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  • Writer's pictureTom Clancy

How long does it take to develop a new habit?

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

For many years, people have quoted the Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon, “21-Day Rule” that states that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. However, we believe the Maltz “21-Day Rule” could be a myth. An extension of that is the “21/90 Rule” that indicates that it takes 21 days to make a habit and 90 days to make it a permanent lifestyle change.

Philippa Lally, a health psychology researcher from University College London, claims it takes an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.

So, How Does One Change the Behavior of Salespeople?

Anyone that has participated in a traditional sales training workshop is familiar with the term “It’s like drinking water from a fire hose”. Tons of great content presented in a short span of time simply cannot be absorbed, retained, and put into practice. The “Forgetting Curve” and other research results described earlier proves that out.

So, does anything work? Yes…absolutely – there are two approaches that do prove to work when combined:

  1. Bite-size Learning

  2. Spaced Repetition

Sounds great, right? But what does it really mean?

Bite-sized Learning, sometimes called micro-learning, is based on short sessions where the content is focused on a single topic or learning objective and deals with just that information so the learner can actually absorb and retain the information. It is felt that this type of learning is more effective with today’s modern learner that has an ever-shrinking attention span and is constantly dealing with multiple distractions.

Spaced Repetition is a learning technique where content and information are reviewed at strategically spaced intervals which has proven to greatly improve long-term retention and a better, deeper understanding of the key concepts that are being presented.

In short, spread the training out over a period of time, review less content on each session, and the result is that the individual is likely to retain and actually comprehend more of what they are being taught, and is therefore more likely to put what is learned into daily practice. And good, new, long-term behaviors and habits are formed.

"Great! Is This All That’s Needed?"

Add ongoing support and reinforcement; appropriate goals, constant measurement and accountability; and effective mentoring and coaching, and you’ve greatly increased your chances of changing your salesperson’s skills, behavior and habits for the long-term.

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