Sales Management, Sales Training

4 reasons why sales training today is broken

How often are you running sales training sessions? Maybe you’re doing it once a month, or once a quarter. Maybe you’re the sales manager leading the training scrambling for content at midnight the night before it kicks off or maybe you’ve hired an expensive consultant. You might feel good being able to tick the box that sales training is complete, but how much did it impact your team?

Because sales training is so infrequent we build up to a one-day training session and dump as much information as we can on our sales teams in 8 hours. Would we dump information on our sales prospect in one meeting then expect them to buy from us?  Of course not, they want information broken down for them at the right times when it’s useful. So why is our sales training treated differently? Here is why I believe sales training is broken in B2B companies today.

Are you using your most valuable training resource?

Common practice is for training to be run by someone who is in a senior role or external with ‘experience’,  but what sales professionals really want to do is learn from people who are doing their job successfully every day. 68% of reps say they would rather learn from their peers than anyone else when training. I’ve found this to be true in my experience. Sales professional crave to learn from someone who is doing the same job as them, who are performing well and achieving results.  That is what inspires them to improve.

Information overload

Because you’ve got 1 full day together and the cost of having every one of your team in the room combined with the small window of opportunity you have to make a difference tends to mean we throw as much information at the sales team as possible to make the best use of the time. But how much will sales people absorb in the training session and how much will they remember of it shortly after? Research on the forgetting curve shows that within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50 percent of the information you presented to them. Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70 percent of new information, and within  just a week, they have forgotten an average of 90 percent of it. So any form of classroom sales training has a very small impact on your teams development.

Young businessman giving presentation

Training is not frequent enough

If you do not work out regularly you get unfit, fat and out of shape, the same goes for sales training. I really believe sales training needs to be like a successful exercise routine, have a high frequency, be varied and be the right length for what your goals are. If training is just once a month or quarter your team will fall behind. Today’s world is fast-paced, your product, market, competitors and buyer are changing all the time. Your team need to be trained with short bursts of information every day/week to keep ahead of the game.

Classroom vs on the pitch

The classroom is not best for sales training as it is not practical and you can never recreate that same environment in the classroom. We learn more in sales by doing, the very best sales leaders I have worked with accept this and welcome it with open arms. To accept this means that you have to be comfortable knowing that your sales team are training on the job and that will have a short-term impact on new business results as they’re developing their skill.   Create an environment where it is ok to come away from a sales pitch knowing that it could have gone better or your rep can admit the chances of winning the deal are slim because of areas they need to improve. Reps who feel comfortable to do this will be much more comfortable to talk about where they need to learn and will develop much quicker.   As a leader try and not think about it as lost opportunity cost, try and think of it as the cost of training.

I hope this helps

One last thing.. Introducing #SalesShaketv

Sales Shake TV is launching in April to answer questions on all things sales, want to feature on the show email your questions here or tweet them to @TomLavery7 with the #salesshaketv

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