Avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of Sales Training


One of the best marketing weapons a company can use against it's competition is sales training.

In bottom line profits, it can mean the difference between breaking even and leading the pack.

At Max Sacks International, we've seen salespeople increase their productivity 50 to 100 percent and more as a direct result of sales training - the right sales training. Is your current program showing these results?

Max Sacks International has identified in its 40+ years of experience:
The Seven Deadly Sins of Sales Training.


What's wrong with sales training today? In most instances, there isn't any. Most companies do offer "sales training," but typically this merely consists of product knowledge, technology and how to do the necessary paperwork.

It seems ridiculous for a company to require its salespeople to have 4 or 5 years of formal education, and then send them into the field armed with only their product knowledge and very little if any sales training.

The greatest weakness of salespeople throughout the World is that they are product-centered and not people-oriented. It is your people knowledge that makes product/technical knowledge pay off.


CEOs and other top level managers often lack a background in sales and therefore don't fully understand what professional selling requires.

Reluctantly, they may agree to implement training to pacify the company's sales managers and training department. A one shot approach to sales training however will not work.

For sales training to be effective, it must meet three requirements:

1. It must be ongoing.
2. It must be repetitious.
3. It must have real-world application.


Although it's hard to believe, companies often center their sales training program around an instructor who has no sales experience. Any company using training personnel without established, proven sales track records, is only kidding itself.

You can't expect individuals who have never sold before to adequately train other people on how to do it. It's probably truer in sales training than nearly anything else: "Those who can, do...and those who can't, teach."


It's amazing to realize how much of corporate America still teaches outdated selling techniques.

These include trick questions and manipulative, high pressure selling tactics that were commonly implemented in the '70s and '80s. Techniques such as the assumptive close, assuming that the prospect wants to buy and filling out an order. Or the alternate choice technique, "Do you want it in red or blue?" And don't forget the impending event, "You better get your order in now, because the price is going to go up on the first of the month."

The old-fashioned hard sell no longer works. Today's buyer is much more sophisticated, knowledgeable, aware - and reacts adversely to the old ways of selling. In most instances, the buyer can tell when these tactics are being used. And as a result, these methods usually backfire.


Many companies believe in sales education for their sales personnel but fail to provide them the sales skills necessary to effectively use their sales education.

There's a major difference between a person having sales knowledge and the skills to use that knowledge. Consultive selling, personality styles, buyer profiles, strategic plans, tactical procedures are all good stuff, however if the salesperson lacks the skills in which to effectively use this education or many of the other tools provided to the salesperson, then they will be mediocre at best.

It is amazing to me that many companies try to make psychologists or behavior therapists out of their salespeople when we know the majority of salespeople do not make any attempt whatsoever to close the sale. Wouldn't it be more effective to teach them how to comfortably ask for an order rather than try to turn them into psychologists. When selling becomes a procedure it ceases to be a problem; if it's not a procedure it will always be a problem.


Typically, when new salespeople are brought on board, the company puts them through an orientation program, which usually provides the product knowledge necessary for any salesperson to be successful.

The actual sales training is left for the sales manager or other "qualified" personnel. The typical scenario is as follows: The manager will take the recruit out on a sales call to show him or her how to do it. With the benefit of 15 years of experience, confidence and knowledge, the manager then makes the most difficult sale appear to be as easy as falling off a log. She then turns to the recruit and says, "See, that's all there is to it."

But the manager doesn't realize that she can't transfer her 15 years of experience, her 15 years of confidence and her 15 years of knowledge to the new salesperson. However, more important than that, is that a new salesperson cannot learn how to sell effectively by trying to sell like someone else.

Why? Because each person should sell with his/her own personality and style. A salesperson will not be very successful trying to emulate someone else.


Unfortunately, corporate America often regards their sales organization as a liability, instead of an asset. Companies need to understand that their salesforce is an asset; the only asset on the corporate books that can appreciate with meaningful sales training programs and have a major impact on bottom line profits.

We hear companies say things like, "We are a company of our people, our greatest asset is our people." That's nonsense. Any company's greatest asset is not its people.

A company's greatest asset is the undeveloped potential of its people. If a company understands this and makes a commitment to the development of this asset, providing its people with continuous, effective sales training, they can expect to move ahead of their competitors in the marketplace.

An effective, on-going sales training program can provide any company with a sales differential that will leave their competitors in the dust.



Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.