By Bruce Lewolt
CEO - BrainX
Are you introducing new selling methods and strategies to your sales team in a webinar live seminar or Learning Management System and then expecting employees to master the skills by practicing on your valuable customers instead of at the office? Does this method result in annoyed clients, wasted opportunities, and lost business? Most every sales training program fails because it is missing a key element: memory reactivation.
Memory reactivation is the repetitive process of engaging the brain in a way that allows for long-term information storage. The basis of this technique uses strategic questions to reinforce learning. Research shows that learners who answer guided questions dramatically outperform learners who simply reread information. For example, it is more effective for a salesperson to watch a video one time and answer questions on several succeeding days than merely re-watching the video the same number of days.
This concept is supported by that study that compared two groups of learners. Both groups were taught the same lesson and could equally recall the same information (80%) immediately after the lesson was complete. However, one group received memory reactivation training over several days following the lesson. This group participated in three, 15 minute memory reactivation sessions, which resulted in 95% material recall after two weeks.
The other group did not receive any memory reactivation training. Their memory recall after two weeks was just 28%.
In a larger study of the BrainX system, which offers personalized memory reactivation vs. an LMS which uses a one size fits all approach, 1000 salespeople where split into two groups. The group that used the LMS took the posttest experience a 75% fail rate because they had forgotten most of what they learned during the course. However, when the BrainX group took the test, 78% passed with the remaining members only missing by a few points.
Studies on effective reactivation shows that the typical multiple choice study question format employed by Learning Management Systems are not the best technique for building strong memories. These types of questions produce false associations with material that has yet to be mastered. A better approach uses short answer/fill-in-the-blank style questions. This technique exercises the brain more effectively.
The other important ingredient to reactivation is personalized feedback. Sales training that incudes group role playing exercises where individuals don’t get personalized feedback is not nearly as effective as individualized role playing exercises with feedback.
The other problem with group role playing is that management thinks everyone has mastered the skills because a few top performers dominate the game. This lack of mastery by the rest of the team means that they end up getting the additional practice they need by practicing on your valuable customers.
The biggest take away from understanding the process the brain uses to grow mastery is to stop wasting money on training that doesn’t include a robust memory reactivation system. Also, insist on reporting that allows management to track the improvements in individual competencies and compare these to increases in performance. This provides powerful information that can be used to further enhance training.