"There has to be a better way to handle sales training." If you’ve had this thought... keep reading. This article explores why sales training can fail and key actions you can take to ensure a successful outcome.
Here are Five of the Most Common Reasons Sales Training Fails
1. Cookie-Cutter Sales Training
A one-size-fits-all approach fails to meet individual sales reps' unique needs and challenges. Sales reps participating in such training complain that generic content is outdated and does not help with their unique challenges or industry-specific demands. Consequently, no actionable strategies resonate with the sales team, leading to suboptimal performance and higher turnover rates.
2. The Comfort Zone Conundrum
One significant obstacle in effective sales training is the resistance to change exhibited by salespeople. Many sales professionals remain within their comfort zones, unwilling to adapt to new methodologies or embrace innovative sales techniques. Organizations must identify the root causes of this resistance to overcome this challenge. Conducting a thorough assessment of individual and team-level readiness to change will provide valuable insights into addressing this issue.
3. Lacking of Cohesive Strategy
Without a cohesive strategy, sales training feels random, disjointed, and fragmented, leading to a "Here we go again" attitude toward sales training. A lack of cohesive strategy in sales training creates confusion and inconsistency and hampers the ability to measure and track progress accurately. To achieve effective sales training, it is essential to identify the specific skills that need improvement while ensuring every team member is aligned with the overarching strategy and equipped to execute it effectively.
4. Lack of Ongoing Support
Sales leaders are often stretched thin with their sales responsibilities, managing teams, meeting targets, and handling various operational tasks. Finding the time to reinforce training consistently can be challenging. In some cases, it's a lack of resources. In others, it's a lack of focus and priorities. Without a clear continuous support structure, sales leaders will struggle to ensure sales reps consistently apply the skills learned during training.
5. Need for Accountability
When there is a lack of clear accountability, sales leaders may not set specific training goals and expectations for sales reps. As a result, reps do not fully understand the importance of training or the specific skills they need to develop. Then when sales objectives are not achieved, there is plenty of "finger-pointing" and "passing the buck." Clear expectations, well-defined roles, regular performance evaluations, and supportive leadership are all factors that contribute to positive outcomes for sales training.
Overall, good intentions can have negative consequences when sales training is ineffective. When the training initiative feels random and generic, sales reps become demotivated and dissatisfied, leading to reduced training engagement. Poor sales training can create a cycle of underperformance, decreased employee satisfaction, and missed growth opportunities. But it does not have to be that way. Sales training can be the game-changing difference-maker every sales leader craves.
And Here are the Most Effective Sales Training Solutions
To develop a world-class sales training program, sales leadership must dedicate focused effort, especially during the planning and implementation phase. The key to success is to provide salespeople with practical skills rather than theoretical knowledge. This is only achieved by documenting the process, providing best practices, and creating specific sales training content. Sales training is more than knowledge exchange because it requires behavior change. Behavior change for adults is complicated—just ask anyone who tried to resist doughnuts in the breakroom. We know what we need to do, but executing consistently is key to success.
Customized content by sales role ensures the training provides specific strategies at a granular level. This demonstrates how each role applies the skills in their specific environment. Customized content is more engaging for sales reps due to its increase in relevance. It speaks directly to their sales challenges, capturing their attention and encouraging active participation in the training process.
Open Communication Between Leaders and Learners
Open communication sets the expectations and objectives of the sales training program. When leaders openly communicate the learning goals, sales reps understand what is expected of them and can align their efforts accordingly. Sales reps are more likely to actively participate in discussions, ask questions, and share their experiences, enhancing the learning experience. Open communication fosters feedback, helping leaders identify areas of improvement. When leaders actively listen to sales reps' concerns and needs, it establishes a positive relationship, encouraging open dialogue and cooperation.
Reinforcement. Reinforcement. Reinforcement.
It's a fact that without a proper reinforcement initiative in place, up to 87% of new knowledge and skills learned in sales training will be lost within 90 days. Reinforcement ensures that the information learned during training stays fresh in the minds of sales reps. Regularly revisiting key concepts and techniques helps reinforce memory and understanding.
Reinforcement can be accomplished with mobile technology allowing sales reps quick access to training materials and refresher courses. The more sales reps practice and apply what they have learned, the more confident they become in their abilities. This confidence translates to improved performance and higher customer engagement. By implementing reinforcement strategies, sales leaders can ensure that sales training has a lasting impact, leading to improved sales performance and developing a high-performing sales team.
You don't need to be a 'natural born salesperson' to be successful in sales. High-performance selling is not a set of inborn skills that drives success. It's acquiring and developing specific skills and behaviors that lead to predictable outcomes. Additionally, any sales professional can acquire these skills. It simply requires training.
For many organizations, sales training can be frustrating and ineffective. For others, it can lead to clear competitive advantages and growth. Companies that adopt a structured approach, provide customized content by role, foster open communication, and provide robust reinforcement outperform companies that treat training as a once-a-year event. With steadfast dedication, sales training is the transformative bridge between lofty aspirations and tangible real-world results.