Introducing Lightning Sessions: The New Way of Learning through Deliberate Practice
Have you ever finished a course and thought ‘I knew all of that’ and still have no idea why your performance isn’t great?
Or, even better…
Have you ever finished a course and thought ‘wow, that was amazing, I learned so much” and then returned to your desk and carried on doing exactly what you always do?
Same. In fact, we all do it over and over again, and it’s because it’s actually really hard to turn something we know into something we consciously do. On top of that- in Sales there just isn’t time to lose doing things that aren’t going to improve your performance and outcomes TODAY.
So what now? At SIA here’s what we’re doing that’s different to normal sales training.
1. Breaking learning down into manageable chunks and being specific about the HOW
We can’t apply everything at once – it’s too hard. No one would expect us to hear from an Olympic athlete about their astonishing achievements and then the next day be able to run a marathon in record time (even if we retained all the theory!), so why do we expect this in other disciplines? Instead, we need to break down learning into its most basic component parts, have great examples of how to do it (source 1) and then build these over time into exceptional performance.
For example: If I actually want to be a great marathon runner, I need to look at my diet (and have a copy of a marathon runners meal schedule so I know what that looks like), I need to build strength (and have someone tell me how to exercise the right muscles), I need to find the right footwear… All of these specific parts will influence how well I can run.
2. Practice, practice and then practice some more.
“We are what we repeatedly do… therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
Practice – but be deliberate about it. Plan activities to improve a specific skill, then give it a lot of focus and repeat it until it’s just a habit. It doesn’t just make sense, cognitive science actually proves that doing this will not only help you to more accurately commit what you’ve learned to long-term memory but also build your confidence, fluency and automaticity (source 2). In short – by rehearsing small tasks, we allow ourselves to build unconscious habits that make tackling more complex tasks easier.
Here’s another sports analogy: Want to become a world-class baseball player? Do your batting practice.
3. Practice in context
Did you know, if you learn something when drunk, you’ll remember it better when you’re drunk? Learned something when deep sea diving? You’ll remember it better 20ft underwater (source 3). It might surprise you to know you learn better when knowledge and skills are presented and practised in context. Context matters – when and where you learn something, and the scenarios you practice, matter to how well you’re able to process and remember it.
It is particularly valuable when the context reflects settings and scenarios that are authentic to the work that you do as practitioners and professionals in the field. Learning in context helps you develop knowledge that can actually be used. So if you want to learn about cold calling? Learn it at the desk where you do your calls, and with examples close to what you deal with every day.
We need experts to help us know what to practice, help us see where we are going wrong and help us adjust. If we continuously practice without feedback, we risk turning bad practices into habits too, or waste time focusing on the wrong thing.
Giving and receiving feedback from peers is also extremely valuable – it’s proven that you learn better when you are exposed to different perspectives by working with others. This helps to deepen and enrich individual thinking and learning and can increase motivation and satisfaction (source 4). Are you worried you can’t learn from your peers because you’re already better than them at the skill? Well, explaining what you know to someone else can embed the learning more effectively into your memory (source 5).
So, how are we practising what we preach at SIA?
Well, we’re launching a new model of course called lightning sessions. The content has been carefully selected by world-class experts who have whittled down all of their experience to the specific skills and practice activities you need to do to be an incredible SDR/BDR. Once we’ve diagnosed the skill you need to learn, experts teach you it, show you how to do it and then help you practice in your individualised context. You’ll then get specific, actionable feedback from that expert and your peers again and again until you get it right. And guess what? They’re only about 30 mins long.
Willingham, D.T., 2021. Why don’t students like school?: A cognitive scientist answers questions about how the mind works and what it means for the classroom. John Wiley & Sons.
Duckworth, A.L., Kirby, T.A., Tsukayama, E., Berstein, H. and Ericsson, K.A., 2011.
- Ericsson, A. and Pool, R., 2016.
Chi, M.T. and Wylie, R., 2014. The ICAP framework: Linking cognitive engagement to active learning outcomes. Educational psychologist, 49(4), pp.219-243
Swan, K., Shea, P., Fredericksen, E., Pickett, A., Pelz, W. and Maher, G., 2000. Building knowledge building communities: Consistency, contact and communication in the virtual classroom. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 23(4), pp.359-383.