Why your reps do not apply their sales training

sales training

Sales People Don’t Apply Sales Training

“This will change the game” is exactly what I thought as I attended my first ever Sales Training in the SaaS Space.   Years and years ago, I remember the 3 days spent with Skip Miller very clearly.  I had read his book and thought that this was going to be the day that everything shifted from “really good” to “unstoppable”.  One thing that he said that took me back, and I’m not sure that I will ever forget, is “in the next 2 weeks, you’ll forget about most of this”.  Never, ever, have there been truer words.  In fact, I don’t even remember the last time I did a “Summarize, Bridge, and Pull”. 

The Problem

The problem was not that the sales training was bad.  In fact, all of the sales training was amazing and I absolutely loved it.  The problem was that salespeople have a really hard time not falling back into old habits.  Like all humans, we want to do what is comfortable and we want to take the easy path most of the time.  Doing the right thing in sales isn’t very comfortable.  It’s some of the worst feelings you can imagine.  It’s embarrassing, sometimes high-risk, and your entire livelihood usually depends on it.  So why do you, your reps, and humans not apply their sales training?  Nowadays, with call intelligence tools you may be able to detect it more easily, but the reps don’t apply it in real-time.  What gives?  Let’s get into that.

Lack of Accountability

The number one problem with any sales training is that we spend a great deal of time practicing, training, and honing our skills… but managers don’t always follow through on making sure the training is being applied.  One reason is that there is not an unlimited amount of time in the day, but the other is that manager may not be able to sit with each rep on every call due to conflict.  Most of the time this is accomplished (when the managers actually do it) through call recordings.  If only there was software that listened to what the rep and prospect were saying and then reported on if the coaching was being used (maybe see ABSTRAKT).  When reps know that they are going to be asked about where they applied the training, then the training tends to be remembered and used.  When they are not, it’s basically in one ear and out the other. 


The next reason reps fail to apply their training is that they straight up forget it.  When I was younger, I didn’t really believe in taking notes; that is the way most salespeople are.  Given the chance to cut off a finger, or take notes, most salespeople would… take notes… but you get what I mean, they do not like to do it.  That said, when the call comes around and they don’t have a plan in front of them, most people will slip back into older and more comfortable habits.  To avoid this, team members need to receive active reminders.  In the past, I have done this with bullet points on paper, mind maps, and of course, ABSTRAKT.

No Clear Value Established

Why even go to sales training?  What is in it for me?  Why should I apply the sales training in my job?  These are the questions that your team is going to need to answer for themselves before they are willing to apply any type of training to their day jobs.  The question you want them to answer, and maybe not even hypothetically, is why wouldn’t you want to apply this in your job?  Part of the way that we have handled this in the past is by framing the sales coaching as a benefit to them as a salesperson in their career.  At a minimum, giving them the spirit of what problem we are trying to solve for will help them adopt the training and use it in their role. 

Not Practicing

Have you ever heard a young child trying to read a sentence when they have not practiced reading out loud?  Because they are not used to the words, they are concentrating more on reading the words than understanding what they mean.  Salespeople do the same thing when it comes to applying sales training.  They fail to apply sales training because they don’t role play.  Personally, I never minded role-playing, but most salespeople hate it.  Part of the problem goes back to them being comfortable with what they want to do.  Unfortunately, being a successful salesperson means that you have to jump out of that comfort zone and reinvent yourself.

Style Adaptation

The last challenge with salespeople not applying their sales training is failing to adapt it to their style.  Everyone is different when it comes to personality and one size certainly doesn’t fit all.  This is also why practice and role-playing is so important, it allows the salesperson to adapt the training to their style.  You get all of the results, and they get to feel less awkward.  Although I saved this for last, it’s probably one of the most important things to do with sales training.  If a training does not adapt to a salesperson’s personality, they simply won’t implement it.  If they do, it will discover disastrous results of having the client see right through them; eroding trust and killing the deal.  

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