6 Ways Sales Training Can Go Wrong

Ways Sales Training Can Go Wrong

There Are Many Ways Sales Training Can Go Wrong
Are you thinking about putting your sales force through customized sales training to boost their sales skill levels and increase your revenues? Beware of the obstacles and the many ways sales training can go wrong on the way to your goal of a high performing sales team.

Sales Training Can Be a Waste of Time and Money
Investing in sales training by itself can be a huge disappointment and a waste of your 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 mistakes organizations make as they roll out a sales training program.

Six Ways Sales Training Can Go Wrong
There are six sales training traps to avoid if you want your training initiative to succeed…and why wouldn’t you?

1. Unprepared Participants
Business sales training is ultimately designed to change specific behaviors in order to increase desired 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.

Share specifically how the sales training and new skills will help them to:

  • Achieve their personal and professional goals
  • Learn proven principles for more effective selling, i.e., building relationships, uncovering customer needs, articulating value, overcoming resistance, negotiating effectively, etc.
  • Practice and become proficient at the critical few sales scenarios that matter most for their success

2. Unprepared Sales Managers
What happens after the sales workshop is as (if not more) important as 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 revenues, margins and win-rates. But, unless they are held accountable for and coached through the new sales behaviors, they 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.

3. Ineffective Sales Success Metrics
Measurement is critical to sustaining both sales training and sales  results. Start with defining the two to three business metrics that you want to improve. Typical business sales success metrics include:

  • Revenue
  • Margin
  • Win rate
  • Portfolio mix
  • Deal size
  • Sales cycle

Once you know where you are headed from a business perspective, it is time to identify sales performance and sales learning success metrics linked to your business metrics. At the end of the day, make sure that you can measure if sales people are using the new sales skills and behaviors and if they are making a difference.

4. Inadequate Top-level Support
Senior sales leaders need to be on board with the sales initiative.  Not only to model and encourage the behavior changes but also to hold people accountable while providing the support and resources to ensure long-term adoption. Make sure 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 sales team and in building the business.

5. Lack of Focus
Beware of trying to do too much at once. You don’t want to overwhelm sales reps with too many 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 the company as a whole.

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 with the overall sales strategy or 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 sales roles.

The Bottom Line
Ensure your sales training programs are a success by avoiding the six ways sales training can go wrong and by transforming your sales organization in a way that will bring peak 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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