The REAL Problem with Sales Training18

The Pipeline Guest Post – Jonathan Farrington

It seems that every week we are being told that sales training is not working in a very high percentage of cases – 85-90% was one statistic I read just yesterday

And actually I agree. In my opinion, hundreds of millions of dollars world-wide are wasted every year on irrelevant, unnecessary or inappropriate sales skills development. There are four obvious reasons ….

To begin with, the one off program may supply a short term motivational buzz and provide the delegate with a number of thought provoking ideas. However, in reality, once they are back at the “front-line”, the day to day pressures of hitting quota, etc. take over again and the reactive mindset returns.

Secondly, most – not all – but a very high percentage of courses on offer today deliver what I term “generalized” skills development.

For example, a person operating within the aerospace sector, negotiating multi-million pound contracts can find himself sitting next to a young saleswoman who markets insurance policies and is based in a call center. On her right is another person who is developing a successful career in manufacturing, selling hydraulic components and next to him…..I think
you will appreciate my point.

To achieve sustained success in all of these disparate industries requires specific skills sets and the “generalized” workshops simply cannot deliver them.

Thirdly, most – and again I would estimate it is at least 80% of – training organizations today make the assumption that all delegates are at the same level in terms of experience, expertise and have the same “commercial bandwidth”. This is of course, totally unrealistic.

Whilst it is not possible to equate age and experience with success, the reality is that, although some professional salespeople do have ten years’ experience, most have one year’s experience ten times! The very best salespeople – the ones that consistently exceed expectation, have usually received ongoing skills development from the “emerging” stage all the way through “advanced”, right up to “consultative” level if appropriate, but the keyword is “ongoing”

Finally – and this is the most significant and blatant error of judgment most Sales Directors make – every member of the team receives the same training, i.e.they are all dispatched off to the same course, regardless of whether or not they already have those skills or if indeed they need to have them in their current role.

The point here is that there is far too little planning, assessing and objective setting – it is much easier to abdicate responsibility to the training company… The downside to this approach is, of course, so much money is wasted!

So what is the answer? I don’t have all the answers, does anybody? But I have some of them, and I invite you to download the FREE white paper – registration is not required.

About Jonathan Farrington

Jonathan Farrington is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, consultant, and sales strategist, who has guided hundreds of companies and thousands of individuals around the world towards optimum performance levels. He is the CEO of Top Sales Associates, Chairman of The jf Corporation and the creator of topsalesworld.com, topsalesmanagement.com and the annual Top Sales & Marketing Awards. Jonathan is based in London and Paris.

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18 Comments

  1. Leanne Hoagland-Smith

    Jonathan, all your points are accurate. I would add another disconnect that prevents sales training from achieving a positive return on investment is a lack of alignment between the organization’s strategies, structure, processes/operations, incentives and people. Sales training is many times the wrong first solution because it does not address the real problem, but rather a symptom that being poor sales so let’s train our people.

    Leanne Hoagland-Smith

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