Why are 100% distance-sales training programs operating at peak efficiency?

nicolas caron Published by Nicolas Caron – 1 January 2021

If you’re interested in developing your skills, you NEED to read this book(1). You don’t have a choice—it’s a gold mine, a gem of a book that describes in detail how to truly develop skills effectively. It’s an incredibly insightful read that covers 30 years of research on the secrets that explain how the best got to where they are.

With an abundance of details and examples, the authors describe the five characteristics of training and practice that really work.  Let’s take a look at them together and then see how they dovetail with 100% distance-based sales training.

The five key characteristics of the most effective practice and training methods

Very specific goals

You can’t learn everything all at once. You have to learn how to target your efforts and focus your sessions on ”baby steps.”  The authors stress the importance of breaking down the overall goal into a series of intermediary goals that you can work on separately.

Maximum concentration

You can’t make progress when your mind is elsewhere! And, of course, your concentration level while practicing is relative to how specific a goal you have set in advance. You have a better chance of achieving a high level of concentration if you set a more specific goal. But concentration also depends on how long practice sessions last. Concentration is tiring and it’s unrealistic to think that you can stay focused for hours on end. The most productive training sessions last a limited amount of time, but with maximum concentration.

Consistently leaving your comfort zone

Progress comes with some growing pains—you have to dare to switch up your practices and do things differently. Effective training requires steadily increasing in difficulty and pushing ourselves to try things that we haven’t yet mastered and/or can do differently for greater effectiveness.

Personalized feedback

Quality feedback, especially personalized feedback, is crucial. Feedback is what stimulates us, reassures us, and encourages us to forge ahead or do things differently based on our resources.

Sustained motivation over the long term

Starting a training program is easy. What really matters is seeing it through to the end, making a long-term commitment. The author reminds us that the two main sources of motivation are feedback quality and measurable results. In this respect, the authors come to the same conclusion as Teresa Amabile, who, like them, notes that the more individuals visualize and measure the progress they have achieved, the more likely they are to continue their efforts.

The five characteristics of the most effective 100% DISTANCE- TRAINING PROGRAMS

Now let’s take a look at how the principles described by Anders Ericsson apply to the 100% distance-based programs that we offer to Halifax clients in France and internationally.

1. Very specific goals → Small “morsels”

A 100% distance-training program is spread over several days or even several weeks. That requires you to completely rethink how you teach, to ensure that the curriculum suits the entire course. It calls for small morsels of content. All the coursework is broken down into a series of small steps that steadily lead to subject mastery, both in the group sessions and individual coursework between sessions.

2. Maximum concentration → Shorter, denser, more frequent sessions

This is also an area where, by their very nature, 100% distance-programs require you to follow this approach. For example, our negotiation training program is broken down into a series of 15 sequences that alternate between group formats, individual learning and one-on-one work with the consultant. This enables learners to dedicate their full attention to each of the steps leading to the final goal.

3. Systematically leaving your comfort zone → Ongoing challenges applied to real-life situations!

Here again, 100% distance-training dovetails with the principles set forth by Anders Ericsson.  Why? Because he places value on individual work. You have less chance of skipping work between sessions when you know that you’ll be challenged by the consultant and/or by others during the group sessions.

What’s more, the format is the perfect fit for the flipped classroom teaching method, which involves providing content in advance so that everyone can work at their own pace before class, enabling them to tackle real-life situations with seasoned sparring partners during the sessions!

4. Personalized feedback → Multiple synchronous and asynchronous interactions with the consultant

100% distance-programs challenge learners individually while also allowing them to provide synchronous and asynchronous feedback and debriefing on all the participants’ work. This is definitely one of the aspects that learners appreciate the most.

5. Sustained motivation over the long term → Setting challenges and consolidating knowledge

This fifth criteria for effectiveness is also achieved and stimulated by personalized feedback from the consultant, as well as the final test for every course, which consolidates the mastery of this new knowledge and their newfound potential.

Confidently making the switch to a 100% distance-program

In sum, when well structured, 100% distance-based courses are effective:

  • Because they are backed by a series of specific goals
  • Because they allow for concentration over a shorter, but more intense timespan
  • Because they systematically push participants outside their comfort zone
  • Because they provide extensive personalized feedback and enable learners to visualize their progress

If you want to orchestrate all these elements, you need the right tools and resources, as well as experience with this type of program.

We’ve been using this approach for years at Halifax.

The lockdown has led many clients to ramp up the transition, and we are putting all our energy and resources into providing the best sales and management training for their teams.

If you would like to learn more and make the switch to 100% distance-based training, look no further.

Bibliography Peak (International Edition): Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool


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