Are You Guilty of These 5 Sales Training Mistakes?

There are a million and one ways to train your sales team. From classroom training to on-the-job support, you’ve likely mixed and matched different approaches to create the right training formula for your organization.

But while there’s a lot right with sales training, it’s equally important to recognize what’s wrong. Based on what we’ve learned here at Inkling, and with some additional advice from sales training consultants, we’ve differentiated the bad from the good.

Here are five of the most common sales training mistakes:

1. Training doesn’t get the respect it deserves.
Be honest: does your training program ever become shortened, delayed, or forgotten altogether?

If so, you’re not alone. It’s easy to consider training a time suck when reps could be out closing big in the field.
Elisabeth MarinoElisabeth Marino
On the contrary, Elisabeth Marino, a consultant from Sales Dynamo Consulting, says effective training is the best way to save money: “If your sales pro fails during training, it’s cheap to replace them. If your sales pro fails in the field, it’s extremely expensive to start over with a new employee.”

Replacing one rep can cost up to $114, 957—and that’s excluding their salary. Sound training allows you to support and retain the right reps toward success. Its importance shouldn’t be overlooked.

2. You consider training a one-time event.
Within a fast-paced sales team, it’s easy for sales training to lose momentum. You might start out strong, but eventually neglect training for reps who’ve attended a few training sessions and have settled into the organization.

In fact, a lack of consistency is one of the most common mistakes in sales training. “Most companies…never follow up on whether the skills taught were ever absorbed and implemented,” Marino says. “Attending a training session is no guarantee that anything was learned.”

Attending a training session is no guarantee that anything was learned.

Make sure that your sales organization has a plan in place to follow up with any initial training. What happens when your company releases new products? What will reps do if they forget something out in the field? Always consider how you’ll help reps apply and retain that knowledge after you’ve given it to them.

3. You’ve siloed your training.
Sales training comes from sales, right? Not always.

Charles Bernard, president of Criteria for Success, says it’s important to collaborate cross-functionally: “It not only improves selling techniques for everybody, but improves teamwork and resolves many misunderstandings and conflicts between departments.”
Charles BernardCharles Bernard
Make sure that you’re working with other departments to gather the right information and help keep everyone on the same page. Sales managers shouldn’t think of themselves as the sole training resource; instead they “should be focused on acquiring resources to develop their salespeople.”

4. Best practices are stowed away.
How are updates or new learnings shared out across your team?

If the answer is email or looking back through individual notes, it’s time to rethink your strategy. “One thing most companies get wrong is that they don’t institutionalize their best practices,” says Bernard. “Instead, the knowledge is scattered around—in people’s heads and documented in random placed—instead of kept in an online sales playbook, for example.”

You need a place that your reps can turn to for the latest information, whether that’s the latest product specs or best practices for demos. Make sure that everyone has the right information to put their best foot forward, with one place to find it.

5. You’re not using all of the training tools in your toolkit.
It’s not just about classrooms and binders; today, there are a host of new learning styles and technologies that you can incorporate into your sales training program.

“I believe sales training should be a multi-media event,” Marino says. “I’m a fan of having content available in a variety of formats.” In addition to face-to-face training, that means videos and other interactives—available on all devices, of course.

For effective training, today’s reps need training that keeps them engaged, and allows them to return to the material whenever they need.

The bottom line:
As much as it’s important to celebrate any training success, it’s also important to take a hard look at your program and identity where you might be coming up short. These five common mistakes are a great place to start, and will help you identify what solutions or technologies you should implement next. 

To learn more about how you can boost your training program, we’ve put together a free guide all about mobile sales training—what it is, why it works, and how to implement it in your sales organization. Download now to read your free copy!

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