90% of Training Fails

In a new study, a research firm found that training projects were unsuccessful 90% of the time – almost a complete failure. The majority of the research studies on training show a inability to produce sustainable, continued benefits. Why do companies keep spending money on new programs while sales training keeps generating billions in revenue virtually every year?

Learning FailsOne reason is that companies continue to struggle with sales and think something new will work. So they keep training. They switch from one sales technique to another, one provider to another, looking for  the best fit for their sales team. They keep investing considerable dollars, then get short-term outcomes, and then repeat the whole process again.

Another reason is that it’s just hard to change people’s behaviors using just training seminars. Change takes time and requires continued reinforcement after the training experience.

Who is to blame?


It’s probably both the training companies and their clients. It would be impossible not to point at least partial blame at training companies, but what happens in the classroom is not all that counts. Follow-up, i.e. what occurs just after participants leave the training is the often the biggest problem.

Don  Kirkpatrick is well known for his four levels of training measurement.

  • Level 1: Reaction (Did they like It?)
  • Level 2: Learning (Did they learn it?)
  • Level 3: Behavior (Did they use it?)
  • Level 4: Results (Did it produce results)?

The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) benchmarking research found that 95% of companies use Level 1 validation, 37% used Level 2, 13% used Level 3, and only 3% utilized Level 4.

Companies and vendors are doing a very poor job to determine if training really sticks. It’s likely that if they not measuring it, they probably haven’t planned for it much follow-up and reinforcement.  They haven’t thought about the significant drop-off in knowledge and skills in the weeks that follow most sales training seminars. Our research shoes that as much as 80% of the training effect may be lost within ninety days without proper reinforcement.

The word system is an important part of our name – Professional Learning Systems. We know that improving performance requires more than just a one-shot training program.  Improved performance on the job requires:

  • a quality training experience
  • follow-up training
  • management coaching and reinforcement
  • measurement

We develop learning systems to be sure that our training sticks.

For more information, please call us at (513)772-5115, or contact us to discuss your needs.