Take what you have learned and add it to your training one step at a time. Although you are in charge of the learning department, you are a student at the same time. Never stop learning and always look for ways to be the best you can be in all areas of life.

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