Why sales training fails

Published by Andrea Day on

Why sales training fails

Table of contents

Companies spend a lot of time, effort and money on recruitment and onboarding. Recruitment firms can charge anywhere from 3% up to 25% of an employee’s salary. However, that’s not taking into account the internal time spent on recruiting and sales training.

Let’s say you’re hiring a large sales team across Europe. Taking into account the different markets, that’s an average salary of £80,00 per year. This means you could be spending between £3,000 and £20,000. Of course, this is a wide spectrum but there is no doubt that the cost of recruiting is high in terms of time spent, effort and fees. 

That’s why it’s a huge problem when sales training fails. You’ve just spent a small fortune in recruiting a great team but then they leave within a few months. Or, they may fail to learn and onboard so they fail their probation, which is a miserable experience for all. In order to get the ROI you need from recruitment, you need to address the training aspect as well. 

These are the main reasons why sales training fails.

No sales training budget

While organisations spend substantial budgets on recruitment, training and onboarding is often seen as ‘HR’s job’. This usually means there are limited or no existing resources available. The problem here is that while HR can train the employee on company policies, but little else. Simply, because they’re not qualified to train customer-facing employees on how to sell or how to interact with employees.

sales team training

Spending substantial money to recruit but then a pittance to train and onboard is a recipe for failure. Successful onboarding training isn’t run by HR necessarily. Rather it’s run by the sales teams themselves, who have the skills and have the necessary budget to ensure success. 

Limited customization

One of the biggest mistakes we see companies make is to deploy generic training. These off the shelf training programmes ‘teach’ generic sales techniques. For example, they might say ‘this is solution selling’ or ‘this is what you need to know about “GDPR”’.

The problem with this approach arises if you have a complex product, industry, or sales process. Generally, if you work in B2B tech, a generic approach won’t work for this reason.

Your sales teams need to be trained on your product, your customers and the way you sell. 

Even when you look at regulation, your salespeople don’t need to be experts on regulation. But they need to know how it applies to your product and sales process. 

Not human centred

One of the biggest reasons why sales training fails is that a lot of training doesn’t take the human being into account. Instead of focusing on how our brains actually work and how we consume information, they focus on what we should be doing. 

The approach is basically to ignore human behaviour and instead to pressure users to follow a set approach. A process geared towards the outcome, rather than interactions is easier to develop but it makes it easy to fail and penalises failure without incentivising success. 

This training often takes the shape of an employee handbook or multiple days loaded with demos and internal meetings. Little is learned, morale is crushed early and the employee starts to doubt the choice they’ve made.

Companies mean well but this approach doesn’t work. If you look at the way children are taught in school or at university, you can see how teaching has evolved. Over the last few decades teaching has been designed to help pupils and students retain information and learn. That’s how good business training should work.

The best training regimes are built with an understanding of how the end-user thinks and absorbs information. That’s why onboarding programmes based on behavioural science make sure that training is built with the human user in mind!

human centred training

People don’t use the training

It may seem blindingly obvious but sales training doesn’t work when people don’t use them. This is related to the point about behaviour above. If the training is too boring, people won’t do it. If the training overwhelms the user with too much information, then they won’t use it.

Essentially, there is a user experience associated with training. 

It needs to take human behaviour into account and be built to be engaging and easy to use. 

Sales training is critical to onboard salespeople quickly and efficiently. However, despite its importance, it’s often an afterthought following recruitment. And, that’s the biggest reason why sales training fails. 

There isn’t enough focus on onboarding and how to bring a new hire up to speed as quickly and efficiently as possible. The conventional approach of simply asking a new hire to shadow someone else isn’t fit for purpose. In reality, it can actually lead to bad habits being passed on from existing staff to new ones.

The other issue is a gradual loss of knowledge. In the absence of an onboarding ‘boot camp’ employees only ever learn what the person they shadowed decided to share with them.

Over time the company will experience a brain drain as older employees with the most knowledge will leave. And they’ll take all their knowledge with them.

A properly defined training programme that ensures everyone receives the same information prevents that from happening.

Straighten out your sales onboarding

At BAD, we design custom sales and onboarding training programmes to help you train your new hires, quickly, efficiently and expertly.

sales training

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