Sales Training: 5 Deadly Sins

sales training

Sales training initiatives are launched with the intention of increasing sales and margins. This is accomplished by improving sales team performance through the transference of skills and knowledge. The typical approach is to expose participants to new and/or different techniques, processes, and methodologies. This is typically done through instruction, behavior modeling, and participant role-play with tests for retention and proficiency. By the end of the session, in most cases, sellers adequately demonstrate proficiency with new knowledge and skills. Then, they return to the field and continue to sell the way they did before. So why is that?

sales training

Reasons Sales Training Initiatives Fail

According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Co. in 2010, organizations invested over $100 Billion in 2011 to train employees on Sales Techniques, Communications, and Performance Management. Of the organizations included, only 25% of the respondents said training improved business results. That means that 75% of training failed to produce the intended business impact. In fact, the training negatively impacted the organizations in several ways.

  • Training sessions decreased productivity and efficiencies due to time out of the field.
  • Operating expenses for training materials and travel provided little business impact.

Can your organization afford to fall into the 75% of organizations experiencing negative impacts from training?

What’s causing these sales training programs to fail? Are these training programs flawed? Or are salespeople just not taking the time to implement their new selling skills? The reason why so many sales training programs fail is simple. Organizations implementing the programs commit one or more of the following 5 Deadly Sins of Sales Training.

No Ownership

The first deadly sin of sales training is the lack of ownership. Ownership is required to embrace the new skills/processes. In order for salespeople or managers to behave differently, they must admit to the gap between their current and desired behavior. They must own it. Senior leadership cannot simply decide that salespeople/managers must change, and then dictate what new behaviors will be.

Expose current behaviors that are not producing desired results. Only when sellers recognize their weaknesses will they be open to new ideas that involve behavior change. By securing ownership of selling skills you can develop a culture that drives continuous improvement. Moreover, you’ll deliver exceptional results for the company, your customers, and your team.

  • Are you holding your sellers accountable for the skills, processes, and concepts required to achieve your desired business impact?

Sales Training: Poor Methodology

The second deadly sin of sales training is the lack of a clearly defined process/structure. This process enables sellers to achieve their targets. The primary obligation of any business is to develop concise, clear structures by which staff can succeed. Without a clearly defined process, we take good, capable, well-meaning people, and leave them to figure things out on their own. Doing so sets them up to fail. We place blame on them for our failure to meet sales goals as an organization.

  • Are you leaving your sellers to figure things out on their own? What impact is that having on your ability to transform from Vendor to Trusted Advisor?

Lack of Management Engagement

The third deadly sin of sales training is the lack of management engagement in the initiative. Each level of management has responsibility for driving the adoption of new behaviors and skills. If behavioral change is going to take place, everyone must be held responsible. Coaching is the key to success! A study of Fortune 500 telecommunications companies by MetrixGlobal discovered an interesting face. Executive coaching resulted in a 529% return on investment. Your organization must engage and coaching seller performance. Moreover, your team must apply ideal skills and processes. Imagine the ROI impact potentiality for your business!

  • Are you holding your leadership team accountable? Leaders should coach and execute the selling skills, processes, and concepts they want to achieve.

Poor Tools in Sales Training

The fourth deadly sin of sales training is the lack of quality tools and resources. Tools must be provided to enable participants to apply skills and processes post-training. Training is an initiative. It’s not a single event. We can’t teach people everything they need to know in a few days/weeks.

What happens AFTER class in the field provides the most critical learning opportunities and greatest potential benefit.
We must enable sellers to apply the skills and concepts learned in training. To do this, we must provide them with user-friendly tools and readily available resources. Doing so reinforces the key skills and concepts of the initiative. This includes aligning marketing collateral with your sales methodology, manager coaching, tools, resources, and reinforcement training.

  • Are you providing sellers with the tools needed to support the implementation/execution of selling skills, processes, and concepts? Do so is the only way to achieve your desired business impact.

No Measurement or Tracking of Behavior

The final deadly sin of sales training is the failure to measure results. Many organizations launch programs, invest time, money, and resources to implement the training. However, when asked about the impact of the training, the only results that can be reported are completion rates of training. How does this indicate the business impact of the training?

Point in fact, this helps validate the investment. But more importantly, it identifies the characteristics of training. Additionally, the performance systems and work environment must be evaluated. Challenges may be addressed. This generates greater value from training programs. Also, it improves programs constantly.

Training Programs & Their Impact

  • Training programs should achieve their desired business impact.

It’s time to get the most out of your investment in sales training programs! Specifically, avoid the 5 Deadly Sins of Sales Training. Consider the following.

  • Firstly, establish the intended business impact of the initiative.
  • Secondly, what will success for this initiative look like? You must do what it takes to meet your goals. However, this must be malleable.
  • Thirdly, hold participants accountable for results.
  • Fourthly, established what learners should gain from this training.
  • Leadership must support the initiative.
  • Identify the structure and processes required. Doing so supports the successful implementation/application of the selling skills, processes, and concepts.
  • Sales leaders must apply the skills required. Ensure this happens.
  • Create tools and resources to support the application of the skills and concepts.
  • Lastly, will these tools/resources help or hinder the process?

In summary, transforming your sales organization is a daunting challenge. So, become mindful of the 5 Deadly Sins of Sales Training. Consequentially, you will experience less pain and more reward.

Contact AXIOM Sales Kinetics Today!

AXIOM Sales Kinetics is here to answer all your top-level sales questions. We have been assisting businesses for decades in achieving their sales quotas and establishing proven training techniques. Additionally, our team of sales professionals has a proven track record of sales success. Point in fact, we are here for you.

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