May 092012

Sales Training: Why Most Sales Training Doesn’t Work

Sales Training: By Dr. Tony Andrews-Speed, PhD and associates

Companies spend millions of dollars each year on sales training hoping for an improvement in their bottom line, yet most of the time they do not realize a sustained improvement. Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself.

In 1998, according to the American Society for Training and Development, only 19% of people who took a sales training course received any kind of sustained performance improvement. Sadly, most of the sales training being conducted today does not produce permanent skill enhancement or behavioral change in the participants. Why is that?

The flaw is in the learning model not in the content.

Most sales training is “information based” and is presented from an “intellectual” or “factual” point of view. Because the human brain quickly forgets most new information to which it is exposed, a few days after the seminar is over, the information has faded away.

Psychologists tell us that we consciously forget 95% of what we hear at a seminar within twenty-one days of hearing it. Yes, we heard it and we intellectually understood it, but we didn’t retain it and we certainly can’t execute or implement it a month later.

The flaw is in the learning model not in the content.

Think about how you learned the multiplication tables. You practiced over and over and over again. You did drills and flash cards for weeks and weeks until new neuropath ways were created chemically and electrically in your brain.

The same thing happened when you learned to ride a bike. You didn’t take one lesson, then hop on the bike, and take off. Like most of us, you had to practice and fall down, and repeat the process over and over until one day your neurological system “got it” and then you “owned” the skill for life.

Selling is the same way, except it is more difficult than learning to ride a bike or memorizing the multiplication tables. Companies, managers, and salespeople all want to short cut the process. They want an easy, fast, painless method that does not exist and they continue to be seduced by the promise of the one-day miracle seminar or the magic book or tape.

Working On the Wrong End of the Problem

Many of the questions we get asked by salespeople tend to be “how to” or “technique” type questions. These questions are usually the wrong questions to be asking. Why?

Selling is not about what you do. It is about who you are. We have known for years that our belief system is far more important than any techniques we might use. Belief has to do with belief about product, market, company, competition and, most importantly, belief about our self. According to Denis Waitley, “we don’t get what we want in life but we do get what we expect.”

Selling, like life, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of harping on “how to,” we should be asking ourselves, ��Why am I having these problems?” What beliefs are getting in the way of my success? What self-limiting beliefs do I need to change? To be truly successful in life we have to be honest with ourselves and be willing to change.

There is a rule of human nature that says: You can only perform in life in a manner that is consistent with how you see yourself performing. What you visualize you materialize. That’s what Napoleon Hill wrote about in “Think and Grow Rich.” The key word being ��Think.” Whatever circumstances you and I are experiencing at this moment are because of the way we think. And what we think is ultimately our own responsibility. We can’t blame the economy, the competition, our company, the industry or anything else for what we think.


To Discuss how these Solutions will add value for you, your organization and/or your clients, Affinity/Resale Opportunities, and/or Collaborative Efforts, Please Contact:

Tom McDonald,; 608-788-5144; Skype: tsmw5752

sales training, McDonald Sales and Marketing, LLC