Sales Training MistakesOur numbers show that over 59% of sales reps are going to miss the Q1 number.  When the CEO and CFO see the gap, they will ask why.  They will ask “why did we spend all that money on sales kickoff to come out of the gates behind?” The impact for you could be that your initiatives will be labeled as failed and that you lack the business maturity to determine what investments will drive an ROI. Ouch.


You better have an answer.  It may be because you committed one or all of the first quarter sales training mistakes.  Take ownership of the mistake and deploy one of the 5 quick fixes to your self-inflicted stress. Leaders get judged not on making mistakes but how they react and take ownership.


1 – No Problem Clarity— You rolled out sales training without a clear focus on the problem to be solved.

Quick Fix – Perform actionable discovery (sales rep ride alongs, customer survey, rep survey, pipeline analysis and mystery shopping). What you may find is you don’t have a sales training problem. You may have a territory design issue, lack of leads, poor quota setting or poor coverage model. The attached training diagnosis may help you determine what to prioritize.


 2 – Generic Content— You utilized generic materials from a book or training company that were not tied to your current process.  The ‘A’ player of 2012 rolls their eyes at off the shelf materials.

Quick Fix – Breakdown your current sales process into a series of modules or 101/201/301. Ask your training team to put a series of 1 hour trainings together in the following format:


20 minutes teaching the process/30 minutes role playing/10 minutes of lessons learned.


3 – Preaching – You had your team listen to a speaker for 3 hours vs. understand a current process and experience it through live application/scenarios.

Quick Fix – Start teaching. The goal should be 50% process/50% experiential learning. Sales training is absorbed best through application; it is like sports and running drills. You can only watch so much film.Hold a monthly loss review for 60 minutes. On the call 2 reps review a deal that got away; each for 30 minutes. Capture 2-3 key learnings and put these learnings into a folder for future state improvements to your sales process. Focus on 1 behavior change item per loss review that the team can execute tomorrow.


4 – Led by Outsider – You committed the sin of paying a keynote speaker 50K and expected them to drive change in your sales force. (now if you hired them just for entertainment, you get a pass)

Quick Fix – Ask your best people to lead the rest of the team on key Scorecard items (not just revenue). The best leaders are teachers. If you are developing future leaders, this is a great activity. You can assess presentation skills of your team when they have to present to their peers.  


5 – No Reinforcement – You held training in January with no reinforcement plan.


Quick Fix


  • Determine a multi modal reinforcement plan (online, classroom,  field, home study)
  • Assign reinforcement by role (VP of Sales, Sales Manager, Sales Operations). Each stakeholder should have responsibility to help drive the new behavior.
  • Publish quick wins via multiple communication channels (email, meetings, spoken, 1 on 1 recognition)
  • Set small goals with the new behavior


As they say in golf, don’t follow a bad shot with a bad shot. Q1 is over. If you are looking to level set the sales training priorities focus on the maturity of your organization first. To do so, download our sales force maturity tool which will allow you to align your training to the level of your sales force.


sales management maturity model tool


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Matt Sharrers

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by embracing emerging best practices to grow revenue faster than the industry and competitors. 

Matt Sharrers is the CEO of SBI, a management consulting firm specialized in sales and marketing that is dedicated to helping you Make Your Number. Forbes recognizes SBI as one of The Best Management Consulting Firms in 2017.


Over the course of nearly a decade at SBI, Matt Sharrers was an instrumental early partner guiding SBI as the Senior Partner. Matt’s functional responsibilities included acting as the head of sales where he led SBI’s double-digit revenue growth, and was responsible for the hiring function to build SBI’s team of revenue generation experts.


Prior to joining SBI in 2009, Matt spent eleven years leading sales and marketing teams as a Vice President of Sales. Matt has “lived in the field.” As a result, he is the foremost expert in the art of separating fact from fiction as it relates to revenue growth best practices. CEOs and Private equity investors turn to Matt’s team at SBI when they need to unlock trapped growth inside of their companies.



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