Why Most Sales Training Doesn’t Work (and How to Make Sure It Does)

Mentoring

Sales training matters to every organization. In fact, effective sales training is so crucial that the very existence of your business is at risk. So, it’s natural to expect that after a day or two of comprehensive sales training, your salesperson will emerge ready to fly. Armed with a full understanding of sales goals, tools and processes. Ready to use that learning, along with relevant experience, and get on the phone and go out in the field and sell, sell, sell! But here’s the harsh reality: Nearly all sales training programs fail. Miserably.

Soon, your freshly trained and motivated salesperson will fall back into the routine of using ineffective, worn-out sales techniques. Think of it as “muscle memory.” Even if the training program’s sales techniques should work, and even if they are time-tested and proven in other organizations, they will probably barely alter ineffective methods used to that point.

Why? Four reasons:

  • Most sales training programs are generic. One size does not fit all, and yet most sales training programs treat a roomful of sales trainees as if they are clones. Therefore, because their problems or performance issues that led them to sign up for training are unique, the sales program will, at best, be only partly relevant.
  • Most sales training programs provide only temporary motivation.It’s natural for training participants to be eager to apply new training tactics in the real world. But heightened expectations bring disappointment when the “glow” wears off and reality sets in.
  • Most sales training programs provide no follow up or reinforcement.Without ongoing support or encouragement, the salesperson can easily fall back into old habits and poor performance routines. Sadly, this is the norm.
  • Most sales training programs are led by someone who hasn’t sold anything in a long time – if ever.Too often, a sales program presenter does not have a background in sales. But real-world sales experience matters. Without it, the facilitator’s lack of credibility will quickly reveal itself.

So, what can a Sales Manager do to help ensure more effective sales training? First, the Sales Manager should be properly skilled and trained. Knowing the preferred sales performance methods, the Sales Manager can then:

  • Travel with Reps to determine competency. The Sales Manager first needs to fully understand which skills gaps need filled. The Sales Manager also needs to assess sales weaknesses and see how these issues affect sales calls and sales goals attainment. In-the-field observation is crucial to helping the Sales Manager “zero in” on critical performance issues.
  • Customize training to fit Sales Rep needs.Because performance problems are unique, the solution should also be custom-tailored to the trainee.
  • Obtain “buy-in.”Don’t just formalize and implement a structured sales training program. Instead, introduce, demonstrate and discuss it to make sure participants understand it is customized for their unique challenges and optimized for success. Do that, and buy-in will be more easily achieved.
  • Emphasize role play.Through role playing, trainees learn how new methods can be applied to real prospect or customer situations. Sales Reps will clearly understand the connection between the training and intended results. These include how much better they can perform, how much more revenue they can generate, and how much more money they can earn. Role playing helps demonstrate if a trainee understood what was taught and can apply that knowledge.
  • Follow up.Within two weeks of completing the custom sales training program, facilitate follow-up training. This will reinforce key sales training messages, enable the Sales Rep to discuss challenges applying the lessons, and allow adjustments to be made.

The Bottom Line:

Sales training can, indeed, be effective, but only when truly responsive to performance deficiencies unique to the organization or the salesperson. “Canned” sales training programs fail because they are not designed or equipped to address real-world sales performance issues. So, instead, invest your organization’s time and money in custom sales training specific to your sales team’s needs.

Need help understanding your company’s sales challenges and how to overcome them with custom sales training programs? Click here to find your nearest Sales Xceleration Advisor, or contact us at 844.874.7253.