4 Sales Training Pitfalls & How to Avoid Them


Winning teams are always looking for ways to improve.  For sales organizations, that means investing in sales training and sales coaching programs.

Many such companies who have made the switch to training in Customer Aligned Selling and have seen improvements in their results; though some haven’t seen as dramatic an increase in sales as they had hoped.  These “good, but I was hoping for better” results can generally be attributed to a handful of missed opportunities in how the training is executed and how what it teaches is implemented afterward.

Here are four of the most common sales training pitfalls, and what you can do to avoid them:

1.  Choosing the wrong feedback framework, or none at all.

Most sales managers track sales closed, but don’t monitor the more exact details of how their reps are performing in the field – from prospecting to meeting with the decision maker.  To use a sports analogy, this is like having a football coach (a losing one) who just tells his players to do whatever they have to do to score touchdowns and never addresses how to get better at blocking and tackling.

A winning coach focuses on the activities that lead to more yards-per-down, which in turn leads to more first downs and touchdowns.  Likewise, sales organizations need a coach who will focus on the process that achieves the results they want on an ongoing basis.  A coach who can make sales calls with reps – or observe the sales manager coaching reps – and can analyze performance and give feedback immediately, instead of waiting until the end of the month or quarter.

2.  Little or no repetition.

To minimize the time it takes reps out of the field, most sales training is designed to be as compact as possible and incorporates little or no repetition.  This especially true of one-off training sessions.  But to quote David Sandler using his classic book title, “You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar.”  In other words, a one-time seminar does not lead to long-term change.

Sequenced repetition is proven to deliver the most consistent results.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hold seminars; it simply means the training can only take hold if it incorporates and is followed up with repetition, repetition, repetition.  Just as sports organizations know regular practice and coaching is essential to winning, world-class sales organizations know ongoing training and coaching is critical to their success.

3.  Using a one-size-fits-all approach.

Most of the time, training is designed more to suit the venue or the presenter than the attendees.  But effective training is designed to teach and deliver content according to the different ways people learn.  Some learn from hearing a lecture, while some are visual learners.  Many people learn best by doing and need role-playing to absorb a concept.  The best training uses Whole Brain® learning to incorporate all these methods and achieve maximum results for every participant.

4.  Not involving all the right people.

I’ve written before about why management must attend and participate in any sales training, or the time and money they spend on it is wasted.  There is one other key player who is usually left out: Operations.

A disconnect between the sales department and the operations department is one of the most common and undiagnosed obstacles to an organization’s success.  In working with sales teams, I frequently uncover operational issues that are counterproductive to serving the customer.  Unfortunately, these often go unaddressed, which sometimes results in losing customers.

Operations managers don’t generally interact with customers on a regular basis and tend to see situations only from their own perspective.  But they need to know that your sales reps are following the Platinum Rule of sales, the second half of which applies to operations:

“…Then deliver your products/services the way I [the customer] want to experience them, not how you want to deliver them.”

Exposing operations to Customer Aligned Selling™ will show them the customer’s perspective.  It provides an opportunity for the sales and operations teams to discuss where there are strengths and weaknesses in how the customer is served, and to come up with mutually agreeable ways to resolve problems.  Operations must be aligned with sales to achieve the transformation that is critical to the company’s success.

If you are choosing sales training, make sure to avoid these common mistakes.  If you implement these methodologies in your training, you will meet their quotas and grow your business because your customers will become repeat buyers and raving fans who refer more business to you.

Ready to take your training and coaching game to the next level?

I offer several training options ranging from monthly, self-paced learning to customized, in-house courses and topic-specific workshops design to address your organizations unique challenges.  Contact me for a free needs assessment or request a do-it-yourself questionnaire designed to identify where your team’s greatest opportunities are.  Email me today!


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