The Power of Practice-Based Learning

“I’ve sat through sales training with sales gurus and they talk a lot about value propositions but you actually helped me do it right!”


The retail banking arm of global financial institution with $16.72 billion in revenue and 37,000+ employees was struggling to sustain shareholder ROE in the face of demographic shifts and an uncertain economy.  In fiscal 2016, like most of the sector, the bank was seeking to:

  1. Drive up top-line revenue
  2. Contain bottom-line expenses 
  3. Deepen client share-of-wallet 
  4. Closely manage sales force performance
  5. Generate stronger sales force performance insights
  6. Improve sales force learning retention
  7. Sustain incremental performance improvement

A number of tactics were planned to address the situation including a massive outbound calling campaign targeted at existing, high-value clients and fronted by 540-strong sales force of existing private bankers.


The bank faced a set of emerging challenges:

  • Sales force churn was at 20% a year and rising as Baby Boomers reached pensionable age
  • Client needs were shifting away from straightforward loan and mortgage products and toward more complex investment and retirement products 
  • Branch foot traffic was flagging as increasingly tech-savvy younger demographic moved to electronic channels
  • Training impact and retention was not measured 
  • Coaching and feedback by managers was not well targeted during or after training 
  • Existing classroom training was targeted to the lowest common denominator resulting in high performers and under performers benefitting least
  • Private bankers were time-pressed, suspicions of outbound calling, and change resistant

Net result was that investment in face-to-face training was under review. Travel costs, facilitator costs, and cost of lost opportunities were a concern and the bank was seeking innovative and cost-saving learning alternatives that were demonstrably more effective. 


Practica Learning combined short-duration, 1:1 Knowledge Transfer Tutorials with Scenario-Based Practice Sessions in order to deliver out bound calling skills training quickly and cost-effectively.

Two days of traditional workshop content was converted into three, two-hour sessions. These were delivered virtually by telephone. Individual performance was bench-marked before training and assessed after training. The custom-designed solution leveraged a combination of:

  1. Facilitated, 1:1 Sales Training 
  2. Interleaving1 and spaced practice2  roleplays 
  3. Participant bench-marking and assessment
  4. Reporting of individual and aggregate performance data.

e-roleplay combined 1:1 knowledge transfer sessions with scenario-based practice to save money and drive up retention.

Session One, The Benchmark Generation Session, presented participants with a full scenario. The data gathered from a comprehensive skills list was the foundation for future learning and informed the Tutorial Sessions. Learning content was delivered in a 1:1 conversation format combined with Skill Drills to ensure knowledge transfer.

Session Two Practice Scenarios were scheduled four to eight days apart to leverage interleaving and spaced learning. Tutorial Session Three was customized based on participant performance in Scenario 1 and 2. To ensure appropriate coaching and sustainment, an Action Plan was co-developed and sent real-time to the participant and their manager.

Session Three focused on participants performing under the pressure of increased emotional intensity. The final scenario is an assessment and is measured against the skills list and client learning objectives. Bench mark and final assessment details are recorded and reported to participant, manager and HR group.  


There was a significant increase in the number and quality of outgoing calls made and in the number of client meetings booked by the private bankers. The L&D group incorporated Practica Learning into the private banker intake training.

Aggregate data and anecdotal feedback indicate improvement and lift in many areas of the Skills List, notably Delivering a Personal Value Proposition and Understanding Client Needs. Participants showed strong improvements in their ability to use open-ended questioning strategies and to educate clients.

There was significant improvement in key skills over four e-roleplay sessions.

Participant Net Promoter Score was very high: 96% and testimonials reflected the score:

 “I think it was fantastic – the feedback right after the roleplay; the practice moment fine tuning; the dialogue and collaboration – amazing.”

“I had a pre-conceived notion that I’ve heard all this before but this was completely new: thinking things through, having models to follow… practice makes perfect.”

“You guys are very good at what you do. You’re very engaging.  Everybody I talked to here, even our number two producer, said this was helpful.”

1 Interleaving practice involves working on multiple skills in parallel.

2 Spaced practice is a learning strategy, where practice is broken up into a number of short sessions over a longer period of time.

To learn more about us and how we can help your employees become more effective communicators through deliberate, experiential practice, please contact us.
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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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