Avoid The Eight Most Common Sales Training Blunders


Sales training is a fairly common endeavor, but many companies do not get much of a return on their investment. Despite the lofty aspirations of executives and managers, sales training, when conducted improperly, is simply another means of squandering time and resources. Here are the eight most common sales training blunders:

1) “Homegrown” training, instead of hiring a professional firm. In-house programs are typically created by someone with insufficient knowledge of adult learning theory and models.

2) Training on product. The flawed assumption behind this approach is that product knowledge is the equivalent of sales training; that, if an associate understands how the product works, then by default, she will know how to sell it. Product training and sales training are not synonymous. One will not eliminate the need for the other.

3) No reinforcement. Many companies will do one training session—half a day, two days, or a week—with no follow-up, and expect miracles.

4) No pre-assessment. Steve may struggle with prospecting; Jane with asking questions. A truly beneficial sales training program will address the unique needs of every individual. Many programs also fail to diagnose—not to mention remedy—a team member’s lack of interpersonal skills. This is a common mistake.

5) Unprepared facilitators. Firms will often assign a great sales person to lead a program, but the fact that Jill is an excellent sales person does not mean she is a competent trainer. Conversely, a good trainer is not always well-versed in the field of sales.

6) Rushed training. It is virtually impossible to conduct a thorough sales training program in one morning session. Sales training must be given due time. Long-term development is a time-consuming, but highly-beneficial process.

7) Sales training is not important. If executives and managers are not fully supportive of the program, no one else will be. If the VP of sales couldn’t care less about the sales training program, why should the sales managers, and why should the sales reps?

8) Lack of customization. An off-the-shelf program may demonstrate good intentions, but that’s about all it will be good for. Sales managers and reps are interested in and will learn from what is relevant. They should never wonder, “How does this relate to me?”

Companies that invest in a professional, well-designed sales training program avoid these common pitfalls and, more often than not, reap significant rewards.

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