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The Key to Knowledge Retention in Sales Training

It is no surprise that we forget what we learn almost instantly. Through formalized training reinforcement, learning doesn’t have to stop when class is adjourned.

Knowledge retention drops off steeply after formal training has ended. We have all seen some version of this statistic, and we have all felt this drop at different times throughout our learning ‘careers.’ But how bad is it really?


As you can see above, Sales Performance International puts the average percentage of knowledge lost after 5 weeks following a training event at 50%, rising to 84% after just 90 days. According to these same numbers, we remember only 1 in 10 bits of sales know-how after 6 months time. Truly sobering statistics, and enough to make any sales training professional cringe. But these statistics tell only part of the story.

Formalized Training Reinforcement Works.

The key to retaining what we have learned in sales training is periodic reinforcement after formal training has ended. In fact, citing the same Sales Performance International report, we see that by regularly reinforcing information, retention rates can rise as much as 90%.

At Nuvue Business Solutions, we call this concept “learning that never stops.” Other sales training companies have different names for it. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, what matters is that your company is doing it.

Examples of Training Reinforcement.

While certainly not exhaustive, below is a list of some of the most popular types of training reinforcement out there:

  1. Coaching Sessions. It’s hard to beat time set aside each week with a subject matter expert that can provide a sales rep with needed concept and skill reinforcement. And reps don’t need to be pulled from the field, as coaching can happen via phone, email, and video calls.
  2. Scheduled eLearning. We tend not to recommend pure on-demand eLearning options as reinforcement is not something we want to leave to the whims of a busy sales schedule. Rather, it’s oftentimes best to offer a number of modules that can be reviewed within a given period of time, usually within a week or two at the most.
  3. Sales Scenarios. Reviewing a scenario or two during an already-scheduled, weekly one-on-one with a sales rep can be a time-saving way of reinforcing skills and offering constructive criticism.
  4. Automated Learning Refreshers via SMS/Email. Reinforcement needn’t soak up a sales manager’s time and energy. Automated learning refreshers can be crafted and delivered via text or email prior to key sales calls, or when a rep will be in transit between sales calls.

We all forget sometimes, and as it turns out, we forget most of what we learned in the classroom within weeks of walking out the door. But with a little training reinforcement that can follow us into the field, knowledge can be retained and we can reap the corresponding sales performance increases well into the future.

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