Are You Looking at Sales Training Strategically?


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At ESR, when sales training doesn’t work, we look at the reasons. Here are some predominant ones that we see at ESR:

  • inadequate (or lack of) requirements definition
  • inadequate funding
  • lack of executive buy-in
  • not understanding what skill gaps each member of the sales team has
  • engaging with the wrong training company for any reason
  • engaging with the right training company for the wrong reasons
  • not having a sales methodology in place before the training takes place
  • delivering irrelevant training content (e.g. not using examples based upon real customer experiences)
  • training delivery and medium not designed for effective adult learning
  • no post-program reinforcement
  • not including other departments where appropriate
  • not providing first-line sales management with training and a formal process for coaching the reps
  • not having appropriate technology support for learning and sales enablement
  • not having the right people in selling and managing positions
  • not having a measurement process in place for real-time feedback on what’s working and what isn’t
  • not having specific learning objectives in place
  • using a one-size fits all approach for content development
  • management doesn’t participate in training
  • not having tools available for immediate use (cold-calling scripts and ROI models, as examples)
  • no thought has been paid to the behavioral changes required for sales performance improvement.

What do all these have in common? They are symptoms of taking a tactical approach to sales performance improvement.

To put it simply, if sales training is managed it tactically, it isn’t going to work. That’s nothing new.

Do you look at sales training tactically or strategically? Take this test, answering true or false for each question:

  1. I can state most of the learning objectives of the next three training sessions, since specifics have already been determined.
  2. We track leading performance indicators that warn us early on about discrepancies between what individual sales people should be doing and what they are doing.
  3. We have an institutionalized, ongoing coaching program in place for sales reps and their managers to assure compliance with appropriate behaviors and actions.
  4. Ongoing sales effectiveness is seen by our CEO as critical for achievement of corporate goals and objectives and is funded as such.
  5. We have ongoing investments in relevant technology to support effective learning and selling.
  6. Flexibility, ease of learning, and coach-ability are three among many capabilities we test for as part of our hiring methodology.
  7. We employ a carefully balanced blended learning approach for our salespeople including pre-testing, live sessions, virtual training, and appropriate reinforcement.
  8. We understand that behavioral change is hard and have the right plans and resources to assure success.
  9. We have a clear understanding of what sales training content should be in-sourced and what should be outsourced.
  10. We re-assess customer and market buying characteristics regularly and those assist us in determining our training requirements.

If you have answered “false” to more than five of these items, you’ve got some serious work to do.

If you’d like more on ESR’s strategic approach to sales training, download our my eBook: The 7 Pitfalls of Sales Training & 7 Solutions for Sustained Success, available via a free download (registration required).

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Stein
Dave specializes in helping his clients win critical B2B sales opportunities as well as helping them hire the best sales talent.Dave is co-author of Beyond the Sales Process. He wrote the best-selling How Winners Sell in 2004.


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