Sales Force Development Sustainment

Sales Training SustainmentIn my last blog, I referenced a troublesome statistic found when doing some Internet reading. One company’s research suggested 90% of sales training initiatives fail. While troublesome, it wasn’t necessarily surprising. Most research and surveys suggests, at best, short-term impact on sales productivity from investments in traditional training programs for sellers.

I think it’s time to come to this conclusion: sales training, in and of itself, doesn’t work.

The problem isn’t necessarily the quality of the training being offered. Many a company has failed in implementing great programs that could have had a significant impact had they simply executed. If the impact is any measure, a short-term boost in sales should tell us something is working, something is right. Remember, research submits that 90% of initiatives fail. That means 10% succeed. What are 10 companies out of 100 doing the other 90 aren’t?


If it hasn’t already, sustainment should be the Holy Grail for both sales force development companies and the companies they serve. Those in the business of ‘Sales Transformation’ and thousands before us have sought answers to the challenges of ‘making things stick’, only to find it as elusive and seemingly impossible as peace in the Middle East.

Some in the training industry blame the failure of their programs on the customer’s inability to execute. “If they would simply do what they are told and hold people accountable, they would get the impact they expect.” That may be true, but if it’s so simple, why don’t they do it? With all the brainpower of sales training masterminds, could the failure be the fact that WE haven’t completely thought this through? Could it be that we aren’t providing the process, tools, and structure to guarantee the success of our programs?

Sustainment starts with the sales force development provider.

WE have an obligation to provide programs and tools that clearly define exactly what needs to happen for impact to be realized.

WE have an obligation to make certain our programs provide clear and simple methodology for measuring all four levels of the Kirkpatrick training efficacy model (see previous blog). WE have to be there with our customers through the entire process. WE have to have methodologies and tools to hold our customers accountable for their commitments to the program at every level in their organization.

I’m not trying to over simplify this. I’m not trying to absolve our customers from any responsibility in a programs failure. I am saying that we should aware of the root causes for program failure and be able to deliver solutions and corrective action for each and every one.

Stay tuned. It’s time to end the problem with sales training sustainment once and for all…

About Bob Nicols Founder AXIOM Sales Force Development, Inc.

Bob Nicols Bob Nicols has 34 years of experience in sales, sales management, executive management and sales force development. He founded Burton Training Group, now AXIOM Sales Force Development, in 1990 after being a top and highly recognized performer in sales, sales management and executive positions within the technology sector. He has managed and mentored thousands of sales people, sales managers and senior managers and been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. For more than 21 years he has developed and delivered sales programs that have become the standard for many Fortune 100 companies including AT&T, BellSouth, Disney Enterprises, Alltel, Verizon and ESPN. AXIOM programs have been implemented in over 30 countries including Japan, the UK, Germany, Dubai, Brazil, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, China, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, Slovakia, Sweden, and The Netherlands. Bob’s highly energetic and insightful lectures and workshops have resulted in invitations to be a featured presenter at dozens of national and international sales meetings and conferences. He is a trusted advisor to the presidents and senior managers of multiple organizations, both large and small and has been a board member of a national technology company. Bob is the developer of AXIOM’s “Selling Sciences ProgramTM” and co-author of the “Selling Sciences” CD series.

Axiom Sales Kinetics LLC Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250