Why Sales Training Fails

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 28th, 2010

Sales organisations of all types spend a huge amount on training their sales people each year. Research shows, however, that most training has little impact in the long term. Here we look at what needs to be done to make sure training works - and the new generation of training approaches.

If you?ve ever wondered why your sales teams struggle to consistently achieve sales targets despite investment in sales training, development and management, you?re not alone.

Despite their best efforts most organisations are failing to achieve their full potential from sales training due to four main reasons;

1. Most sales training has at best a short-term effect on performance because of a failure to consistently implement, apply and reinforce what is learnt.

2. Sales managers (often top sales achievers themselves) lack a proven methodology to be truly effective at getting top performance from their sales team.

3. Salespeople often find it difficult to maintain the correct balance between prospecting, presenting, negotiating, closing and client nurturing which can lead to sales ?feast and famine? and lost opportunities.

4. Sales leaders and managers find it hard to run sales meetings and sales training sessions that are relevant, motivational, and impactful for both highly experienced and inexperienced salespeople at the same time.

So how do sales leaders address these critical issues of skill and knowledge if 'traditional' sales training approaches simply can't offer the level of flexibility and interaction needed to embed learning? The answer lies in designing and providing a new generation of development toolkits which sales managers can use with their teams. These toolkits can give the manager total flexibility to address the specific development needs of his or her team based on the situation at the time. In addition, they should provide the opportunity for a high degree of team interaction as well as best practice learning materials which can be delivered in a fun, energetic and bite sized fashion.

Global oil giant, Shell, amongst others, is at the forefront of using such systems to empower their field sales managers using a new system called 'The Sales Activator®'. The creators of The Sales Activator® say it has been specifically designed to address the critical shortcomings of 'traditional' sales training. It's a self contained system which gives the sales manager the tools, framework and learning content to take charge of their sales team's development on an ongoing basis.

Commenting on Shell's experience of using The Sales Activator® to overcome the weaknesses of sales training, Elza Muller - Learning and Development Manager at Shell - says; "People learn without realising and get the added benefit of learning from additional input from delegates who have years of experience. It can be done as and when there is a team meeting - no extra resource is required. The coaching role can be shared across teams, within teams spreading the skill of coaching [and] the business manager is present dealing with the system and context issues around training."

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
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