Don't Buy More Sales Training

A survey by the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals found that training is the greatest challenge facing sales leaders in 2017. A full 27% of respondents listed it as a major concern and it has been the number one concern for three years running.

Sales leaders are thinking a lot about training, but more training is not the answer to their problem.

Let’s step back to the underlying issue, reps are failing to hit quota. You know it can be done, some reps are there, but too many of them are not.

We fail for one of two reasons

Atul Gawande, in his seminal book on process, The Checklist Manifesto, makes a distinction between two types of failure.

  • Failure of ignorance - We fail because we don’t know enough.
  • Failure of ineptitude - We fail because we don’t use what we know.

He goes on to argue that failure in the modern world is most often caused by the second type.

If you have any reps hitting quota then by definition you are facing the second type of failure. You know what to do or someone on your team knows what to do, but that information is not being properly used by everyone on your entire team.

Choose process or training?

Now, you might be tempted to use training to fix this, but that would be wrong. The solution to failures of ineptitude is process not training. Sales has become incredibly complex, it is high-volume, accelerated, we are juggling many prospects through long funnels. We are going to make mistakes, we are going to skip steps. I am willing to bet your team sees your top performer, they know what she’s doing, they just can’t or don’t do it themselves.

When we already knows what to do, providing more training won’t help. What's needed is a practical process for using the knowledge. That is why the highest-performing sales teams invest in process.

A consequence of doing the work

When Steve Martin professor at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business surveyed a cross section of high performing, average and low performing sales teams he found…

  • 71% of high performers had a well-documented, closely monitored or strictly enforced sales process.
  • 48% of low performers had a non-existent or informal sales process.

Great process makes high-performance a consequence of doing the work. In 2017 rather than trying to train your team into high performers, consider giving them the gift of a high-performance process.