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Hi, I am Dave Salter and you’ve landed on Connect and Convert, the podcast where we share insider secrets for small business success.
I’m joined today, as always, by Dennis Collins. And Dennis is our resident rockstar sales training expert. He’s been successfully training salespeople for about 153 years, and these folks consistently exceed their sales marks.
Dennis, good morning.
Dave, how are you today, man? I’m doing all right. It’s always good when we can spend a couple minutes together.
Well, unfortunately, today I’ve gotta start with some bad news for our small business owners. I hate to do it, but hey, you know that sales training you invested in for your team last week?
Great effort. Thank you for investing in your team and your sales training. Sometimes these things cost 50, 60, a hundred thousand dollars. Bad news, 90% of that was probably wasted, nine out of every $10 out the door.
Sorry about that, but it’s been forgotten.
That’s not a good sign, but you know, Dennis, I often forget what I have for breakfast. And I’m also guilty of when you walk into a room and you went in there to get something or chat with someone, and then you get there and you’re like, “Oh, crap. What did I come in here for?” So I’m glad we’re gonna talk a little bit today about Sam’s Training Day and the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve.
Give us, your brief thoughts on forgetfulness and as it pertains to training.
As it pertains to training, there’s a very good chance that any new training that you deliver will be 50% forgotten in the first 24 hours and 90% forgotten in the first week.
That’s not good, but I have a story. Okay? I have a story and this is something, a true story.
We’re gonna call this gentleman Sam. Dave, are you ready?
Sounds good. I can go with Sam. Alright. I can remember that.
Yeah, Sam is easy. That’s why I’m calling him Sam, cuz I forget too.
Sam was a young sales rookie, gung ho, but in spite of hearing all the negative stuff today about sales, his father had been a successful salesperson and he said, “You know what, I’m gonna do this.” So he joined a business that seemed to fit him.
He joined a business that believed in growing and training, especially rookies. Finally, dun-da, the first big training day. Okay, Sam’s all excited.
A six-hour in-person information-rich workshop featuring a well-known speaker, and a well-known trainer, had great content. The presentation was great. You couldn’t have asked for more.
Six hours of learning, discussing role plays, reflection at the end, after the after-session cocktail party, all attendees said, “You know, that was really a good session.”
Sounds good, huh Dave?
Sounds great. Dennis, I know I have been in those scenarios before, and you’re all charged up, you’ve received all this great information. And then a week later, you’ve lost it, but most of the time it just doesn’t stick. So tell us a little bit about why that happens.
In this case, like so many other training cases, the question that I would ask is, great idea, great training. What happened after the training?
Maybe some learners remembered some of the material. Maybe they gave it a try. If you’re really lucky, some of them may have actually internalized some of the things they heard and tried to install it in their day-to-day activity, but most probably group fell victim to what we call the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. Herman Ebbinghaus. He proved that we forget 50% of new information within 24 hours of learning it and 90% of new information within one week.
Not good, especially, Dave, when you consider the wasted costs, they say that in the United States, $70 billion is spent per year on training – $70 billion with a B, with a B.
Let’s say 90% of that is gone within a week. By my quick mathematical calculations, that’s over 60 billion wasted training dollars.
Let’s bring it home. If you have a training budget of a hundred thousand, 150, 200,000, whatever it is, times 90 percent, that’s going out the door.
Wow. That’s going out the door? That’s pretty scary.
I was running radio stations and it should scare any small business owner that an investment that large is being wasted. Most of it is gone.
So Dennis tell me about how there’s a couple ways that things get lost. And you can talk about that a little bit, but the other question is whose responsibility is it to reinforce that training?
Once you’re done with this six-hour seminar, you go home or you go back to the office, whose job is it to reinforce that?
That’s a great question. I have several thoughts about that.
Generally speaking, it’s the business owner’s responsibility. Most sales trainers today that I used to hire, don’t have a training component. I think they should have a practice component. I think they should, but they don’t. But let’s go over a couple of ideas.
I have a little saying that someone taught me years ago that I like to use. Knowledge without action is just entertainment. So if you wanna entertain your troops, not build skills, do traditional training, the one-off seminar, the workshop, fine. Be selective about the training that you invest in.
By that, is it customizable? Can it be custom and relevant to your situation, your specific business? People remember things longer that are more relevant to their situation. Generic training, not so much. That’s the 90% that’s forgotten.
How do you understand the value of spaced repetition and what is spaced repetition? It’s been proven that if you take a piece of information that is learned on day one and repeat it on day two or three and then repeat it three or four days later, and then repeat it a week later, and then two weeks later, spaced repetition.
But how many sales training programs have a space repetition module built-in? None that I ever bought. I had to do it myself. Once I was victimized by the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, I had to establish the spaced repetition so it was my responsibility. Are there built-in modules for practice or is it just a one-off? Is it a lecture? A seminar and then it’s over.
Are you willing and able to host at least one, and ideally two, practice sessions every week? Commit to a practice session based on the training? Do you have a manager-level person who’s overseeing, and providing constant feedback on your sales process and your training? I find that in a lot of small businesses, it’s a DIY by the owner acting as founder, owner, and sales manager.
So that often won’t work because they’re not an expert in sales training. They’re an expert at making the widget that they’re trying to sell or whatever, and the sales part of it’s not their area of expertise.
It almost never works. And I give, a founder-owner full of them and vigor and excitement for their business “I can do this, I can do this.” Yeah. Not so much. I have found that they can’t do it, mostly can’t and shouldn’t. So there needs to be someone overseeing the sales operation who can provide direction, feedback, practice correction, and hopefully build skills.
Dennis, it’s one of the things you and I have talked about previously, and I think this is your most important bullet point on this is something you talk about is installation. Can you elaborate a little bit about installation and why that’s important to this process?
Installation is where the rubber meets the road. It would be like a computer program. Dave, if you bought a new software program for your computer that’s gonna make your life easier, make your job easier, and you put it on your desk and you never install it into the computer, what good does that do to you?
I say the same is true for sales training. We need to have a new thought process about sales training. Yes, the training event is critical. I’m not saying skip those but follow up with installation.
I’m gonna refer our listeners, our viewers, to another one of our podcasts. It’s all about practice. Practicing With a Purpose is the title, and rather than spend the time here talking about the installation process, I would refer you to that podcast, and in that, we will get very detailed about how to install a training program.
That sounds great, Dennis. I appreciate that and I look forward to going through that episode as well. So summarize for us, if you will, Sam’s training day and maybe we will maybe we’ll finish up here.
Okay. Sam’s training day started off great. Sam was excited, but unfortunately, Sam and his colleagues were not trained properly because there was no installation. There was no follow-up.
When you’re going to do transformational training programs, there are two types of training. There’s educational and transformational, okay? Some training is just to educate someone on something like a technique or something.
However transformational is a behavior-changing type of training. If you’re going to do transformational training, you have to have an installation process. And the installation as we will discuss in our practice podcast has many steps that need to be followed.
You can defeat the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. It is not inevitable. Hermann gave us some very good ideas about how to defeat it, and that’s coming up in a future podcast.
That’s good because just listening to you, I just remembered that I had two eggs, Sunny side up this morning on toast with some tea, and I’m ready to go.
So Dennis, thanks for your wisdom and insight today, folks. That wraps up another edition of Connect and Convert, the podcast that lets you behind the curtain with some insider strategies for small business sales success. This is Dave Salter with Dennis Collins.