Have you ever spent several thousand dollars (and then some) on training only to see no change or short-term boosts at best? If your sales training is striking out, it’s probably due to a lack of prep and follow-up. There are ways to achieve long-term positive changes through training but you’ve got to know what you’re signing up for and consider some clear-cut strategies.

For starters, different types of training accomplish different goals. Over the years we’ve been hired by clients for one-hour kick-off motivational keynotes, three-day intensive sales process training and everything in between. We’ve learned a few things along the way including – sales training conducted as an “event” simply doesn’t work.

If your goal is to transform your organization so that it’s achieving goals like increasing sales or increasing profit margin, the training itself is only 10% of the overall process. To make your training investment stick, consider the following before you spend valuable dollars.

You Need an Implementation Plan. Start your transformation with the end in mind. What metrics will be used to measure the success of the salespeople, manager and related team member(s)? Will leadership hold them accountable for achieving these goals? For example, to achieve 10% growth in revenue you’ve calculated that each salesperson needs to meet with one additional qualified prospect per day. The skill being developed is new business development. How will you hold each person accountable for that number? The measure of success could be an email the salesperson sends to the customer that summarizes their meeting. This is an auditable measure that a manager and a manager’s manager can use. The email not only provides quantitative measurement, but the leaders, and even the CEO, can review the email and see the quality of customer interactions. How well was the new skill captured in the follow-up e-mail? Does this contact meet the defined metric of adding one new qualified prospect per day?

Have a Strategy to Reinforce and Coach Learned Skills.

Sales skills that are enhanced or gained in a training session are 80% forgotten after the first 30 days. Why? When not practiced or measured with a 3rd party, there’s often little to no change in behavior. The formula for reinforcement is: a) apply the learned skill b) share results with the coach and then c) reinforce the behavior. For coaching, first get attendees to apply new skills in the field. This could be verbal or written sales skills – but only introduce one skill at a time. Then it’s time to coach. Ask specific questions about the desired outcome. For the example above, did the salesperson meet (or converse) with one new, qualified prospect a day? Frame questions that help them understand what went well and where correction needs to happen. Next, ask them how they can improve their results. Effective coaches help people find their own answers. Finally, ask what would happen if the next time they tried … and then insert a specific recommendation. Reviewing a video of someone good at executing a skill is a way to fine-tune a new sales method. Rehearsing a future conversation with a recording is also a good practice.

When changes are reinforced, salespeople will remember how inspired and motivated they were at training. And with effective measuring, they’ll know these skills and behaviors will be recognized.