When Sales Training isn’t working

When Sales Training Isn't WorkingNothing is more frustrating than investing the time to identify
the need, design, develop, and deliver great sales training
and then discover that sellers aren’t implementing what they
learned when they get back to the field.

Whether you’re delivering product or soft skills training,
participant time away from the job is expensive and your organization
has a right to expect to see a sizeable return on their investment.

Executives and sales managers often lament that while they can
quickly tell us how much they’ve spent on training their sellers
in a given quarter or year, pointing to actual behavior changes
and sales increases is not always as easy. Increase the value of
your training by changing the way you think and plan for sustainable

Design and Develop: Confirm with your stakeholder, the business
value and observable behaviors the organization is expecting at
the end of the training, then 3 and 6 months later. Are they looking
for an increase in new client opportunities in the pipeline, reduced
sales cycles, or more up-selling?

As training is designed and developed, use learning objectives
and module goals as beacons to create the training content. Conceptualize
and then validate exactly what it is you and the stakeholder expect
from participants at defined milestones. Use those measurable behaviors
as a yardstick. Hold the developing content and activities up against
it to ensure their value.

Deliver: Tell sellers early exactly what’s expected of them
by the end of the training. Show them the WIIFM, what’s in it for
them, and how the improvement in their skills will directly impact
their sales results, goal attainment, and pocket-book. Finally,
tell them how their skills will be observed and measured by their

Today’s adult learners are sophisticated, constantly seeking short
cuts to get results quicker. We’ve found that compulsory learning
paths don’t always work, especially with sellers. Learners will
implement only those skills and tools that make them more productive,
faster. We’re amazed at the success achieved when we involve learners
as much as possible in the interpretation and application of the
content. They feel a sense of ownership and want to try new techniques.
Be flexible in your delivery even if it means diverging from the
path you’ve defined. Let them share their own experiences and hardships
and apply them to the techniques you’re training.

Use the measurable sales behaviors as the goal you’re all striving
for. For example, if you’re focused on moving a solution sales force
to a consultative approach, measure behaviors like executive meetings
and quarterly business reviews.

Evaluation: Involve the managers and team leads who’ll be
supporting and helping implement the desired sales behavior changes
throughout the design, development and delivery process. They’re
busy people who’re often challenged when told it ‘s their responsibility
to “coach” their teams. Managers that we repeatedly work
with expect us to interview them early in the training process to
clearly understand their team’s current – and desired behaviors.
With a clear picture of how the sales training is designed to help
reach the measurable business goals, they buy-in early and support
participation from pre-class prep work, through delivery, and into

A component of our classes that managers now look for and appreciate
is a checklist of content covered paired with expected, observable
sales behavior, and desired business results. As managers discover
what behaviors to look for and have available resources from the
class content and activities, they’re ready to “coach”
at every possible opportunity from listening in on a sales call
to participating in an on-site demonstration or assisting in negotiating
the final contracts.

Waiting until after sales training has been delivered to consider
how it will be implemented and who’ll be responsible for supporting
it doesn’t work. Insert the implementation conversation earlier
in the instruction design process and watch how quickly sales behaviors

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