Matt Rister | Thu, Oct 25, 2018

How to Make Sales Training Stick


professional woman asking a question in a meeting

Most of us at some point in our careers have been to a seminar or training course. Typically we leave feeling motivated and have every intention of changing our current habits. Until reality hits. Stress, busy schedules, and excuses all seem to get in the way. Over time, the motivation to apply what was learned fades and can even be forgotten. So, naturally, it’s common that executives wrestle with making an investment in training programs.

Sales training can be like trying to get in shape. With a “diet” mindset, sales training simply won’t stick. Sales training should be viewed as a “lifestyle change” in order to have lasting, long-term effects. Let me explain the difference.

Successful Sales Training Does Not Happen in a Day

I recently read an article written by the first woman to win The Biggest Loser contest on TV.  In the article, she chronicled her life over the past two years since winning the weight loss challenge. In the first three months, she managed to maintain her new weight and even started a fitness company selling nutrition plans and exercise videos.  Two years later, as she wrote the article, she was 10lbs heavier than she was when she filmed the first episode of The Biggest Loser.  What happened?  How can that be?  The show is real.  Each contestant has a credible fitness trainer along with 12 weeks of a customized exercise and nutrition plan.  During the 12 weeks, the plans are modified and adjusted to meet the specific needs of the contestants based on their progress or lack thereof.  There is also strict accountability via not only the trainers but also the other contestants.  After all, they are all in it together. At the end of 12 weeks, the contestants go home.  The challenges of everyday life and busy schedules create an environment of food on the run and missed exercise sessions.  They are surrounded by people that don’t share the same goals and don’t provide a system of accountability.  A short time later it is as if those 12 weeks never existed. 

Traditional sales training is no different. The results are fleeting. So how do you make sales training actually work?

Making Sales Training a Part of Your Company Culture

Every spring, elite football players are given the opportunity to fulfill their life-long dream of playing in the National Football League.  On draft day, those selected players can now call themselves a professional.  As a professional football player, they will shortly enter a training program that doesn’t last only 3 weeks but will last the remainder of their career in the league.  It will be designed around off-season strength training with customized nutrition plans to support their bodies and a series of off-season team activities to learn the playbooks. Everyone is involved at various levels from the team owner, management, the coaches, veteran players, and rookies all to reach a common goal of being the #1 team in America.  Not everyone is involved to the same degree, nor is every single plan the same, but overall there are common goals and a common language supported and reinforced every day. 

Wouldn’t it make sense for leadership to invest in their organization in the same way if we want to truly change the culture and drive different results?  A culture of shared goals, common language, and a process that is reinforced and focused on getting better every day?

Behavioral change in salespeople doesn’t happen in a one-day seminar.  Behaviors, beliefs, and habits weren’t created in a day and they won’t be changed in a day.  And salespeople can’t do it alone.  We believe it starts at the top.  Leadership must see training as an investment, not as an expense.  They have to view it as a long-term part of their strategy, not a quick fix.  Leadership has to not only commit but participate at some level in various stages.  Many people recognize the benefit they would receive from sales training. Few people are able to change their belief systems and commit the time and money to make a change.

If you’re considering sales training and you’re concerned it won’t stick long-term, remember amateurs only practice until they get it right, professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong. Contact our team of professionals to discuss creating a sales training program that emphasizes a sales culture that ensures ongoing success.   

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Categories: Training, Sales, Management