Sales Training Fails & Heres Why

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Klozers Sales Consulting Sales Training Fails & Heres Why

Sales Training Fails & Heres Why

Why Sales Training Fails


Why Sales Training Fails is a question which unfortunately comes up much more than it should.  Recently a new client revealed they had previously spent a six figure sum on a Sales Training program from a well known sales training company and failed to get any return on their investment.  Despite their disappointment, our client still spoke highly of the sales training company, the training material and the sales trainers who delivered the work.  Yet other than a short period of a feel good factor immediately following the training, positive changes in sales behaviors or sales results never materialized, and within 3 months they were back to square one, minus a lot of time, money and effort.


From our own experience and that of our clients, here are 10 reasons why Sales Training fails:

1)    Sales Training fails because some sales people simply do not like or want Change, and are firmly stuck in their comfort zones. Furthermore, placing these sales people in a room with sales people who do want to learn, negatively impacts the whole group.  Why do they not want to learn?  Well that could be any one of a hundred reasons, but the point is people will only learn when they want to.  Does that mean we just give up if our sales people don’t want to learn?  Absolutely not.  There are ways to engage sales people and whilst this is never easy, yes it is possible.

2)    Sales Training fails because it is generic and unless the company and the Sales Trainer can demonstrate the link between any theory to real world scenarios that sales people face, the training loses credibility and sales people disengage.  The ability to not only role play, but demonstrate new strategies and techniques live to the class is key.

3)    Sales Training fails because it is typically an “event” based activity, lasting 1 – 2 days or if you are lucky a week.  Accountants, Lawyers, Engineers, Architects, Technicians and Developers to name but a few, cannot be trained in weeks, so what makes people believe a “1 Day Sales Masterclass” will teach sales people everything they need to know?

4)    Sales Training fails because it is predominantly classroom based, and learning studies show people forget up to 89% of what they have been taught within one month. This means from a 2 day sales training course, less than two hours of learning is still retained after one month.  Alternately, Work Based Learning programs provide almost the opposite in terms of retention with people retaining up to 98% of knowledge learned over a 6 month period.

5)    Sales Training fails because new strategies and sales craft taught in the classroom are not reinforced by sales management.  This is primarily because Sales Managers find change just as difficult as sales people. Sales Managers on a daily basis need to reinforce the positive new sales behaviors until they become the new sales habits.

6)    Sales Training fails because sales people fail to take action. Strategy, Goals & Plans are great, but at some stage we need to take some Sales Actions and walk the walk, not just talk the talk.  In sales it is better to have tried and failed, than to have just talked about trying, because when you fail, you learn something.

7)    Sales Training fails because everyone gets back to the office and is busy.  Being busy is not the same as being effective, and being busy but not effective, was what delivered the sales results that led them to believe they needed sales training in the first place.  Get off the hamster wheel and stop doing what you have always done if you want different results.

8)    Sales Training fails because Business Owners and VP’s of Sales fail to make fully clear all roles, responsibilities, the expected performance and COMMITMENT of the Sales People to improve.  This then needs to be reviewed on a regular basis via an objective scorecard.

9)    Sales training fails because Business Owners and VP’s of Sales fail to remove all obstacles that are preventing sales people from hitting their targets.  Removal of even obstacles that are perceived by sales management as “excuses” are vital as this only serves to shine the light on the root causes of any problem.

10)  Sales training fails because Business Owners and VP’s of Sales are resilient and their ability to cope with under-performance stops them taking further action.  For some Sales Managers it is easier to keep a sales person who is under-performing, than go through the pain of trying to find a new sales person who can perform.


Sales Training absolutely can work, and can be highly effective in the correct circumstances, however, we usually find the more time and thought spent planning and preparing for any training the better the results.  An alternative method to increase sales performance would be to start by using a Sales Improvement Process.  A Sales Improvement Process may uncover a need for Sales Training, but it may also uncover other needs, that can have an even bigger impact if addressed.  Sales Training is only one of a number of different Sales Improvement tools and deciding the correct tools for each situation is the key to success.  Other Sales Tools you may consider are:

Sales Consulting for example, to review the Sales Strategy, Value Proposition or Sales Collateral.  Sales Training will have a limited impact if either the strategy, value proposition are off mark.

Sales Quality Assurance for example, to benchmark and replicate existing best Sales Practice within the company.  The best answers are always inside a company.  Documenting Best Sales Practice and creating a sales library that helps with knowledge transfer to both existing work colleagues and new starts is essential.  Sales Training does not capture all the good things that may already be in place.

Sales Coaching for example, to help with the reinforcement and accountability of new sales behaviors.  Coaching sales people on specific areas such as their Sales Pipeline produces tangible results with a demonstrable ROI.


A good Sales Improvement Process will provide a repeatable framework for success that the company can follow to make ALL the necessary adjustments for sales success.