A recent survey found a critical difference between effective and ineffective training programs: how much they invest in follow up.

TrainingIndustry Inc. and Axiom Sales Force Development sent out a survey asking companies to rate their own sales-training programs. Then the researchers looked at what the effective and ineffective groups did differently.

Overall, companies with effective programs spent about 10% more on training. But where they invested that money was especially telling. Both groups spent about the same on planning and on delivery (that is, training events). But the ones with effective programs spent almost twice as much on “sustainment” (that is, follow up) than their less-effective counterparts. They invested 22% of their on sustainment, versus only 13% for the ineffective programs.

In short, follow-up is worth the money. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that follow up remains something of a stepchild. Even in good companies, less money was invested in sustainment than in planning or delivery.

That’s going to come as no surprise to experienced trainers. Training events are high-profile items that fulfill top management’s expectations of what training should look like. They’re sort of like the sexy startup companies that attract investors: highly visible, easy to understand and kind of cool. Follow up is less glitzy. It requires hard work and sustained commitment, and much of it happens under the radar screen.

But, like reliable old companies in industries nobody knows about, they often yield a better return in the long run.

So how about your organization? Where are you devoting your resources and attention?

For a full report on the study, go to: trainingindustry.com

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