6 Most Common Sales Training Mistakes to Avoid at all Costs

picture of man avoiding traps of Sales Training Mistakes

Sales Training Mistakes Can Harm You and Your Team
Are you thinking about putting your sales force through customized sales training to boost sales skill levels and increase profitable revenue growth? That is a smart idea – sales talent accounts for 29% of the difference between high and low performing sales teams.  But beware of six common sales training mistakes that will hinder your ability to create a high performing sales team.

Six Ways Sales Training Can Go Wrong
Investing in sales training by itself can be a huge disappointment and a waste of your limited resources. We have learned a lot over our almost two decades of implementing hundreds of sales training initiatives. Here is our summary of the most common sales training mistakes organizations make as they roll out a sales training program.

  1. Unprepared Participants
    Business sales training is ultimately designed to change specific behaviors in order to increase sales performance. We know that people typically resist change unless there is a strong willingness and need to change. Make sure that you spend adequate time in preparing participants and gaining their understanding that behavior change is needed and why it is in their best interest.

    To start, share specifically how the sales training and targeted new sales skills will help them to achieve not only the overall sales strategy, but also their personal and professional goals within your unique sales culture and industry.

  2. Unprepared Sales Managers
    What happens after the sales workshop is as (if not more) important than what happens before and during the workshop. During a well-designed sales program, participants observe, absorb, and practice the critical few sales skills that will best help them to increase performance. But, unless participants are held accountable for and coached through the new sales behaviors by their sales manager, participants will quickly slip back into the old ways of doing things.

    Sales managers are the front-line leaders who need to be role-models and skilled sales performance coaches for the new sales behaviors and desired sales competencies. Ongoing reinforcement is the only way the individuals will reach new performance levels.  The good news is that sales reps who receive consistent sales coaching outperform their peers 4-to-1 in terms of quota attainment,

  3. Ineffective Sales Success Metrics
    Measurement is critical to sustaining behavior change and performance improvement. Start with defining the two to three sales metrics that you want to improve. Typical sales success metrics to consider include revenue, margin, win rate, portfolio mix, deal size, and cycle time.

    Once you know where you are headed from a business sales metric perspective, it is time to identify sales performance and learning success metrics that are directly linked to your sales business metrics. At the end of the day it is critical to measure if sales people are using the new sales skills and behaviors and if the on-the-job adoption is making a difference.

  4. Inadequate Top-level Support
    Senior sales leaders need to be on board with the entire sales initiative.  Not only must sales leaders model and encourage the right behavior changes, but they must also deftly balance holding people accountable and providing the support and resources to ensure sustained adoption.

    If you want the new sales skills and behaviors to stick, make sure that you have leadership “buy-in” for each and every change.  You will need top-down commitment for the sales training to succeed in transforming the way work gets done.

  5. Lack of Focus
    While it is exciting to invest in lifting sales team performance, beware of trying to do too much at once. You don’t want to overwhelm sales reps with too many new processes, practices, skills, or knowledge. From an instructional design perspective, if there is more content than practice and skill building, participants are unlikely to become more proficient.

    Make sure that you ruthlessly focus only on what matters most to the sales force, sales leadership, and your target clients.  You can always add other content areas as you learn and progress.

  6. Insufficient Customization
    Too many sales managers plug in their “pet” sales training program or sales methodology without fully appreciating the root cause of under performance or without creating full alignment of sales strategy and sales culture. No sales training program should be delivered until you are sure that you will develop the core selling skills required for your company, your solutions, your customers, your team, and their specific sales roles.

    Beware of generic sales training programs.  They will not move the sales needle and will most likely waste your time and money.

The Bottom Line
Ensure your sales training programs are a success by avoiding the six ways sales training can go wrong.  Done right, sales training should measurably transform your sales organization in a way that will consistently bring peak sales performance.

To learn more about taking your sales team to the next level, download How to Optimize Your Sales Force in the Face of Increased Performance Pressure

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