Sales Training “Events” Don’t Work: Where the Rubber Really Hits the Road! (Part 2 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 bunch of ugly toads! 

Before the training event is even scheduled a series of activities need to happen. What happens after the training event is more important still.

Post–Event: Where the Rubber Really Hits the Road!

To use an old sales saying, after the event is where “the rubber really hits the road”.  And this is where the majority of sales training goes horribly wrong. Sales people and sales managers traditionally return from their 1,2 or 3 day course to be greeted to a massive inbox, a pile of work and clamoring customers. The time and inclination to apply anything from the event is just not there, and anyway it’s much less time consuming just to do things the same way as usual. The dreaded inertia strikes again! If anything is to change for the better, twice as much effort needs to go into the implementation and consolidation phase than any other phase. What can keep sales people focused on the development agenda and not distracted by the ever present fire fighting requirements of commercial reality?

Senior Management Mandate

The senior management mandate is a good start! If the sales leader says this is critical and backs up his/ her words with supporting actions then sales people will take it seriously. If a development initiative is not clearly and consistently endorsed by senior sales management then it sends a message that it’s not considered that important; and if it is “optional” all but the most diligent learners will have other, more pressing things to spend time on. The results achieved by individuals and businesses are a function of what they do consistently. Sales management therefore has to insist on a degree of rigor and discipline if they are to succeed in creating change and improvement.


Sales management have to take an active and regular role in coaching in new skills and processes. For most people learning to do something differently is an iterative process. You need to do it, get some real world experience of it, get feedback, and apply it again. This is almost impossible to do in splendid isolation, and hence the critical importance of line managers coaching.

An important distinction here is the ability of the sales managers to coach the knowledge, skill or process not just focus on the deal/ the task in hand. This may mean that the sales managers themselves require support to help them coach effectively. Going back to the football analogy, it’s like a general manager spending a ton of time and money on a great players, great coaching staff, and weeks of training time to implement a killer formation and then when it’s actually game time saying, “it’s all right boys, you just do what you think is best”!

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 after a sales training workshop.