Why does the Sales Training Industry Need a Name Change?


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I’m sure, especially if you’re involved in sales training from either the buyer’s or the vendor’s side of the negotiating table, that you can think of tens of answers to the question that heads this post. But I’m going to confine my thoughts to just one. And the clue is inside the question, literally.

‘Sales Training’ does not do justice to what you’re asking the sales person and sales manager to do when you train them. If it did, you’d never contemplate ‘doing a bit of training’ again. When you train someone, you’re asking them to change their behavior. You’re asking them to step out of the comfortable shoes they’ve been wearing and put some stilts on. Sure, the view is better up there, but you don’t stay up very long and you need to work hard to get the hang of it, and then keep working at it until it feels like second nature to you. Easy to for me to say, easy for you to hear, but difficult to execute in practice. It’s a hit to your productivity in the short term, and one which you feel you can’t afford with the velocity of today’s business.

So, we’re really in the Sales Change Management industry, rather than the sales training industry. The former, when done properly, gives you a sustained, upward-trending curve, the latter just looks like someone’s ECG chart – a series of short expensive spikes interspersed with frustrating plateaus.

Improving sales performance is about changing people’s behaviors. Sometimes it’s just a refining process. Sometimes it’s a fundamental rethink and redo. Either way, if you don’t understand how to prepare for, execute and manage change, you’ll carry on just ‘doing a bit of training’ to weld the cracks together, when you could be building something so much better and stronger.

Managing change is what lies beneath all the programs, products and services that you can buy from sales training consultants and companies. It won’t come us a surprise to you that is it central to the processes inherent in our Dealmaker Sales Performance Automation platform. We’ve written a White Paper called ‘Sales Change Management’, which draws on some of the most insightful research on change management, and outlines what needs to be in place for sales change to stick. You’re free to download it from our website. I hope you’ll treat it as some January reading, as you think about 2011, plot your strategies, and hit the year with renewed vigor.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Donal Daly
Donal is Founder and CEO of The TAS Group the creators of the Dealmaker intelligent sales software application. Donal also founded Software Development Tools - acquired by Wall Data (NASDAQ: WALL), NewWorld Commerce, The Customer Respect Group and Select Strategies. Donal is author of five books including his recent #1 Amazon Bestseller Account Planning in Salesforce. He can be found on his blog at www.thetasgroup.com/donal-daly-blog or on Twitter @donaldaly


  1. Donal: great that you ask this question. When discussing sales training, I’ve frequently heard executives say, “Yeah, we tried that. What a complete waste of time!” or “We’d do it if we knew the ROI, but nobody will commit to a number!”

    One problem (or opportunity, depending on your view) is that training is a component of staff development, something which is notoriously weak in sales organizations. (“Steve was the top producer in the district last year, so we’re promoting him to manager!”).

    There’s much, much more involved in sales team development than training, so it’s completely understandable that most stand-alone sales training programs fail to deliver the value promised. What’s needed is for managers to change their view of what motivates salespeople, and what improvements are required to ensure their productivity.

    Training is part of the mix, but putting it in the context of staff development, and committing to the essence of what that means would benefit sales organizations and training providers alike.


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