Sales training: effects of spaced
practice on training transfer
Simone Kauffeld and Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock
t Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany
Purpose – The beneﬁts of spaced training over massed training practice are well established in
the laboratory setting. In a ﬁeld study design with sales trainings, the purpose of this paper is to
investigate the effects of spaced compared with massed practice on transfer quantity and quality, sales
competence, and key ﬁgures.
Design/methodology/approach – Spaced and massed training are compared using behavioral and
outcome criteria. A quasi-experimental follow-up research design with a sample of 64 bank employees
(n ¼ 32 in each training group) is used.
Findings – Spaced rather than massed training practice resulted in greater transfer quality, higher
self-reports of sales competence, and improved key ﬁgures. Spaced training did not surpass massed
training in terms of transfer quantity.
Research limitations/implications – The present study is the ﬁrst to demonstrate positive effects
of technical training on job involvement, and of coaching on job satisfaction. In sum, validity of several
developmental interventions is highlighted.
Practical implications – Organizations designing and implementing various developmental
interventions should pay attention to the relative effectiveness of these interventions on various
organizational-relevant outcome criteria.
Originality/value – An innovative approach to imply spaced practice in real sales training is
presented. The effects of spaced practice on training transfer are investigated in the ﬁeld.
Keywords Training, Sales training, Training methods
Paper type Research paper
To keep pace with a permanently changing work environment, organizations are
investing considerable sums of money in human resource development. Challenges
include technical progress, increasing competition, and the fact that work-related
knowledge is outdated quickly. Thus, it is imperative for organizations facing global
competition to continuously advance employees’ knowledge, skills, abilities, and
attitudes. In 2004, US-American companies spent an average of $955 per employee on
training (Sugrue and Rivera, 2005). Total training costs in the European Union ranged
from 1.2 percent (Portugal) to 3.6 percent (UK) of the overall labor costs in 1999
(European Communities, 2002).
Much past research has attended to the effectiveness of training (i.e. whether
a speciﬁc training works). Recently, the focus has shifted from training output to process
models – why a certain training has an effect and how it can be optimized (Holton et al.,
2000). Trainee characteristics and working environment aside, the training itself
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This research was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the
European Social Fund.
Received 29 April 2009
Revised 20 June 2009
Accepted 10 July 2009
Journal of European Industrial
Vol. 34 No. 1, 2010
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited