With the change in weather reminding us that the end of the year is edging closer and closer, many organisations are seeing the year-end sales targets slip further and further from their reach. So begins, for many L&D Managers, the mad scramble to find the ‘latest and greatest’ in sales training and the inevitable redirection of a significant portion of annual training budgets away from other much-needed learning and development initiatives.  But with this mad scramble for training, and funds, comes the inevitable question – is your sales training actually effective? Is it actually producing the increased sales performance, and long-term revenue growth that you need? And if it isn’t – why isn’t it? And what can you do about it? Here’s why your sales training may be failing, and how to ensure that the failing stops, and the selling starts:

Your training needs analysis has been inadequate

Many sales training programs try to take a one-size-fits all approach in that they make assumptions about the capability of the current team, and assume (or hope) that the training will be directly correlated with a certain percentage increase in sales.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  To ensure you avoid making this mistake, ensure that:  

  • You first establish the current capability of your team – preferably via psychometric testing – so you know what base you are working from, and to make sure that your team has the attributes to succeed in the first place,
  • You align the desired training outcome with an ongoing behavioural change, as opposed to a percentage point increase in sales.  This will allow you to measure if the training has been truly successful.  

You’ve taught only skills, and not knowledge, or vice-versa

It is not enough to teach skills and not knowledge, and vice-versa, it is not enough to teach knowledge, and not skills.  Your sales team speak to customers every day; so they need to strike the delicate balance between in-depth product knowledge, and savvy sales speak.  If your training misses either the former or the latter, you risk equipping your team with only half of what they need to succeed.  So when you’re designing training, ensure that you include training on both the how, and the what, of selling.  


You’ve failed to deliver training to those who really need it

Although many L&D Managers may be able to wrangle higher training budgets at the first hint of slowing sales, often this budget will not stretch far enough, and the organisation’s front line employees, especially if they aren’t permanent employees, will miss out on much-needed training.

However, these are often the employees that need training most.  Whilst they may not be permanent employees, casual sales assistants in retail stores, for example, can contribute tp a high percentage of overall company sales.  And although it may not be feasible to roster them off (and pay them) to attend sales training, a more flexible solution, such as mLearning, may provide the perfect platform for providing this type of training to remote or field based staff.

You’ve failed to make the learning stick

If you’ve properly analysed your training needs, included the right content in your training, and delivered it to those that need it most, your training should be successful, right? Unfortunately not.

Although many organisations plough all of their training dollars into the training event itself, up to 50% of training effectiveness is actually dependant on post-learning event activities. So to ensure your training has maximum effectiveness, make sure that you implement adequate support mechanisms, such as realistic KPIs, clear accountabilities, and bonus structures.  Also consider offering staff additional training where required through a JIT (Just-In-Time) platform, such as this one offered by Teazl.  

Changing behaviour to enable viable long-term changes in sales can be hard, but delivering training to try to enable that need not be.  Ensure that your sales program has the best ROI by conducting a thorough training needs analysis, teaching skills and knowledge, reaching those who need training most, and ensuring you invest in making the learning stick.  


Author : Janine Cahill

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