Stop me if you’ve heard these: “Sales training doesn’t work.” “I’m a natural at sales, I don’t need training.” “Sales training is a waste of time.”

Sales professionals are often resistant to training. Some salespeople are resistant to coaching because they see it as an insult: Management saying you’re not good enough. Others simply have attended enough check box sales training sessions that they’re jaded. The training isn’t effective, and it takes them away from their desk where they could be making sales instead of learning about sales.

I say that anyone who doesn’t believe in sales training has just never experienced good sales training.

Sales training is what I do—so I have some thoughts on the subject of sales training ideas. Let’s go over four training ideas that can change the way your team operates for the better.

Sales Training Ideas That Actually Work

Before I’ll be able to convince you that the ideas I discuss here will work for your team, let’s first talk about the elephant in the room: The reason why so many sales training ideas don’t work. Let’s take a look at a sales training doomed to fail:

The first reason many sales training programs fail is due to a lack of competency transfer. Most training is “information transfer.” But that isn’t the desired outcome of any training. The outcome of training is “competency transfer,” or the ability to achieve a certain outcome. Information is important, but what you really want is confidence and competence.

Another cause for ineffective sales training is a lack of planning and consistency in training. Live training is incredibly powerful, but if you don’t have a development plan designed to build competence over time, you may have checked the box, but you are not going to develop the sales skills necessary to create and win new opportunities.

Another common issue in sales training is a lack of reinforcement or behavioral change. The reason we insist on training sales managers before training a sales force is that without accountability you will never acquire the behavioral change that would improve your results.

Lastly, your sales training efforts are doomed to fail if you ignore the mindset of the salesperson. Salespeople are skeptical about training. Unless they recognize the value of the training as it pertains to their results, they won’t take it seriously. They also won’t take advice from people who haven’t walked in their shoes.

sales training competition

1. Incorporate Competition

The first idea you may want to consider for maximizing the effectiveness of your sales training is to incorporate competition. You can turn training into a competition by gamifying your training efforts.

Because selling is a conversation, it’s easy to gamify training and follow-up by role-playing scenarios, allowing the salespeople to acquire better language choices, and add them to their repertoire. It also allows us to have a contest for the salesperson with the best strategy and talk tracks. We once helped a client with a version of the television show, the Voice, with judges and audience voting. It created high engagement around the training.

You can also use knowledge checks, like quizzes and tests. If you are going to test your sales force with knowledge checks and tests, make them short and entertaining scenarios. The more effort you put into designing something that isn’t boring, the better your engagement. By the way, a funny prompt will be remembered, while something boring will be forgotten in minutes.

Putting these training efforts into a gamelike setting increases engagement in your training.

sales training mentorship

2. Develop a Mentorship Program

The best type of training efforts are ongoing ones. There is no reason to believe that a salesperson can see and hear a new concept or a new strategy once, retain everything they were exposed to, and possess the ability to execute perfectly for the rest of their lives. Training and development are different. You want to make sure training is part of development, but not the only strategy you use to develop your sales force.

Mentorship programs are effective because training isn’t a one-and-done process. We recommend that you train one competency and allow your salesperson to practice it in the field over a number of weeks, following that up with a short team meeting to share their results in the field, where it matters.

Mentor relationships not only assist with training efforts and performance but also increase employee retention and job satisfaction. An ongoing program with personal help from a mentor or coach will speed the competency transfer that produces better results by allowing the salesperson to dial in their approach.

sales training expert

3. Work With an Expert

Creating and running training efforts in-house can be expensive, both in terms of time and resources. We have one friend in sales enablement in a large company. For more than five years, he has claimed that he is going to build the content to train his team. In five years, nothing. The content that you need for your team already exists, and an expert already built the frameworks and methodologies, along with all the assets. Find someone whose work is a match for your needs.

Working with an expert helps you ensure incredible results without sacrificing team productivity during the training development process. Many experts have platforms that provide training that can be delivered in 25 minutes and practiced over a number of weeks, keeping your team on the phone or in the field instead of in a conference room.

Our Sales Accelerator is a comprehensive training program with courses that cover every stage of the sales conversation, as well as the character traits that provide the personal development that improve their overall professional development. As part of this program, the sales force is invited to bi-weekly live virtual training.

sales training success stories

4. Motivate With Success Stories

Salespeople can be resistant to training for several reasons (link to the article on the subject here). Some salespeople feel that training means their company believes they are somehow inadequate. You can address this by suggesting that training is a way to add new plays to your playbook.

RELATED READ: The True Outcome of Sales Training is Valuable Competency Transfer

Other salespeople are worried about behavioral changes, especially when they have done something the same way for a long time. You can address this by explaining why they need to make a change and that they are going to have help adopting the new approach. If what your team is doing is not producing the results, you have to explain why sales is broken.

Encourage senior staff or top performers to share the ways training exercises or scripts have helped them close tricky sales. The best salespeople are the ones who add everything they learn to their repertoire, giving them more choices when they run into tricky conversations. By sharing the value of what they learned, others can recognize the advantage of having more and better choices.

Making The Most of Sales Training Ideas

Sales training isn’t a one-and-done process. To empower your sales team and increase performance, sales training needs to be a regular occurrence on your team. Sales professionals may be resistant to training tactics at first, but incorporating creative and effective training ideas like the ones discussed in this post will help your staff get results. When your team sees how effective training can help them close more sales—and increase their commission checks—they’ll be clamoring for the next session.

My Sales Accelerator provides modular trainings that produce measurable results even the most stubborn salesperson will see benefits from. When you work with me and my team, you’ll get a tailored sales training program guaranteed to shift your team’s mindset and give you all the tools you need to hit even the most aggressive of sales targets. Get started by joining the Sales Accelerator today.


Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 26, 2022
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
Get Instant Access