Do you ever stop and think about the challenges you face in making sales training impactful? As the training manager, not only do you need to deliver relevant information to your sales team, you need to make sure the information is retained and applied. This needs to be accomplished as you go against the grain of "another training session" and "justifying the budget" to others in the company.

The pressure to perform is on.

I have good news for you. There are 10 steps that will help maximize your sales training while keeping the sales reps and budget master happy.


North American companies spend an estimated $140 billion annually on corporate training, yet 90% of new skills are lost within a year.

Ok, maybe that fact is not so fun from a ROI perspective. Thankfully, this ROI can be improved when applying these 10 steps to your training repertoire.

Keep this formula in mind: Initial Learning - Learning Loss = Retention


As learning managers, the goal is to increase initial learning through motivation, active learning, and engagement. At the same time, learning loss can be limited by applying the learning experience to skills and knowledge with the long-term in mind.

In June 2015, Dr. Nicole Wilson shared her knowledge about corporate training on and was gracious enough to allow me to share it with you.

Who is Dr. Nicole Wilson you ask?

Dr. Wilson is the founder and president of KnowProgress, a consulting firm serving learning organizations in their quest to create powerful and effective learning experiences. She has a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has taught there as a faculty member for nine years.

In other words, she knows her stuff when it comes to learning and training.

Let's dive into the 10 steps so you can begin to maximize your sales training. There is a lot of information to cover so we will discuss steps 1 through 4 in part one of this series. Steps 5 through 10 will be discussed in part two of the series.

1. Get Nature on Your Side

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs explains that if the basic physiological needs such as air, water, food, sleep, etc. are not met, we may feel sickness, irritation, pain, or discomfort.

Just as your teachers in school always told you before a test, it is important to get a good night's sleep and have a healthy breakfast before you begin training. It would not hurt for your students to do the same thing as well.

Prepare yourself physically and emotionally before you begin training.

2. Make Training Narrative

If you want to keep listeners engaged, tell them a good story. Remember, this is not a fairy tale. If you are going to use narrative in your training, make sure it is genuine. Your learners will be able to see through an embellished story told merely to get your point across. That is a quick way to lose their attention and trust.

3. Make Training Relevant

While you are being genuine, make sure your narrative is relevant to the training. Sales reps are not interested in giving up their selling time to hear you brag about your vacation, then awkwardly force the story into sale training.

Use narratives in a relevant manner to tie new knowledge to existing knowledge.

Author and educational researcher, Robert Marzano explains that tapping into prior knowledge is the foundation that new knowledge is built on. While building on prior knowledge, make sure the information is at the right difficulty level.

Giving information that is too difficult or too easy will cause learners to disengage in the training.

4. Make Training Multimodal and Interactive

Let's face it, some sales reps would never go to a training if it was not required. When trying to reach the disconnected learner, you need to be creative.

You begin with steps 1-3 but still see a few blank stares. You are physically and emotionally prepared, you use great narrative stories, and your teaching is relevant. Step 4 might be the one that captures the attention of the critical learner.

Making your training multimodal will help you teach to the various learning styles. In addition to reaching multiple learning styles, making your teaching interactive will keep your learners engaged.

Whether you use questioning, small group discussions, or have learners move around the room, interactive learning keeps the students' attention and makes the training a little more fun.


You do not need to wait for part two of this series to begin applying steps 1 through 4. Training managers are encouraged to apply the knowledge learned in this article in the next sales rep training.

As with all learning, it may take a little practice to hone your teaching skills in a new direction. Be patient and look for part two of this series to further maximize your sales training.

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