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VOL. 131 | NO. 209 | Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lori Turner

Lori Turner-Wilson

Why Sales Training Doesn’t Work


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Imagine you’re a football player and your coach shows you a new play by drawing it out on the white board. He asks you to execute the play in the next big game without ever practicing it. What is your likelihood for success? It’s likely very low, even if you’re an elite athlete, because elite athletes earn that moniker through hour upon hour of practice.

Likewise, our successful execution of new sales skills naturally requires substantial practice before consistent and flawless behavior change can be expected.

Most sales training that is delivered has little, if any, built-in rehearsal and measurement. Remember this. Training without coaching is simply a motivational talk. Your sales team deserves more.

Apply these five strategies to ensure your next sales training effort actually moves the needle.

Help your team see how the training can boost their ability to close more and better deals quickly. Salespeople are naturally focused on what can help them close deals in the near-term. They are much more likely to embrace training that has a direct effect on their outcomes versus content that is less pragmatic. One sure-fire way to make your case is to teach a single high-performer the new skills well in advance of group training, giving him or her time to apply what they’ve learned, so you can show the team how the new skills moved the needle.

Show them what ideal performance looks like. Take a couple of top performers – in advance of your training – and video them role-playing the new sales skills flawlessly. Play this video during training. Showing versus telling somehow how to do something can greatly improve outcomes, as what you say is open to a variety of interpretations.

Armed with a clear picture of what successful implementation of the new skills looks like, your sales team is ready to engage in role-play. Consider building into your training workshop at least as much time for skill development as you do for the actual presentation of content. Consider this your scrimmage before the big game.

Plan in advance for in-the-field coaching – ideally weekly for several weeks after the training – until you are convinced that long-term behavior change is consistently occurring across your sales team.

Determine your success metrics upfront. Tell your team in training how you’re going to measure their ability to effectively and consistently deploy the new skills learned, and then follow through.

If the thought of carving out enough time for these supporting activities is overwhelming, consider partnering with a sales training and coaching partner that lives and breathes this approach. If all you have time for is classroom training with none of the follow through, save your energy and resources until you can do it right. You’ll be glad you did.

Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO and founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at redrovercompany.com.

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