Sales Training “Events” Don’t Work: What needs to happen before the training (Part 1 of 3)

To create effective change in sales people’s behaviors takes more than a 1, 2 or 3 day event. To think that, is to succumb to “tick box” thinking. The “I’ve sent the salesforce on a 2-day, How-to-bring-in-the-year-end-results course, so therefore we will achieve the numbers” plan is bound to disappoint.

A salesforce training event is not a magic wand; it will not create a salesforce of princes from a bunch of ugly toads!

Before the training event is even scheduled a series of activities need to happen.


Before any training is put in place the sales leader and their key stakeholders (HR/ L&D/ Sales Management) all need to be sure that the solutions chosen are high quality and practical. Metrics need to be put in place to measure the key indicators of success for the initiative. These metrics need to be quantitative, qualitative and process metrics. No one metric is ever going to give the whole story and there are always caveats but this should not be used to absolve sales management of the requirement to set metrics. Remember Peter Drucker’s famous axiom “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”. Of course this requires effort, and falls outside the quick and easy criteria, which explains why it often doesn’t get done.


Another thing that needs to happen well ahead of any events get underway is a clear communication program. This is designed to involve, inform and engage the sales management community so that they fully understand and buy-into the initiative, and that they are fully equipped to support it once it’s launched. Without the support of sales management, any change initiative will wither on the vine. Before anybody attends any events they should have a briefing from their sales manager to set the context and help the individual focus on the parts that are particularly important for them!

Organizational Alignment

Finally, no development initiative is an island. If the organization wants people to do things differently, then it has to ensure that the world around them is conducive to them doing that. What is the point of sending someone on a course for long term, strategic account management if all their reporting requirements and bonuses are tied to new business development over the next quarter? This will create mixed messages which will probably encourage people to revert to business as usual. So if you want people to do something differently you have to ensure that the policies and structure around them are sending the same message. This probably requires a review of reward, remuneration, reporting, structure and equipment to ensure relevant alignment.

Originally published by Patricia Seabright, Archimedes Consulting Ltd.

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SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional services firm, and training company, with training centers in Toronto, Boston and Chicago, that ensures the proper activities occur before sales training.