Business man holding fingers behind his back

Each year billions are spent on sales training. In the US alone, companies spend $15 billion a year training sales employees according to LinkedIn. They range from Fortune 50 to small start-ups, all united by one similarity: they have invested considerable budget to purchase hope. The hope that training will improve sales productivity. Far too often, the results of that purchase fail to make improvements, and fail to produce ROI.

It has been well documented that one of the reasons for this failure is that most companies lack the culture and resources to ensure newly trained sellers form habits around what they learn in training. But the ugly truth is that disappointing results are just as often due to a larger, far more troubling dynamic in the industry: sales training swindlers

You’ve probably seen the type before: sales training content with neither the pedigree, the provenance, nor the scientific basis required for representing legitimate best practice. If you are considering a hiring third party training provider, how do you spot the charlatans?  Start with these four questions:

  1. From what data was the content of your sales training derived? Ask specific clarifying questions. 

What you can discover is that most providers simply copied the ideas of other training programs. They may or may not have successfully skirted copyright infringement, but like the game of telephone, the content gets watered down with each iteration of copying. Many of today’s so-called “best practice” training programs fall into this category.  Be especially wary of programs saturated with three or four-letter acronyms.

  1. What Resources, Tools and Process are Included in the Program to Support our Post-Training Efforts to Drive Performance Improvement?

The swindlers will have answers such as “we provide a one-day coaching program for your managers.” A moment of reflection reveals absurdity of that answer.  One day to create performance coaches? Really? Our advice is to begin the evaluation of sales training providers by deeply exploring how they support post-training efforts.

  1. How Do You Connect Training Content to the Specific Challenges of our Company and Industry?

For most sales training providers, this question is quite scary. For the prospective purchaser, it can be tough to get to the truth. While sales best practices tend to be agnostic regarding what the sales team is selling, tailoring of the content is necessary to ensure that sellers being trained can see a direct connection between new best practices and their actual day-to-day job experience.

  1. How do we know that the training addresses our specific sales challenges?

In other words, ask the provider what process they use to determine your sales team’s unique areas of difficulty and skill deficiency. You want training providers who spare no expense ensuring that the training you’re requesting is going to actually address the highest priority challenges. For example, many sales forces have been trained on negotiation practice, when the real issue was poor sales skills earlier in the sales cycle, such as lead qualification abilities.

The sales training industry is larded with self-anointed experts.  The toughest challenge facing any decision to implement training with a third-party provider is to first weed out the potential swindlers.

Evaluating the ROI of sales training?


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