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Professional Sales Training Associates Inc. | Appleton, WI

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5 Reasons Why Sales Training Doesn't Work

1. It’s taught in a one day seminar - We all know one day seminars don’t work. Everyone gets together for a day to get all excited, to high five, to give high rankings to the trainer and the training content. Then nothing changes. (Sure, maybe for a week it changes, but over time people will revert back to what they’re most comfortable with).

Any good sales training content is going to have some elements that people aren’t comfortable with, initially. Imagine going to a one-time golf lesson or a one-time class on speaking Spanish. How well do you think that would work? The way adults learn is through repetition. There’s no simplification of this law of physics when it comes to learning and changing. Without ongoing reinforcement of anything (whether it’s sales training, golf, or speaking a foreign language) you shouldn’t even start.


2. It’s taught by a trainer, not a salesperson - If you’ve ever been to a training on any kind of content and the person doing the training doesn’t actually practice what they preach, it’s easy to lose credibility in that person. And salespeople, of all professions, have an astute internal BS meter.

They can tell if the person who is training actually does what they are describing in their techniques, strategies and mindsets. So, without having a successful salesperson leading the training and coaching, not only do the veterans not listen, but no one gets the level of expertise they deserve. You don’t have to be the best in the world to coach in a certain sport, but you do have to understand the sport inside and out. And it certainly helps if you are a good player, too.


3. Sales leadership doesn’t totally buy in - One of the linchpins in a sales training program working, is leadership buy in. Everyone from the top of the organization down needs to fully support the changes necessary to really transform a sales culture.

Effective sales training is much more than just doing training workshops. It’s addressing the mindsets, the daily behaviors, the techniques and the strategies that are proven to succeed in selling. Without having managers and all leaders reinforce the concepts they’re learning in training sessions, people typically don’t follow through. It’s like someone who goes to a gym on January 1st, and gets in a couple of lessons. But then they don’t have someone to reinforce it with them, like a personal trainer. The sales manager, in many ways, is like a personal trainer. They debrief calls; they do pre-call strategies; they role play; they do ride-alongs.

Without having someone day-to-day, reinforcing concepts and strategies, sales training doesn’t stick. Not only that, but without the conceptual buy in from everyone in the organization who has an impact on sales, much training then becomes the flavor of the month, flavor of the quarter or flavor of the year.


4. Not everyone is trainable - The assumption when many companies begin training programs is that everyone’s trainable. All the managers, all the sales people, everyone. That’s simply not the case. The data is overwhelming in this. Not everyone is trainable and coachable. If you try to train someone who doesn’t want to learn, for a variety of reasons that can be identified, you’re going to throw away a lot of money and be very frustrated.

Don’t try to train people that aren’t trainable.
Only work with those who have the highest potential for growth.
Never begin training before testing to make sure people are trainable


5. There is no role-play - Going back to the golf analogy, imagine taking a golf lesson. The instructor walks in, and starts talking about golf. The stance, the grip, the back-swing, the follow through. And then says ‘okay our lesson’s done. See you next week’.

You would probably look at the instructor and say ‘time out, aren’t we gonna hit some balls’? There’s no better way to build a skill set than through muscle memory of repetition. Whether it’s golf or selling. Much training doesn’t work because people are exposed to it one time, and then they move on to the next chapter. Role play is critical to being able to reinforce a skill that was taught. There’s a big different between the knowledge of how to sell and the skill of how to sell. You can read about knowledge in a book but you typically don’t get the skill. Not without a lot of practice. And ultimately we want that skill to become a habit so it happens all the time.


Of course these aren’t the only five reasons of why sales training doesn’t work. But these are the key common mistakes companies make. If you’re looking to grow your team through training, it can be a great idea.


I’ve seen sales force development programs with training and coaching as elements, completely transform sales forces. I’ve worked with companies for over twenty years that continually, every single year, grow the people skill-sets and sales.


But if you make these common mistakes when embarking on a training program, your likelihood of success is nothing close to what is possible.

Email Eric To learn more about Sandler