Why Most Sales Training Is a Waste of Time and Money

A huge amount of money is wasted each year on sales training initiatives that don’t work. In fact, one study suggest that 85% – 95% of all sales training produces no long term enhanced performance beyond 120 days of training. There are many reasons for this:

(a) sales training is a completely unregulated industry: unlike practically every other profession – heck even my barber has to have a license and is regulated by the state – not so in the sales training business where anyone can throw up a web site and can enter the industry with little or no experience;

(b) the barrier to entry is so low and there are no certification or minimum requirements or professional development required;

(c) those seeking sales training don’t do their homework by conducting a thorough investigation on companies they hire;

(d) decisions to hire training companies are often based on gut feelings or knee jerk reactions rather than through an orderly selection process.

Reasons for Failed Initiatives

There are numerous reasons companies fail in their selection of sales training companies. Here are the most common:

1.      They hire a company based strictly on name recognition. While many of the big brands do a commendable job there can be great variation within the company based on who is doing the training. The skill of the individual trainer is more important than who the company is or what their reputation may be.

2.      They hire a company based on previous experience at a former company or upon a recommendation from someone inside their industry. What works for one company does not automatically work for another even within the same industry since all training needs to be customized for the individual company.

3.      They hire based on a recommendation from a friend or associate who may be in an entirely different business or community who is selling to a different group of buyers.

4.      They are wooed by the buzz created by the latest “secret” or author. Every year there are dozens of books written on sales training claiming that they have a new and innovative approach. Fact is there is very little new in selling and the claim about new and different is just a smart marketing tactic used by the marketer.

5.      Decisions makers are often “sold” by a trainer who is charismatic and presents a good talk at a trade show or a webinar.  Being able to sell from the front of the room or in a teleseminar and teach others to sell successfully is not the same thing.

How You Should Select a Sales Training Company

Before you hire a sales training company you should consider these things:

1.      What are you trying to accomplish? (more sales from existing customers, new customer acquisition, etc)

2.      Does the company you are considering have a track record producing these results with companies like yours who sell a similar product or service in a similar marketplace and at a similar price point?

3.      Can the trainer furnish you with at least 3 references you can call who would be willing to do business with them again?

4.      What quantifiable, tangible results can they show you from clients they have worked with?

5.      Do they offer a guarantee of results….if not run don’t walk away from them.

The process you use should be carefully and thoroughly developed and followed so you make an informed, objective decision. It is not hard but does require doing your homework.

Harrison Greene

The founder of a prominent sales training company wrote a book about sales called You Can’t Teach a Kid To Ride a Bicycle in a seminar. Then he went on to train salespeople in seminars.

Seminars don’t work without field/phone training that actually reinforces the seminar and is embraced by sales managers who need to continue teaching what was covered in the seminar.

Sales trainers worth their salt demonstrate their methodology during actual sales calls.


Steve I agree with all you said but just a couple comments.
1-How can one receive certified sales trainer status.
2-If you are now entering the sales training industry as an individual then I suppose all you have to go with is your experience and your success and achievements as a sales leader.
3-Can any qualified trainer become successful at sales training or will sales experience be a deciding factor.

Jimmie Jones

Makes sense. Unfortunately I am one of the “to be trained” and our company, based on owner’s gut feeling – has retained a brother-in-law of a friend. Based on what I’ve heard so far – no references – no guarantee. Trying to keep an open mind and be supportive but … fear the worse.

Steve Clark

As far as I know, there is no sales trainer certification program anywhere. Stay tuned and pay attention because we will be introducing a New School Sales Trainer Certification Program in early 2011. This will be a rigorous training and will equip one with the necessary sales training and marketing skills to become successful as a sales trainer and consultant. If you would like to receive information about this certification email me at sclark@newschoolselling.com

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