Experiential Learning: Elevating Your Performance During Training, Not After

By XINNIX | October 14, 2022 | Training

People don’t want to engage in sales and leadership training for many reasons. They may view training as boring and unnecessary, just another box to check before they can get back to doing the same practices and strategies they used before. When no experiential learning opportunities are involved, I don’t blame most people for feeling this way. At some point, we have all been in a course, seminar, or workshop that was—to put it bluntly—a huge waste of our time.  So many training programs are nothing more than a presentation of information. The expectation is that you will sit through some classes, learn the information over several weeks, and then figure out how to implement this information once you can finally get back to work. Who has time for that? Suppose you are serious about elevating your production. In that case, you’re probably going crazy sitting through classes like these, desperate to get out and get back to your desk so you can actually work on moving the needle forward. You’re watching the clock instead of watching the boring slide presentation.  I have been training sales professionals and leaders for over thirty years. When I founded XINNIX over twenty years ago, I knew people didn’t have time to waste. I couldn’t ask someone to put their business on hold for weeks at a time to sit in a classroom. That’s why we don’t ask you to wait and implement what we teach after the training program ends. You will start to see your performance improve while you’re sitting in the classroom, leading to an immediate increase in sales numbers. How is this possible? We implement a training, coaching, and accountability system based on experiential learning principles. As  David Kolb , an American psychologist who has influenced the world of education and business with his theory of experiential learning famously said, “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.” 

People Learn by Doing 

Think back to when you got your driver’s license. Did the DMV hand over your license because you sat through a video about how cars work and then took a written test? Of course not. Instead, you spent a year driving under supervision, probably scaring that unlucky parent or driver’s ed teacher in the passenger’s seat half to death while you figured out how to be safe and responsible behind the wheel. The only way to learn how to drive is to drive, but you need someone beside you to make sure you don’t crash the car.  Sales training should be like a driver’s ed class, not a book club. While reading the material is certainly important, the hands-on experience is how you learn to apply it. When we survey our XINNIX students, we repeatedly see that the vast majority are excited to come to the next class. Why? Because we set time aside in each training session for our students to implement the things they are learning in real time. We put them behind the wheel and have them hit the road! 

The Importance of the Passenger Seat

Let’s go back to the idea of a person in the passenger seat. While we are having our students immediately implement what they learn, we are not throwing them to the wolves. Instead, students need a safe place to practice what they are learning. They need guidance and coaching. They need the freedom to fail, learn from the experience, and try again. During the training process, students need someone with experience beside them every step of the way. That’s why a new driver starts with a permit, not a license. And that’s why at XINNIX, we believe coaching and accountability are a necessary—not optional—part of the training process.  At XINNIX, our Performance Specialists aren’t just there to relay information. They are there to model best practices and guide the student toward implementing them. Additionally, our Performance Specialists offer accountability, checking in with their students to ensure they succeed in the real-world application of these practices outside of the classroom. Experiential learning is not meant to be a freefall. Instead, it is a guided journey. When students know they are in a safe environment to try something new, potentially mess up, but then try again until they succeed, they will grow in both skill and confidence. This method is how to truly elevate performance and production.  If you want your team to lean in and get excited about training, don’t ask them to put their business on hold and sit in a classroom. No one will give their full effort to an endeavor they rightfully perceive as a waste of time. Instead, ask them to engage in a process that will have an immediate impact, allowing them to feel the thrill of reaching the next level of success. Don’t give them information. Give them an experience.