How to Put Your Sales Training Program Into Action

A sales training program is usually delivered in the same general manner: fly to a centrally located city, lock yourself in a hotel conference room for three days, discuss lots of great ideas and process improvements to re-energize and motivate the team.

Now the entire team is ready to head out into the field and spit in the face of failure and close twice their typical deal flow. Motivation is at an all-time high!

Sound familiar? Personally, I have been to a dozen or more of these meetings in my career. What happens next is all too typical.

Nothing changes.

When faced with three days of voicemails, emails and missed meetings, you get into your daily routine and go right back to what is familiar and comfortable, the same process you have been doing for years.

Here are five keys to avoiding this trap and making sure your investment in a sales training program sticks with the team.


1. Make the adjustments small.

Change is hard so don’t turn your entire process on its head in one session. Take a bite-sized approach to improvement and the sales training session will be more meaningful.

2. Use personal stories and get senior management to paint the picture.

Salespeople are artists (check out Storyleaders for a great example) and the best way to paint a picture that is remembered is to make it personal. I interject how the technique I am discussing has been a pivotal change or part of a great success or growth in my career to make it resonate with the team.

3. Plan followups.

Sales training is only as good as you make it after you finish. You can’t expect what you do not inspect and the same goes for changing the way someone approaches a call. Before the training, have a plan for what you will do after the training session to get their buy in.

4. Give the team permission to fail.

All great salespeople are competitive. They don’t like to fail. If you start off by failing yourself and getting your managers to do the same your team will be more willing to take a risk and try something new.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice.

As I tell all of my teams, none of us are going to the sales hall of fame at this point. David Ortiz is though. He is the greatest clutch hitter in October in baseball history (yup, you can take the boy out of Boston but not the Boston out of the boy!). But Ortiz still takes batting practice before every game. We need to be athletes and practice until new skills are muscle memory.

None of these ideas are revolutionary in and of themselves, but using them all together is the key. Far too often in preparation for sailes training we focus all our efforts on defining the issue, the new technique, specific talk track lines or targets and nothing on the plan for after we finish.

If you spend just as much time building a toolkit for the sales rep to practice after the training as you do on the positioning statement, you may find your team actually selling twice their typical deal flow and keep that motivation throughout the year.