Top 10 Reasons Why Most Sales Training Doesn’t Work

By Victoria


Sales Training

If you are going to invest in training for your business it;needs to bring results and lead to long term change.

Unfortunately, most sales training programs are doomed to fail from the beginning with as much as 85% to 90% of training programmes leading to no lasting impact after 120 days.

Rather than throwing money down the drain businesses need to see lasting change - not a quick fix for a couple of months and then back to old habits.

There are many practical reasons for training not working out but if you can avoid some of the most common mistakes you are setting yourself up for some fantastic results.

This blog will help you understand the common reasons why your sales training isn't working and identify some of the main things you should focus on to achieve long lasting results.

So with no further ado here are our Top 10 reasons Why Most Sales Training Doesn't Work:

1. Lack of preparation

Before you commit to any training, you need to have clearly defined outcomes.

What does your business want to get out of the training? What exactly is it that you looking to improve? Have you tried similiar initiatives before? What worked and what didn't?

Think about what you are looking to get out of the training and list the top 5 reasons your business needs it.

2. Focus on developing skills rather than knowledge

Don’t just focus on sales skills. It’s just as important to deliver sales knowledge ensuring your team can confidently talk about:

  • your company and products and services 
  • how you can help the customer
  • your competition

Remember the key objective of good training is that it helps improve performance. Too often businesses think about learning new ways of doing things rather than focusing on educating their sales team.

3. Individual talents and strengths are ignored

Think about who needs the training and why. It’s crucial to consider the capabilities of your team. Who are the high fliers? Is there someone who could benefit from intensive training who could in turn train other staff? Sometimes it’s better to invest time and money training smaller numbers of people, as they can then share their experiences. The most important thing is that you know how the training will benefit the people in your firm rather than simply going through the motions and rolling out the training for everyone.

4. No clear methodology

It’s fantastic that you are investing in training, however, you also need to make sure the training is relevant. For a training programme to be successful it needs to be well thought out and have a clear breakdown of all the key elements being covered both pre and post training.

Think about how the training will be put into practise and ensure the training is delivered in a way to suit your audience. For example, not all training needs to be group based, as time may be better spent focused on a particular skill on a one-on-one basis instead.

5. The trainer doesn’t understand the company and/or the sales roles

Getting a trainer who understand your business and the challenges your sales team face is essential. Your staff being trained need to have faith in their trainer. Likewise the trainer needs to understand the jargon and your business environment.

Don’t simply pick a trainer based upon what they are going to deliver. Assess their fit for your business and their ability to engage and develop rapport with your team. The training content may be spot on but if the trainer isn’t the right fit, it just won't work.

6. The training isn't engaging

Let’s face it, we have all been to training events which have been boring and a waste of time. There is nothing worse for a business than investing time in training and at the end of it all you feel you have learnt nothing new.

Training should be enlightening and fun. But most importantly it needs to be practical and allow people to put their newly learnt skills into practice.

Think also about the style of delivery. For example, most people hate role-plays and yet they are nearly always included in training. Why? They don’t need to be. It’s much better to use real life discussions and work examples which people can learn from.

7. The training is too long

Successful training doesn't have to be delivered over full days. Sometimes it's much more effective to deliver training in one hour sessions to ensure you get everyone's attention and focus in on one key topic.

It's also easier to apply training practically when it's delivered over a regular period rather than as a one off exercise. Remember the training needs to benefit you and your team, rather than fitting into the most cost efficient manner for your training provider.   

8. No post training support

Good training doesn’t end when the workshop or session finishes.

It is just as important to re-enforce key learnings once the training has finished. No matter how good or positive it was there will always be questions and most people need to start applying their newly learnt skills before they realise what those questions are.

Think of it like learning to drive. Learning the theory is one thing but it’s not until you get out on the road and actually start driving that you realise it will take a lot of practice.

Focus on providing regular post training support with plenty of opportunity for questions and you will get much better engagement and results.

9. No evaluation

It’s crucial that you get feedback on the training in terms of what worked well and what didn’t. Getting feedback on the actual training delivery is only a small part of the evaluation process. Yes it’s important to get feedback on the trainer and content, but other aspects are even important.

Did sales performance improve? What measures have you in place to check success? Was your money well spent? Could you have done things differently/better? Are you getting more leads? Are you selling more?

If you don’t evaluate you can’t measure the impact of the training on your sales.

10. Choice of Training provider

There are lots of things to consider when selecting your training provider. We have already discussed the importance of getting the right trainer who knows and understands your business. Think of their approach to scoping and developing the training as well. Training providers need to invest time understanding your business and immersing themselves in your culture.

Consider also the cost and don’t just go for the cheapest option. Think about what you are getting for your money. Will the provider spend time onsite to help develop the training? Will they provide post training support? Off the shelf training may be cheaper in terms of the initial purchase but it won’t deliver the results of bespoke training.

So that’s our "Top 10 Reasons Why Most Sales Training Doesn’t Work". But let’s be positive! That doesn’t mean all training will fail! Provided you follow some clear guidelines your investment, both in terms of time and money, can deliver some fantastic results.

So, You Need Sales Training?

At Enlighten IC we are passionate about delivering training which can actually help solve a problem! None of our training programmes are “off the shelf” programmes. Instead we spend a lot of time understanding the real issues our clients are trying to solve before we put together a customised training solution.

We don’t believe in lengthy training programmes for the sake of it and prefer short, sharp, practical sessions with a focus on how the training can be implemented into the persons role.

Training is an invaluable part of your sales toolkit, provided it is motivating and relevant and should never be looked at as a tick in the box exercise.

I would love to here your views and how you approach training in your business? Perhaps you have a few example of what has really worked well at your firm or even a few that didn't quite go according to plan? Feel free to add your comments below or share with your social networks using the links above.    

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you with your training needs, please get in touch.

Victoria Enlighten IC


Victoria is commercial director of Enlighten IC and following a successful career in sales working for the likes of DELL Computers, she joined the firm to head up the sales and training division. Victoria sees it as her mission to ensure as many leads as are humanly possible convert into new clients

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