30 days.

That’s how little it can take a sales rep to forget their sales training.

With 52% of sales reps failing to make quota last year, that’s a problem.

But how can you improve the performance of your sales team when they don’t remember their training? How can sales reps excel at their respective roles if they’re not changing their behavior based on training events? And if training isn’t leading to tangible improvements in sales performance, what’s the point?

Ugh! It’s almost enough to make you want to throw in the towel. But don’t despair.

The good news is there is a way to effectively deliver sales training. And it’s based on the latest research in neuroscience.

Let's get a bit more specific...

The 4-Part Learning Model That Could Boost Sales Performance

So what is this learning model that promises to make learning stick?

It’s called AGES.

According to Dr. David Rock, Director and Co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, "the AGES model was first presented at the 2010 NeuroLeadership Summit, and then published in the 2010 NeuroLeadership Journal" and it’s " a useful pattern that summarizes the four biggest factors that determine the quality of recall. These are Attention, Generation, Emotion, and Spacing, or the AGES model."

In other words, Rock and his team developed an easy-to-remember model based on recent findings about memory formation and how the brain works to help maximize learning by more efficiently creating long-term memories.

Let’s take a closer look.

  • Attention: According to Rock et al., “For the hippocampus to activate sufficiently for learning to occur, the learner needs to be paying full attention to the topic being learned.” So, for effective learning to take place, people need to pay undivided attention to the task at hand. If attention is key to learning, the AGES model suggests we find ways to maximize attention.
  • Generation: With memory so key to learning, the question arises, “how do we maximize the likelihood of memories forming?” Contrary to popular belief, simple repetition is not the answer. A more effective method? According to one of Dr. Rock’s articles published in the NeuroLeadership Journal, “Both psychological and neuroscientific research show that the key to optimizing learning and building long-term memory is to create ‘ownership’ of learning content. This ownership or ‘generation of own learning’ occurs when an individual is motivated to understand, contextualize, retain, and apply knowledge in their own way.”
  • Emotion: According to the AGES model, emotion plays an important role in forming lasting memories, and hence effective learning and development. Emotional content grabs your attention which is key to learning. Dr. Rock says emotion also “leads to activation of a brain structure called the amygdala which sits directly in front of the hippocampus and can help to signal to the hippocampus that a particular event is salient, and, thus, increase the effectiveness of encoding.”
  • Spacing: There is a growing body of research suggesting that distributing learning over time is better than cramming learning into one intense session, or massing. According to Dr. Rock, “Spacing information over time leads to higher retrieval rates of new information and seems to build stronger long-term memory...In addition to the ‘active part’ of the learning, spacing allows the brain to further digest new content and over time build and wire new connections, even when learners are at rest.” You can learn more about taking a spaced learning approach here.
That’s the AGES learning model in a nutshell. So what?

Well here is the “so what” of it:

How the AGES Model Can Help Your Sales Force

So how can using the AGES model help your sales force?

According to Ray Makela, Managing Director at the Sales Readiness Group, many of your reps’ sales training activities are “a bit like the proverbial ‘drinking from a fire hose.’ They have a lot of information that's typically transmitted over a very short period of time, and they're expected to retain that and then go out in the field and apply it."

As we’ve already discussed, that approach doesn’t seem to be working.

The AGES model can help by:

  • serving as a template for designing more effective learning experiences.
  • increasing the effectiveness of learning allowing you to do more with the same training budget.
  • focusing your learning efforts on long-term memory--the real goal of organizational learning.

To get the desired change in sales rep behavior, we need reps to be able to recall information. AGES focuses on easy information retrieval by targeting the key variables to effective learning.

5 Ways AGES Will Make Your Sales Training Activities More Effective

We can talk theory all day, but developing real-world sales training ideas is where the rubber meets the road. Here are five suggestions on how to use the AGES model to improve sales performance.

  1. Make sure you have training participants’ attention. Eliminate distractions and ensure one focus during learning events. Use more novelty and change during learning experiences. In other words, mix things up and keep it fresh to avoid people getting bored and tuning out.
  2. Dr. Rock and other neuroscientists suggest increasing dopamine with relevant, valuable content. One way to do this is by making each learning situation is as real and personal as possible. Consider advanced simulations, role playing, and other tactics.
  3. Make learning content easy to digest. You can do this by using chunking, visuals, and engaging stories. Your goal? The learning experience should be the polar opposite of ‘drinking from a fire hose.’
  4. A study showed that repeated testing is superior to repeated studying in the formation of maximum long-term memory formation. Is there a way you can test your sales reps’ mastery of training concepts?
  5. Encourage generation of learning by training participants. When teaching new concepts, seek to build learner ownership rather than just presenting the information.

This research-based learning model could — no exaggeration — be the key to revamping your sales training efforts, if you simply take the effort required to help your reps make the most of their sales training.

What do you think about the AGES learning model? Join the conversation by tweeting @HireVueSales

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