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Monika Götzmann

Miller Heiman Group UK Ltd.

EMEA Marketing Director

Read more from Monika Götzmann

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Why Your Sales Training Will Fail


Improving the performance of a sales team is a key objective for many businesses and, as a result, a huge amount of money is invested into sales coaching. In fact, according to figures published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, total global spending on this type of training has now exceeded the $1 trillion mark.

However, while this level of investment suggests a keen desire to improve the skill levels of employees and boost performance, many businesses are failing to get results. Forbes recently pointed out that despite the extra investment, the number of sales reps who attain quota has remained at 50 percent for decades.

Here, we take a look at why this increased investment is failing to yield the desired results and, more importantly, explain why your sales training programme is destined to fail as well.

The Focus on Motivation

Many businesses are under the mistaken belief that the problems with their sales team boil down to a simple lack of motivation. The inevitable result of this line of thinking is that they invest more and more of their training budget into getting outside 'motivational speakers' to come in and rally the troops.

Clearly, this is too simplistic an approach, as an increase in employee motivation alone will not address knowledge gaps or change problem behaviours. Moreover, motivation is a deeply personal concept, so most motivational speakers are simply unable to inspire a whole team of people to do anything.

"Motivation is an internal force," says Marcus Cauchi, award-winning sales management trainer for Sandler. "Perhaps you can inspire as a speaker, but unless a salesperson finds their own reason why they are doing what they are doing every day, you may as well be pushing water uphill."

Classroom Style Training

Another major problem with most sales-based training programmes is the way that training is provided. Research has repeatedly shown that carrying out training in a classroom-like environment generates a poor return on investment, due to the poor knowledge retention rates associated with this approach.

You can invest in the most expensive, comprehensive classroom training around, but the odds remain firmly stacked against you. Studies show that most information presented in this setting is lost within two weeks, while Qvidian's Sales Execution Trends Report tells us that 87 percent of all training content is forgotten within 30 days.

So how can you improve this retention rate? LearnCore report that ROI on training is quadrupled when that training is provided 'in the field', with constant reinforcement. As such, this means that coaching sales reps is a continuous process and part of the working day, rather than a quick fix, provided in a three hour seminar.

Poor Management

Finally, one of the biggest problems with sales rep training is that it does nothing to address a major cause of poor sales team performance - mismanagement. In a huge number of cases, sales reps who are failing to reach their potential are being badly led or badly managed by their superiors.

A strong sales team leader should:

  • Regularly review employee performance
  • Work with reps to set realistic, achievable, personal goals
  • Listen to any problems and take action to address these quickly

Failure to carry out the basic requirements of team leadership cannot be solved by putting sales reps into a room with a charismatic, well-intentioned outside trainer. First and foremost, companies need to address internal issues and make sure their leaders are doing their part to get the most out of the sales team.

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Monika Götzmann

EMEA Marketing Director

Read more from Monika Götzmann

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