Workplace culture and sales training

Sales Training: An Unrelatable Timesuck


We have arrived at a time where most companies understand the importance of investing in their employees to improve the customer experience and they accept that there are diverse ways of working that are effective. Yet, most salespeople don’t take sales training seriously or prioritize it.

Historically, sales training has been focused on a narrow profile of sales styles, mainly the hard, aggressive style and sales roles, focusing on the Account Executive and ignoring the account management and lead generators etc.

Typically, top performers are asked to share their success with little knowledge of the adult learning theory or their audience — a similar fail to how top performers are promoted to a managerial role with little leadership experience. This devolves the training into unrelatable, motivational speeches rather than real frameworks that can be implemented right away and speak to all the people in the room. 

Salespeople want to learn and grow but bad experiences have left them skeptical on the value of investing their time.

Reclaiming The Power of Training

Just like how successful organizations have values that help guide employee behaviors, events need cultural guidelines to create an atmosphere that brings the best out in people. 

Jenny Sauer Klein, an experience designer, focusing on creating meaningful experiences at in person events (like trainings), suggests we ask two questions to help build the cultural context for events:

  1. What are the mindsets that would help participants get the most out of the experience?
  2. How can you address fears, concerns or resistances that participants might have?

Sales teams approaching training with a growth mindset and a sense of belonging are sure to get the most out of the training. Resistance comes from previous content not speaking to all the sales roles and experience levels.

Furthermore, typical fixed mindsets (ie. “I already know whatever will be taught”) and scarcity mindsets (ie. “I have no time”) on sales teams stand in the way of transformation.

Leveraging experience design helps to enable these more effective mindsets by creating culture, community and most importantly, safety at the beginning, and integrating concepts after that has been achieved.

Integration as well as retention is best achieved through experience — Edgar Dale explains that 70% of experiences and 20% of heard concepts are actually remembered. Experience. Is. Everything!

The Importance of the High-Value Exchange

Most sales training covers sales techniques, product information, and sales process best practices, which are important and not the full picture. As we mentioned in our previous blog on “Creating High Value Exchanges on Your Sales Team”, creating a high-value exchange is the most effective way to close a sale, this means uncovering customer needs and positioning value propositions around those needs.

 The key to creating high-value exchanges is active listening and creating psychological safety. Neurologically speaking, sales is scary! When we sell to a new customer, we’re asking them to challenge their perceptions and leave their comfort zone — activating their limbic system or our reptilian, primitive brain.

As Daniel Kahneman explains in his book on behavioral psychology and decision making, the limbic system is an emotional system, not a rational system and people are unable to welcome new ideas, be creative or make decisions when their limbic brain is active.

Salespeople hold a lot of power to create the conditions where customers can make decisions. Active listening and safety require making a real human connection — if your salespeople aren’t connecting, they are wasting their time!

What companies need to offer their sales team

Management should be excited to improve their sales team’s trust in enablement efforts through training designed to support all salespeople in achieving real results.

Companies need to create create a short form, customizable learning program based on neuroscience, that includes approachable frameworks, fun exercises and practical outcomes. This will complement thier sales enablement efforts while entraining the skills necessary to create high-value exchanges with your customers, enabling true customer centricity.

The goal is to not just deliver concepts but teach why these concepts matter (neurologically) and tie them to experiences to reinforce concepts and improve retention.

Salespeople want to learn and grow — their paycheck depends on it! Let’s rewrite the story they have in their head that sales training is a waste of time and actually develop their capacity to learn faster, work together, build resiliency and empower them to be the frontline innovators of their organization.

Skills to learn:

  • The Neuroscience of Sales
  • Empathy and Listening
  • Framing the Sales Call
  • Embodied Pitching
  • Identifying Customer Types and Sales Styles
  • Resiliency & Team Collaboration
  • Intrapreneurship