Sales Training SUCKS, And How To Fix It!

That HAS to be some kind of a record for, “title to an article you wouldn’t think a sales trainer would write,” but here we go…

Sales training OFTEN fails to generate ROI.


Shockingly often.

Why is that?

The shortest answer is, “Training is change management in disguise but we treat it as a one-off event.”  The longer and more useful answer is, “Poor execution.”

Wait, that second answer was shorter than the first…

Let’s try this again.

Here are a few “tricks of the trade” to make sure that YOUR training program generates ROI:

What is your Sales Process?

The sales (or recruiting!) process should be the guide for everything your organization does.  It should be the thread that holds everything together.  Very simply, any team-member, at any point in your sales/recruiting cycle should know who is responsible for what action and what that action is.

A sales process is every step it takes from deciding who your perfect customer would be straight through to post-sale feedback.  If you don’t have a detailed sales process, one that incorporates the customer’s buying process, then start here.  This is the first and most important step as it’s absence will make scalable and repeatable growth very difficult to attain as all of your team will follow (or NOT follow!) different steps to the sale.

…And if they’re all following different steps and doing different things to get a sale:

  • How do you troubleshoot problems?
  • How do you replicate success?
  • WHAT are you training?

You think of training as an “event” and not a process

If I had one dollar for every time I had a business owner ask me, “How quickly can you get my sales people/recruiters through training?” I’d be sipping on an umbrella drink as the mediterranean waves gently rocked my 100 foot yacht and I diligently typed this post.

***It is possible that I am SLIGHTLY exaggerating***

Here’s a formula for the “math-types” in the audience:  Rushing through training = Poor/no retention

Seriously though, trying to rush training is a guarantee of failure.  100% of the time.  Training  is a change management process not an event.

When you tell a team-member to go through training you are saying to them, “You are not able to do X to my satisfaction and I would like that to change.”

Change is something that VERY few people enjoy and that no one does easily.  Moreover, it is not a sprint.  It’s a series of incremental changes. And, most importantly, training is only a PART of it.  There needs to be a plan to support the change that is driven at an executive/owner level to drive the process.

A much more powerful question is, “How quickly can we make my team effective at X.”

Speaking of team…

People do what they SEE

If you put your new-hires through training that your existing team has never done the new-hires will rarely (in my experience NEVER) follow the training.

Instead, they will dutifully go through the training they were assigned and then do what they see the more senior team-members doing.

If you hire a sales-trainer to spend a few hours a week with your new-hires and then put them on the sales floor with the rest of the team for 40-hours per week the sales-trainer will not be the one they follow.

Guys? Guys, whatcha doing?

                          Guys? Guys?  Whatcha doing?

This is closely related to the sales process entry above.  It is critically important that you have a clearly defined, well articulated sales or recruiting process that everyone follows and that the sales training SUPPORTS and reinforces that process.

Speaking of support…

Your sales training isn’t specific

There are a lot of sales trainers out there.  A LOT.  And very, very many of them are quite good.  But (there always seems to be a but, doesn’t there?), their style/process/methodology NEEDS to work with your organization’s sales process, sales cycle, business type, and philosophy.  Period.

We live in the information age.  Don’t waste time “adapting” the big-box trainers to your business.  Find someone who matches your needs and utilize them.

I’m not disparaging the industry leaders.  The recognized names.  They got where they are because they’re good at what they do.

But if they are teaching a long engagement sales cycle and you have a very short engagement cycle, then there’s a disconnect.

If you are a project based professional services or staffing company and they teach direct-hire staffing then there is a disconnect.

If you are a technical staffing firm and they teach admin clerical staffing there is a disconnect.

And the LARGER the disconnect the more work YOU do adapting what they teach to your business model or you are allowing the generalizations to stand and that is a mistake.  The devil, as they say, is in the details.

There are other reasons that training fails to generate ROI and if you’d like to talk about them then start a conversation in the comments below or click on the “Contact Me” tab on the top of the website page and we can speak about them directly.

Weekly Challenge

Start with the beginning.

Examine your Sales Process.

Does it:

  • Encompass all of the steps in your sales cycle from prospect identification through post sale feedback?
  • Clearly define who is responsible for which action? (Protip:  If two people are responsible for one action then no one is!)
  • Incorporate the buyer’s buying process?  (We get paid for what THEY do, not what WE do!)
  • Have clearly defined steps so their is an objective way to tell that you are ready to move to the next step?

If you don’t have a Sales Process then build a basic one using the system I just described.  I cannot overstate how important having a sales process is to the growth and management of your company.

As always, thank you for stopping by!

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Thank You,





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