Sales Training is a “Process” not an Event

Posted on April 17th, by in Sales Training. No Comments

We don’t say that reps are “sales trained” – for all you English majors – we use the present participle form and refer to it as “sales training.” And for a good reason:  sales training must be a continuous process if you are going to be successful in today’s B2B sales environment.

3 facts every seller should know:

#1:  94% of buyers have conducted online research before purchasing[1]

       Seller MUST:  have a knowledgeable sales force that can be responsive to a buyer’s inquiries, engage with the prospective buyer, and be an “expert” who can guide the buyer through the buying process

#2:  it takes an average sales rep 7 – 9 months to be productive[2]

       Seller MUST:   invest in educating and training sales reps so they are able to talk intelligently when they finally engage with a prospect

#3:  sales reps forget approximately 85% of the content and skills they have learned within 30 days[3] 

       Seller MUST:  invest in technology that will enable sales reps to have all the relevant information at their fingertips so they can engage, educate and guide the buyer to the right buying decision

The typical response:  

The statistics are firmly established and organizations with inside sales are well aware of the changing buying environment.  Companies are investing in training their sales teams – spending as much as $1,238[4] per employee per year to on-board new reps, train them on product lines, even on competitors’ products, and perhaps even on the company’s standard sales processes.  The problem is, reps forget what they’ve learned – a staggering 80% within 30 days – and fall back into their old habits of selling what they know best or the 20% they remember.  Reps fail to make quota (45 – 55%[5]), get discouraged,  and leave within 2 years or less, with less experienced reps leaving sooner.  Hire new rep – train – fail – repeat cycle.  Sound familiar?

The real problem

Do your sales reps have all the information they need when they need it and is it current?  Do your reps know the latest data your marketing department has gathered on your own products, on competitors’ products, and what about industry trends and how your company’s best practices may need to evolve and adapt?  Do your sales managers know whether their sales teams are following your company’s sales processes and best practices (hopefully you have them!)?  Can they review metrics to see which processes their best sales reps are following?  Can they replicate those across their sales teams to improve overall team performance?  Yes, successful selling is itself a process. But it all starts with understanding that sales training is a process – and that process must be rooted in technology to be effective, productive and ultimately successful.

The experts’ predictions of what it will take

“Sales training” is a continuous and iterative process that must keep pace with today’s dynamic buying environment.

  • Learning agility will emerge as a critical skill necessary for both sales leaders and salespeople. ~ Jill Konrath, author of Agile Selling, SNAP Selling, Selling to Big Companies
  • Sales professionals’ biggest challenges will be educating and informing rather than interrupting and selling. ~ David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Sales and Service
  • The biggest challenge for sellers is staying relevant to meet buyers where they are at in their buying process to give them what they need during the sales process so they can make a decision efficiently. ~ Nancy Bleeke, President, Sales Pro Insider
  • Sales processes must be modified to reflect how buyers want to buy. Every interaction with them will be well thought out and deliver value.  No more making them “earn” the right to information.  We will put it at their fingertips.  ~ Trish Bertuzzi, The Bridge Group
  • Subject matter experts who understand and can help guide the sales process will drive growth in B2B companies. ~ Ian Altman, Business Trends That Will Drive Success in 2017
  • We spend too much time teaching sales professionals how to sell, and not enough time learning how buyer’s actually buy. ~ Michael Nick, Author of the bestselling book The Key to the C-Suite.

What can you do?

It’s easy to buy the latest tools and gadgets – but if you don’t know how, when or where to use them and which ones are working, how can you ensure identify and replicate the right and best ones?  There is no easy, one-size-fits-all solution.  It starts with hiring right – your sales reps must not be technology-averse but must embrace your technology tools and utilize them to become “subject matter experts”; your marketing department must remain vigilant with up-to-date information that is shared with sales and at their fingertips so their conversations with prospects are knowledgeable and relevant; your sales leaders must continually review and refine sales processes and communicate those to their sales teams in a timely fashion.  It’s all process-oriented.  Can you afford not to be?


This blog was written by Richard Brock, President of SalesTalk, for more information visit


[1]  Accenture, B2B Procurement Study
[2]  CSO Insights; Marketing Profs, The Three Biggest Challenges of Today’s Sales Reps
[3]  ATD Journal
[4]  2016 Training Industry Report
[5]  The Bridge Group
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