Question: Do one-day sales training programs work? 

Not too long ago I was talking with a sales manager who was the quarterback for a D1 football team. We had gotten onto the topic of professional training and more specifically, sales training. He was trying to rationalize a one or two day sales training program rather than a more drawn out, reinforcement program.

After he had talked himself out, I asked him, “When you were playing college football and you ran a new play on Saturday afternoon during a game, was that the first time you ever ran that play? I mean did your coach call the team to the sideline, show you a chalkboard play for the first time, and then ask you to run the play against your opponent?” The answer, of course, was “no.” The team would practice that play for days or weeks before it was put into play during a game.

The same analogy can be made for a musical instrument and performing in a concert or recital.

So what’s the message here?

Companies often spend lots of money sending salespeople to a one (or two) day sales training program. After the training, there is no further rehearsal, practice or reinforcement. After a month or two, the salesperson is back to their old habits, and the time and money spent on the training is wasted (again).

Even worse, the salesperson is sent to a different one-day sales program every year. Not only is the salesperson confused as to the company’s sales process (methodology), but also he/she is freewheeling in front of the company’s clients and prospects.

The big question is if you are planning to budget for sales training for 2014, what type of program do you want? Are you just checking a box on an HR form to say you have sent your people to training or are you trying to move your teams’ effectiveness to the next level?

Dave Harman is an associate with Sandler Training. He has over 30 years’ experience in sales and sales management with Fortune 500 companies as well as small, family-owned organizations. He has held positions from sales to senior management with companies such as Conoco/Vista, Amresco and Ohio Awning, and owns his own business. He earned his MBA with a concentration in Marketing from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. You can reach him at [email protected] or (888) 448-2030.