Top 6 Reasons Why Most Sales Training Doesn't Work

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 @ 21:06 PM

If you invest in sales training, especially now, you also need it to work now, not in 12 months.  Why does it take so long for most sales training to make a difference and why does most sales training fail to make the difference you expect? There are a lot of possible reasons and I'll attempt to explain them here.

  • Sales trainers want to sell sales training so they skip or gloss over the more important issues like
This is why it's so important to work with a sales development expert - someone who takes an integrated, thoughtful approach to the sales force.
  • Sales training is too difficult to understand and apply and trainers make it even more difficult with their complicated processes, non-intuitive tactics and tricks. Instead, they should make it as simple as possible by making it memorable, intuitive, and easy to apply. 
  • They tend to demonstrate their strategies and tactics through role play, which is fine, but their role plays demonstrate more tactics than what they have already taught.  They should never include more in the role play than their audience has learned from them.  Here is an example.  You take a seven year old to the movies.  If it's an age appropriate movie, rated G or PG, all of the previews are age appropriate and the seven year-old gets it - all of it.  However, if you take the seven year-old to a PG-13 movie, then the previews are a bit overwhelming. The seven year-old can tell you whether it seems exciting, funny or scary, but the seven year-old doesn't understand the theme, content or mature dialog. They haven't been exposed to that stuff yet.  Same thing with your salespeople.  If the trainer has already exposed them to the basics, and includes only the basics in role play, the salespeople get it.  It's age appropriate.  But if the trainer includes material that the salespeople haven't been exposed to, they can only tell you whether they like it or it seems scary.  The role play is a bit overwhelming because they haven't been exposed to that stuff yet.
  • Some of the sales trainers just aren't that good. They fail to relate, engage, understand, entertain and change the salespeople they are training.
  • Much of the content isn't that good.  Some of it is just plain outdated while much of the other content around isn't complete, only focusing on certain parts of the sales cycle.
  • Some of them only know strategies and tactics but they don't understand the laws of cause and effect.  They can't get to the real reasons why salespeople fail to execute the strategies and tactics.

There are at least as many more reasons but this article is already longer than it should be.  We'll just call it part 1 and I'll circle back with part 2 at a later date.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales leadership, Sales Tactics, sales management training, sales evaluation, sales trainers, Selling System, sales strategy, selling skills, sales test

Sales Experts Disagree on Right Way to Train Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 15, 2009 @ 05:05 AM

I was involved in a nearly week long, on line discussion with about a half dozen other sales experts in the Top Sales Experts Group at LinkedIn that to date has included about 41 volleys.  The original question, raised by the UK publisher of, asked whether there was a right way or a wrong way to train salespeople.  While there was some agreement on some points, there was much disagreement on many points.

Most of the agreement centered around secondary factors such as multiple sales roles in larger companies and the fact that some of those roles required that only certain steps of the selling process be utilized.  There was agreement around the importance of the right trainer, an adult learning model, alignment of systems, processes, strategies and selection, and the role of sales management.  But, when you look closely, the areas where there was agreement only support or influence the training of salespeople - but they are not the actual training.

The major area of disagreement were over methodology. What a surprise!

One faction supports consultative selling (my Book and popular methodology, Baseline Selling, is aligned with consultative selling), while the other supports a buyer facilitation model (they call it customer-centric) which is based on trust.  Now, I'm all for trust.  You must have trust!  Trust is an essential component of Baseline Selling.  But the buyer-facilitation fanatics (very few compared with supporters of the consultative model) insist that you can't develop trust/credibility when salespeople start asking questions to uncover compelling reasons.   If I had to describe the ineffective selling methods that most of my clients used before I was brought in to help, it would be so closely aligned with the buyer facilitation model that you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference.  And if the buyer facilitation model was so effective, why does the significant change in pipeline and revenue come from the changeover to a more consultative model?

I'm sure we'll hear about it in the comments.

I respect others' opinions on methodology - these people are experts in selling and they believe in what they are doing and saying.  All good. It makes for interesting discussion. It's much like the nutrition community. One expert says low fat, low protein, lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables is the way to healthy eating. Another expert says you are fat because you are eating grains and carbohydrates so you need to eat lots of healthy protein - grass fed red meat and avoid grains and carbs. And others still say a balanced diet of all the basic food groups, yada, yada, yada.

The other major area of disagreement was over sales assessments - an area where I am the established expert. When it comes to sales assessments, I can't believe how misinformed even some of the sales experts are about this subject.  Some believe they aren't accurate, others believe they are illegal, some believe that the choices in assessments are limited to $7 tests, and many have been fooled by the marketing of personality and behavioral styles assessments.  If you are among those who don't know, haven't cared, haven't looked or haven't used the right assessment for your sales force and for sales selection, simply read this series of articles. It isn't that complicated!  While personality and behavioral styles assessments are very much apples to apples, oranges don't have worm holes.  Evaluate your sales force with the orange of the assessment industry, Objective Management Group's sales force evaluation and hire salespeople using their proprietary process and Sales Candidate Assessment and you can't go wrong.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales trainers, sales tests, sales assessments, personality test, personality assessment

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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