The Everboarding Advantage: Why Continuous Learning Is the Future of Sales Training and Development
This blog post originally appeared on the Training Industry website.
How much information do you remember from your onboarding? Probably not much. You likely gained most of your knowledge on the job. That’s not a bad thing — it’s a fact of life. According to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve theory, the average person will forget up to 98% of information within a month if it’s not reinforced.
Traditional onboarding runs counter to humans’ natural learning tendencies. In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, learning should be an ongoing process that fits into our busy lives. This is especially true for sales teams dealing with evolving products, shifting markets and dynamic customer preferences. Poorly trained sales reps hurt an organization’s bottom line with inefficient processes, difficulties connecting with prospects and challenges in closing deals.
In a survey of newly hired employees, only half said they were satisfied with their company’s onboarding process, and 80% who felt under-trained by onboarding plan to quit soon. Remote workers are even more likely to feel unsatisfied. These statistics should serve as a wake-up call.
It’s time to evolve the one-and-done onboarding approach and embrace everboarding.
What Is Everboarding?
Traditional onboarding typically follows a formal, one-size-fits-all formula with a beginning and end. Everboarding is dynamic and ongoing, supporting and educating employees throughout their tenure, not just the first 90 days. This continuous education is critical in an evolving landscape with advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI) altering workflows and job responsibilities.
Mastering skills requires practice, reinforcement, coaching and collaboration. An effective everboarding process provides sales teams with revenue enablement capabilities by employing several approaches, which may include (but are not limited to):
The significant paperwork and long learning sessions in traditional onboarding often overwhelm new hires. Everboarding uses microlearning, a strategy where large amounts of information are broken into small, easily digestible chunks. Studies have shown this approach boosts retention. It also fits better into day-to-day life.
Everboarding caters to an employee’s specific training needs with a customized curriculum. For example, a salesperson with 10 years of experience doesn’t complete the same tasks as someone just out of college. A tailored approach saves time and enhances engagement while also providing new hires with information specific to their role.
Coaching and Collaborative Learning
Salespeople can learn a lot from each other. Everboarding incorporates coaching and collaboration to leverage valuable institutional knowledge and experience within the company. The curriculum includes ongoing one-on-one coaching and peer-led learning opportunities, such as recorded videos or live discussions.
The cliché, “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” rings true for on-the-job training. You could tell an employee everything they need to know about sales calls on the first day, but if they don’t get on a call for several weeks, that information won’t stick.
Continuous learning involves spaced repetition. Employees are periodically presented with courses, refreshers or practice sessions on relevant topics. The repetition signals the brain that this content is important, strengthening the pathways in the brain for future recall. Over time, employees retain the information and require fewer reminders. Role-playing and coaching are particularly effective tools for continuous learning. Research demonstrates this approach’s effectiveness.
Just-in-time learning also supports long-term retention. Employees receive training content just before they need it, keeping the knowledge fresh in their minds and enabling them to apply it immediately. For example, a new salesperson would receive training on how to handle buyer objections just before their first call with the prospect.
Creating a Successful Everboarding Process
How can you create a successful everboarding program? The following are critical elements.
Content must be bite-sized and engaging. Reading 20 different documents doesn’t foster the engagement necessary to facilitate learning and retention. A compelling content mix includes videos, presentations, exercises, quizzes, role-playing and one-on-one meetings, to name a few. The variety keeps the material interesting and helps employees feel more immersed in company culture.
Learning and development (L&D) teams don’t need to generate all the content. Engage resident subject matter experts to create materials such as videos or training sessions. Their hands-on experience gives them in-depth knowledge and a rapport with their colleagues, resulting in effective learning opportunities and freeing L&D to focus on strategic needs.
Material must be easily accessible, especially in remote and hybrid work environments. Accessibility starts with building a central repository for all your content. This learning library must work on all devices, including phones and tablets. With a centralized database, employees know exactly where to find everything and can view learning modules on their preferred device from their preferred location. More than 67% of employees want training available anywhere, anytime and wish to choose their training times. Accessibility also relies on short, digestible content that people can easily absorb and fit into busy schedules.
Everboarding requires technology. Asynchronous communication facilitates learning and connections across different locations while providing flexibility. Digital solutions also enable dynamic content, allowing teams to change and update modules frequently.
Technology can measure the use and effectiveness of learning materials. You can monitor course completion, employee competency, knowledge mastery and content performance to evaluate how your efforts influence skills, employee retention and leadership development.
Continuous Learning Mindset
Implementing everboarding requires a shift in perspective. You must view learning as a continuous journey, not a destination. Executive buy-in is critical to everboarding success. Company and team leaders must set an example by actively participating in the process and encouraging others. Additionally, you must build learning into workflows.
The Value of Everboarding
Everboarding facilitates revenue enablement. Training creates more engaged employees, resulting in better performance. Highly engaged workforces have produced:
- 18% higher productivity (sales).
- 23% higher profitability.
- 10% higher customer loyalty/engagement.
Traditional onboarding falls short in the current workplace. You must innovate your processes to provide ongoing, valuable training to build employee skills and job satisfaction. Investing in long-term learning for your salespeople generates long-term business success.
Select the Right Sales Readiness Tool for Your Team
Your sales readiness plan must include everboarding tactics. Download Forrester’s Sales Readiness Wave™ Report to see how the most significant sales readiness providers compare and how to select the right platform for your business.