Skip to main content
Sales AboutFACE, Inc. | Ottawa, ON

This website uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience.
You can learn more by clicking here.

Terry Ledden

REASON 1) Sales training doesn’t work.

Granted, there are more ways to go wrong than there are approaches that work. Here are some underlying causes of sales training failure.

A - Sales Training is often treated as an event, and not an ongoing process. Mastering selling skills is like mastering golf or playing the piano -- a set of skills developed over time. High levels of sales performance depend on skill mastery, so that your sales people can function optimally under pressure in buyer/seller situations. You can’t master a skill by reading a book, listening to a podcast, webinar or attending one-day seminars. 

To give your next training effort a lasting positive impact, here are some rules to keep in mind.

  • Sales management must be prepared to coach their salespeople, to support the new skills. The training program must have a plan to achieve 100% management buy-in and to prepare your managers to support and reinforce the process on a daily basis.
  • Provide processes and tools that reinforce the training, and increase willing adherence to a systematic approach.
  • The infrastructure may require updating, for instance you might need to adjust your sales force automation tools or your compensation plan.

B - The second cause of failure is the training program doesn’t fit your company or your people. Properly assess and customize up-front. At the organizational level, the training may not fit your processes and culture. At the individual level, most sales training is ‘sheep dipping’ -- giving everyone the same treatment. Sales people, especially the senior ones, never ‘buy in’ to the program. They see it as ‘the management fad' of the month. If your sales team is typical, you have people at different levels, with a variety of personal development needs.

C - No Buy-In—the third cause of sales training failure.

Keys to buy-in are:

  • Senior People. A successful program will involve your managers and senior sales people in customizing a program that provides a set of tools that your sales people can use and have success with, the next day. This involvement also starts the buy-in process even prior to the first training session.
  • The Messenger. The program must appeal to a wide audience. The messenger is as important as the message - only an entertaining and experienced trainer will win over your toughest seasoned veterans.
  • Critical Dimensions. A one-legged stool always falls. The fourth root cause of sales training failure is that most sales training is one dimensional, focusing only on selling technique. There are three critical dimensions to optimizing sales performance -- attitude, behavior and technique. Technique-only training is doomed to failure.

A successful program includes development on all three points of the success triangle (Attitude, Behaviour, Technique), on an ongoing basis and helps your managers graduate to effective coaches, mentors and leaders.

REASON 2) Sales people are born, not made

This belief leads many business owners and sales executives to search for sales super stars, and most often results in frustration and high turnover in the sales force. There are two reasons for this:

  • Superstars aren’t often for hire.
  • Superstars tend to be in high level positions at other companies and simply aren’t available for you to hire.

 REASON 3) I can teach them everything there is to know. 

 Business owners and sales managers often tell us:

"I have successfully sold to get this company to where it is today. I know what my people need to do, I tell them, but they just don’t seem to get it! When it comes from me it’s like their parents talking."  Is it possible that an outside source can have more impact? Are they ‘Parent deaf?"

 REASON 4) That's why I hired the sales manager. 

You selected the sales manager because s/he was top sales person. Unfortunately top sales people don’t necessarily make good sales managers. Highly successful sales people are often intuitive in their approach - but don’t have a system or a model they can explain and pass on to others. A system makes skills reproducible.

 REASON 5) I don't see the return on investment

The impact of a properly conducted sales development program is measurable. A key aspect of the program is accountability for results.


If you liked 5 Reasons Not to Invest in Sales Training you might also like "Why Sales People Fail and What You Can Do About It" This white paper describes the conventional sales process and the resulting non-productive Buyer - Seller dance. Find out how to interrupt the typical buyer - seller pattern of behaviour that results in prospects fighting for control, faking interest, stealing your valuable information - expertise, misleading you into thinking you will be doing business and then hiding - disappearing at decision time.


Make a comment

Share this article: