Why Most Sales Training Programs Fail

Published on Mar 25, 2017

Companies invest a significant amount of revenue into the development of their salespeople each year.

Corporations in the US alone spend over $70 Billion on training, and still, there is a mass of sales reps that underperform.

In fact, according to, The Science of Selling; by David Hoffeld, 38-49% of ALL salespeople fail to make quota each year.


Many companies are incorrectly addressing the training needs of their sales force. Fortunately, many of the mistakes organizations make when creating and delivering training programs can be fixed.

Let’s take a look at the most common reasons sales training programs fail, and how to avoid these pitfalls to produce lasting results.

Failure to Customize the Training to the Needs of Your Team

It’s important to take inventory on how your sales team is performing, and determine what areas you would like to improve to ensure your sales training program has the most impact.

Take the time BEFORE you develop your curriculum to conduct an evaluation. Gather key insights on the strengths and weakness of your team and use the information to customize the training to address those areas. This approach will enable you to focus your time on the tactics and strategies that will have the most impact on your performance.

Unfortunately, many companies overlook the importance of an evaluation and rely too heavily on making assumptions about their training needs. Assuming incorrectly increases the risk of implementing a program that is not relevant, thus reducing its impact.

Not Aligning Your Sales Process with the Training Methodology

Many companies approach sales training as a one-off event. Once the training is over, sales reps are left on their own to figure out how to implement what they learned. It’s no surprise that nearly 50% of the training is forgotten within five weeks.

Planning in advance for how you intend to align the training content with your day-to-day sales process will go a long way to reinforcing lessons learned. It allows your salespeople to apply strategies and tactics regularly through repetition resulting in true behavioral change.

Not Establishing An Accountability Plan To Reinforce, Monitor, and Measure Results.

Having a plan for holding your reps accountable is essential to measuring results from for your training program. It’s like Peter Drucker, the management guru, would say, “You can only improve what you can measure.”

To make the best use of the time and resources invested in your sales training program, you should define what you would like to get out of it BEFORE you start. Begin by asking the following questions:  

  • How will we measure success?   
  • What metrics will be used to track performance?
  • What areas would we like to see improved the most?
  • What are the expected results?
  • How often will we meet with the team to review progress?

Having a sales training program that increases revenue and performance is what every company wants. The way to get the most value out of your training is to ensure your curriculum is tailored to the needs of your team, it integrates well with your daily sales process, and you have a well throughout plan to reinforce and measure your results.

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