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Sales Training, a $20 Billion Failure

Sales TrainingCorporations spend around $20 billion a year on sales training. In spite of that, aggregate metrics for sales effectiveness have been declining for a over a decade. Obviously, sales training doesn’t work. But why?

Let’s do a little thought experiment. You are a sales manager faced with the prospect of hiring a new sales person. Your choices are 1) a new kid with a masters degree from a respected university or 2) a community college graduate with 10 years of successful selling experience. Who do you choose?

That’s easy. It’s not about what they KNOW, it’s about what they DO. And “knowing” and “doing” are very different things. We all know how to live healthy lives, how to exercise and how to eat right, but how many of us actually DO it? People who want to lose weight are helped very little by attending a class on nutrition. They need help changing their behavior around food.

Your job as an effective sales manager is to build a team that out-behaves the competition. Behavior is the key weapon of differentiation in the new millennium. But changing behavior is hard to do.

Learning without coachingThis chart from Huthwaite shows what happens when you try to learn a new skill, whether it’s a new sales technique or a better golf swing.

By definition, a new skill feels awkward and uncomfortable. It doesn’t bring instant results.

In learning most skills, we go through an awkward period, where the skill doesn’t feel natural and isn’t bringing results. This period, sometimes called the “results dip,” or “incorporation lag,” is a bad time for most people. Often, they abandon the new behavior and relapse.

Learning with coaching

However, if the learner continues with the new behavior, the skill feels more and more natural and begins to result in better performance as they begin to properly apply it. This is the difference that coaching makes.

It’s easy to see why training alone is not enough. You need to follow-up the learning with consistent coaching and feedback to affect the behavior.

None of this is to say that people don’t need training. On the contrary, training is crucial for organizational development and success. But training only imparts knowledge, it doesn’t change behavior. So training imparted without coaching is largely a waste of time and money.

“What’s astonishing is that the majority of all sales training initiatives are not associated with the metrics that allow sales executives to accurately assess the ROI of their sales training investment,” According to the American Society of Training and Development. “The typical measurement of sales training effectiveness consists of counting ‘butts in seats and smiley sheets.’ For this reason, CFOs tend to cut sales-training budgets during an economic downturn.”

Pairing coaching with training not only makes the lessons stick, but provides you a ready set of metrics to demonstrate the effectiveness of your training programs.

About Us

At Farsyte, we believe that the secret to building the best sales team in the world is investing in your front-line sales managers. We are like personal trainers, working with your high-potential sales managers to unlock their potential to be great sales leaders. Our system uses a unique combination of assessment tools, mobile apps and one-on-one coaching to actually change their behavior, from trying to manage each sale, to multiplying sales by empowering their teams for maximum performance.

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