Is Your Sales Training Program DOA? 7 Warning Signs

May 7, 2019 | Michele Wilkins

SalesTrainingWarningCreating an effective and profitable sales training program takes time, effort, and most importantly money. Companies invest significant time and capital into their sales training programs. An investment that they, in turn, expect to see a return on. Ask any training executive, and they’ll tell you that there can be immense pressure from the powers-that-be to show a positive ROI on any sales training program. So, what are the warning signs that your sales training program is going to be a flop so you can revive it before it fails? Here are the 7 flags to keep an eye out for.

7 Signs Your Sales Training Is Failing

1. Your Sales Training Happens Only Once or Twice a Year

Profitable sales training programs are built on a platform of constant learning and reinforcement. Sure, large-scale seminars once or twice a year can be vital tools, but those efforts need to be reinforced with regular smaller training sessions throughout the year. The more exposure your team has to a certain methodology or sales cadence, the more likely they are to adopt that methodology as part of their sales process.

Which in turn will lead to a more profitable sales training program.

Instead of looking for ways to squeeze in another large-scale marquee training seminar or workshop, look for organic opportunities to provide training and guidance on an ongoing basis. A few options to consider are:

  • Daily stand-up meetings
  • Weekly pipeline meetings
  • Monthly number reviews

You get the picture.

Take 5-15 minutes in these meetings to share a new insight, technique, or lesson with the team.


2. Lead and Deal Volume Is Stagnant

A sure-fire sign that your sales training might be flatlining is that the volume of leads and deals have become stagnant. Numbers aren’t going down (hopefully), but they aren’t necessarily going up either.

The purpose of sales training is to INCREASE the number of new qualified leads/deals so that you can see higher close/won rates. If you want to prove the ROI of a specific sales training initiatives, you need to be able to show a lift in revenue following the sales training.

If you see an initial spike in revenue that then plateaus, this could be a sign that it’s time to reinvigorate your sales training efforts.


3. Soft Metrics Aren’t Showing Signs of Growth

Sure, closed/won is one of the most important success sales KPIs in any organization, but don’t discount the soft metrics it takes to get there. It’s called a funnel for a reason.

It takes a lot of inputs to hit those sales quotas further downstream.

Have your organization’s sales team keep an eye out for any alarming downward soft metric trends. Specifically:

  • Email open rates
  • Answered phone calls
  • Response rates
  • Site visits

A dip in email opens in June can lead to a decline in new deals in September.

By analyzing the performance of these soft metrics, you can catch early indicators that you may need to revitalize your sales training efforts.


4. The Sales Team Turnover Rate Is Increasing

Believe it or not, strong training programs can have a huge effect on team turnover. Strong training programs empower a salesperson by providing them with additional support, knowledge, and confidence. The more confident a salesperson is in their role, the more likely they are to excel in that role and stay in that role.

The counter of this is also true. If a sales team member is feeling frustrated or is feeling like they aren’t being provided with the tools and information they need to be successful, they’re going to begin looking elsewhere.

Reducing turnover can have a massive impact on your organization's bottom line and can greatly affect the profitability of your training programs. In fact, the cost of losing an employee in their first year can be up to three times that person’s salary!

A high turnover rate is a telltale sign that something may be amiss with your current training program.


5. There Haven’t Been Any Changes to Your Sales Process in X Years

If the sales team is using the same process they’ve used since 1990, you’ve got a problem.

The audience a salesperson is targeting is constantly evolving. Which means your organization’s sales process needs to constantly evolve right along beside them.

One way to stay on top of emerging sales trends is to audit the sales training process regularly. For each step, ask yourself why it’s there. If the answer is, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it,” then start looking for new techniques.

A thriving training program is continuously adapting to the ever-changing demands and needs of the market.


6. Tools and Materials Aren’t Being Adopted for the Long Haul

It’s normal for a new tool to be utilized right after a team member is trained on it. Everyone’s excited with the shiny new toy. But, what happens a few months down the road when the shine has worn off, and the training begins to get a bit rusty.

Adoption needs to be reinforced over weeks and months. It takes time to develop habits. Which means you can’t expect the sales team to leave a single training session and automatically begin using a new tool from here on out. Especially if they have years of experience with another tool or process.


7. Upper Management Is Frustrated

At the end of the day, one of the clearest signs that your sales training efforts aren’t producing the anticipated output is that senior leadership is frustrated with the sales team’s results.

Whether it’s missed goals, lagging numbers, or a general belief that performance should be “better,” where there is frustration, there is an expectation that isn’t being met.

If the sales team continually finds themselves having to defend their results, it may be a sign that the current sales training program in place may not be providing enough value to them.


Time to Take Action

If any of the above warning signs rang true for your organization, now's the time to take action. As the saying goes, “The best time to plant an oak tree was 50 years ago. The next best time is today.”

By taking action even the slightest action today, you can set your sales team up for incremental improvements over the upcoming weeks and months. Start by looking for opportunities to uplift your current training efforts. See if there’s an opportunity to incorporate training into the regular cadence of the sales team or investigate new methodologies and approaches that may benefit the team.  

Remember, even the slightest improvement today can have a noticeable impact on your training program’s ROI throughout the year.


Learn more about the skills for success that your team needs through FinListics' training programs

Posted in Sales Training