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3 Strategies to Improve Long Term Retention in Sales Training

Guest: Mario M. Martinez, Jr., Founder and CEO of Vengreso

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About This Episode

Traditional sales training is dead forever.

And good riddance, honestly.

Welcome to virtual sales training, which is not just relevant for current events but also cognitively effective.

Recently on the Sales Engagement podcast, I had a great conversation with Mario M. Martinez, Jr., the Founder and CEO of Vengreso and host of the Modern Selling Podcast, about how he launched an all-virtual sales training program.

“When I started my company, I realized after 18 years of being in sales training that the way that we learned was not the way that training was actually happening,” Mario said.

Out of a 2-day training event, most of us remember only about 10% of it.

His sales training program has a 95% met, exceeded, or far exceeded customer expectation. (Plus, people actually remember what they learned.)

Here’s why virtual sales training is the future.

Traditional training is forgotten

Mario said that sales training programs that were 1 or 2 days long just flat didn’t work.

At a traditional all-day training:

  • 70% of B2B reps forget the information they learn within a week of training.
  • 87% forget what they learned within a month of training.

“When done right at a virtual sales training, 80% of the information is retained after 60 days of training,” Mario said.

Wow, that’s a huge difference.

“Traditional sales training sucks,” Mario said. “I sat in those rooms for 18 freaking years and I knew every single time I’d wake up the next morning and get right back to the same exact thing.”

The major difference isn’t the type or quality of the information that’s presented in a traditional versus a virtual sales training event.

It’s how the information is presented.

Humans just don’t do infodumps.

We need the information to be spread out.

The forgetting curve & 3 learning strategies

What’s the forgetting curve?

It comes from the research of a 19th-century psychologist called Herman Ebbinghaus.

If you don’t apply the information you learn, you just forget it.

  • 20 minutes after you hear something, you retain 58%
  • 1 hour after, retention is 44%
  • 9 hours after, 36% retention
  • 31 days after, 21% retention

“If you want to actually change someone’s behavior, you’d better put a program together that lasts at least 60 days,” Mario said

One more important fact about human cognition.

Short term human memory is limited to 7 items of information.

So if you are sitting through 500+ PowerPoint slides in 16 hours of training, you’ll probably remember…

No more than 7 items.

“COVID-19 was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to sales training, because it forced leaders to say, ‘Holy crap, I was doing it wrong to begin with,’” Mario said.

3 learning strategies

Mario researched strategies to improve our long term retention.

  1. The testing effect. If you’re tested in small increments frequently, you’ll retain a lot more than if you have one big test at the end.
  2. The spacing effect. If you spread your learning out over time (think the 15 weeks of a college semester), you’ll increase retention.
  3. The chunking effect. If you divide your learning objectives into smaller chunks, your brain will be able to categorize and recall them more efficiently.

Mario’s digital training module for social selling is divided into 6 phases (that’s less than 7, by the way).

The phases are spread out over 2 to 4 weeks each so that they’re spaced ideally for learning.

They’re delivered in tiny tidbits (videos of 1 to 2 minutes) that you can apply and practice instantly to fight against the learning curve.

And you have to pass a “unit” test before you can move on to the next phase… so that you have to frequently recall information over short intervals.

The programs are basically designed to capitalize on the way that human brains learn best.

The university model

The components of a university class are basically the same: textbook, lecture, application, testing, and office hours.

“Go back to the university model, tried, true, and proven. Every university system works the same way globally in terms of how to teach somebody,” Mario said.

The “textbook” and “lecture” are the on-demand learning videos that are lively and fun.

The videos guide you through application so that you can continue growing in that particular skill.

After a test, if you want more guidance, you can stop into the professor’s office hours for personal coaching. Reps in Mario’s program can get coaching if they want more clarity. 

“If you’re not doing this today, you’re going to be obsolete in less than 90 days,” Mario said.

Even though it will be safe to meet in person again someday, the change in sales training will be permanent. 

This blended learning process — all digital — is the most effective way to teach.

If that isn’t enough, Mario shared 7 things that virtual sales training can do that traditional can’t, doesn’t, or won’t.

  1. Gamification. Sales reps are highly competitive and love tracking their progress to get to the top.
  2. Chunking and spacing. Digital training is ideal for these cognitive strategies.
  3. Promoting deliberate practice. Some modules include live training and forum posting.
  4. Retention benefits. It’s custom-built to help you remember what you learn. 
  5. Video + audio simultaneously. This is so much more memorable than a textbook.
  6. Testing. When you test knowledge, you reinforce it.
  7. Personal coaching. Submit a question about something you learned and get a specific answer — months after the training..

“These are things that you simply just can’t get with traditional sales training,” Mario said. “I’ll go toe to toe with any CEO who tries to tell me otherwise.”

Get in touch with Mario on LinkedIn (and be sure to mention you heard him on Sales Engagement). Find out about Vengreso at the website.

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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