CEB Blogs


Sales & Service

Don’t Leave Skill Application to Chance

New hire trainingDespite running a world-class sales training event, getting salespeople to apply new skills is hard. In fact, SEC analysis has found that reps forget 87% of the information they are taught within one month of training. A key reason for this—traditional training programs fall short because they do not provide reps with fail-safe opportunities to practice and embed new skills into their daily workflow.

To solve this issue, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan created a 12-week program that occurs after the traditional classroom training, and combines live-fire skill application with customers followed by peer deconstruction of the skill application. Reps, along with their managers, choose 1-2 low risk customers to try the new skill on throughout the 12-week period. After applying the skill, reps get together to share application stories, helping socialize the new behaviors and learning from their peers.

Typically, reps are required to share at least one positive and one negative experience, give a detailed account of the customer reactions with quantifiable outcomes. Doing this in a group setting amongst their fellow peers provides reps with several benefits and learning opportunities that include:

  • Reflection: Gives reps time to absorb key learnings in a low pressure environment
  • Exploration: Risk-free environment builds confidence in reps to try new skills
  • Validation: Group perspectives and comments help reinforce successes
  • Context: Reps can tie the application of a single skill into broader training concepts

After piloting the program with new hires, BCBS has seen 39% of those new hires performing in the top half of sales reps company-wide within 12 months— and 21% are in the top quintile.

SEC Members, to learn more, listen to a webinar with Peter Long, Sales Training Consultant at BCBS of Michigan, and read the full study Boosting Sales Training Stickiness.

Leave a Reply



Recommended For You

Retaining High Quality Sales Talent in Asia

Attraction and retention of quality sales talent is the single biggest priority for sales leaders...