Online Entertainment or Enablement? Why your virtual Sales Training program will fail.

Training your team now is a good thing – but… you’re leaving 90% of the content unlearnt.

Many training organisations have rushed to get their training ‘online’ to help those preferring to work at home and make the most of the ZOOMification of the WFH environment.

In their rush to get to market, most are missing a couple of key points. Key points that impact the ability of the training to actually work. If the training doesn’t work, it’s nothing more than entertainment. Is the training program you’re about to launch a true enablement program?

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The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve.

The German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus’s study from 1885, determined that we forget more than we retain after 24hrs of our training session.

No matter how ‘fancy’ the content is or how ‘good’ the presenter is you WILL lose more than 60% of what you’re taught by tomorrow.

Q: If we know this, why do we train so much content in one go?

A: Because it suits the trainer and or the HR/ L&D department.

Incremental learning is how you beat the forgetting curve. Learn just a small piece of content at each delivery and then go and place that into action. Reflect, win, learn and change.

Spending time on training is good. Yet, training simply for convenience rarely works and you’re very likely to have to train the same thing again and again, and again. Meaning that you’re spending valuable resources and time to achieve the same non-effect.

Online training and sales enablement platforms must be much more than simply a recording or ‘live stream’ of a training session delivered via a VC. Regardless if it is live or pre-recorded, whether it’s designed specifically for you or is a generic program.

Don’t be dazzled by the production quality.

I’d say tread cautiously.


For real training to take effect we are talking about helping reps make a change to their selling behaviour.

Behaviour change if very difficult and does not take place the same way for all people. Ask anyone who has given up smoking, alcohol, drugs, tried to lose weight or tried to exercise ‘a little more’.

It takes repeated efforts, lots of support and coaching. A video conference session or even those that ask for immediate reflection such as ‘select A, B or C’ at the end of a slide show will not create lasting change. This is simply an immediate memory check, not true sales enablement.

A good training program must have a coaching element. Watching a 4hr presentation and then expecting significant change across your team is folly.

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The science is clear people learn through doing.

This is how all real skills are taught, from nursing to carpentry, pilots, anywhere where real skill uplift is required. Imagine learning to drive by watching a 4hr live stream and then saying “Off you go. Good luck”. You would not do that to your teenager, would you?

The well renowned 70:20:10 learning principle outlines that 70% of the learning should be activity/ experiential actually doing it20% comes from the discussion you have as a team or small group about how and why these skills will or won’t work for you in your specific situation contextualization and the 10% is the training content itself. The VC, the video the webinar content or the book.

Some ‘trainers, speakers or presenters’ whilst they have good content or are engaging to watch, fail to get the skills into the hands of the trainee in a way that is supported and actually creates a measurable change. The reason you’re training – right?

When your team members are enabled to help each other make the transition, they provide support and context as part of the learning, this is called Peer-To-Peer learning. It is another way we can start to embed the skills so they can be recalled as and when they need them. This method also impacts those who are slower or more reluctant to learn and change. This is the persuasive power of social proof in the ‘classroom’.

If you need to make real, lasting change in your team, such as a digital sales transformation program, changing selling styles or improving selling skills you probably want the team to be ‘doing’ things differently on completion of the program. Having an enablement program that has these elements at its core is the only way to take the majority of the learners with you.

Unfortunately, there is no ‘quick-fix’.

Fortunately, there are platforms that exist that are designed to drip feed training content in a way which supports incremental change, promotes peer to peer learning and sidesteps the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve.

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Training this way makes training an ‘everyday’ part of their professional development and not an event. While trainers and enablers who crave the spotlight or who are very good at telling stories like to be hired time and time again. The reality is if they don’t have a plan to help your team be ENABLED to change, it’s just entertainment.

An ENTERTAINMENT program is not an ENABLEMENT program. Spend wisely.

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