Why most sales training is a waste of time

Sales training, arguably the most critical form of training and development for any organisation, is often sold as an intangible. That is to say, it’s hard to compare and value and therefore it’s not valued correctly.

Effective sales training should be measured and made tangible. The question is, as a result of the training, how much are the learning outcomes worth? What is the real value?

  • What is the value of a 16% uplift in conversion?
  • What is the value of a 28% increase in cross-sell/value add?
  • What is the value of a 33% decrease in attrition?

The answers, of course, vary depending on the business, but they can me measured and assigned a value. This predetermined value should help define the investment for the training – not simply a day rate charged by the training company.

Measured training is often cast into the too hard basket. Moreover, trainers and training companies are happy to not be “put on the hook” for outcomes and results. Ad and brand agencies also do this well and it means zero accountability.


The most common form of training is the “sheep-dipping” approach.

“Sheep-dipping” occurs when a team is quickly dipped and rinsed in training, then sent back to their role to assume old habits and patterns of behaviour. The leaders don’t buy-in and there is no accountability for not applying the learnings and embedding them correctly. As a result the sales training is a waste of time.

To get maximum bang for buck with any training initiative, the leaders must live and breathe the learnings first. The Fearless Leader™(s) – as we call them – drives the change and leads by example. Conducting training without the leader’s input, full engagement and participation is the first mistake many companies make.

The training must be linked into the daily activities by way of structured tools and strategies. This is best achieved when training tools and terminology are built into the CRM, sales capability framework, sales process and ongoing coaching. This essentially creates a new language and behaviours that allow the training to live and breathe beyond the (10%) classroom and be coached to on a daily basis.

The learnings really come to life when team members start benefiting from using them. This creates a genuine belief and ignites the flame that blazes the way forward for the average achievers and non-believers.

Your sales training provider should help craft the measurements and KPIs for the training and be held accountable in some way. This ensures there is skin in the game and all parties are committed to the learning outcomes and growth of the business.

Most training (“sheep-dipping”) that is delivered fails on many of the above measures, making it a waste of time. However, truly effective sales training can be game changing.

Trent Leyshan is the founder of  sales training  company BOOM! Sales and the author of  Outlaw  and  The Naked Salesman


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