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Learning Objectives. Identify the key issues in sales training for the 21st century Understand the objectives of sales training Discuss the development of sales training programs Understand the training of new sales recruits and experienced salespeople

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learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • Identify the key issues in sales training for the 21st century
  • Understand the objectives of sales training
  • Discuss the development of sales training programs
  • Understand the training of new sales recruits and experienced salespeople
  • Define the topics covered in a sales training program
  • Understand the various methods for conducting sales training
  • Discuss how to measure the costs and benefits of sales training
key terms
Key Terms

Sales training analysis

Role playing

On the Job Training (OJT)

Electronic training methods

Sales training costs

characteristics of a successful salesperson



Sales Record



Characteristics of a Successful Salesperson

(percent of all characteristics cited; multiple responses were possible)

Committed to quality and customer service, aggressiveness, persistent, self-confident


Sales, problem-solving, communication, time management


Product, industry, market


Meets objectives


Completes paperwork, political acumen




Meg Kerr and Bill Burzynski, “Missing the Target: Sales Training in America,” Training and Development Journal, (July 1988), p. 68.

program content versus characteristics of success




Program Content Versus Characteristics of Success

Program Content: 1-3 Years Seniority

Characteristics of Success*

Program Content: New Hires










*See Exhibit 1 for additional characteristics.



Meg Kerr and Bill Burzynski, “Missing the Target: Sales Training in America,” Training and Development Journal, (July 1988), p. 69.

sales training issues
Sales Training Issues
  • When determining sales training needs, three issues that must be considered:
  • Who should be trained?
  • What should be the primary emphasis in the training program?
  • How should the training process be structured:
    • on-the-job?
    • formal centralized program?
    • field initiatives and participation?
sales training objectives
Sales Training Objectives

Increase Productivity: Provide trainees with the necessary skills so their selling performance makes a positive contribution to the firm.

Improve Morale: Prepare trainees with “how to” instruction on perform tasks so their productivity increases as quickly as possible.

Lower Turnover: Improve morale and increase job satisfaction through effective training.

Improve Customer Relations: Create continuity in customer relationships, build productive partnerships and increase customer satisfaction through more skillful performance.

Improve Selling Skills: Time and territory management.

obstacles to introducing a sales training program
Obstacles to Introducing a Sales Training Program
  • Top management is not dedicated to sales training.
  • Sales training programs are not adequately funded.
  • Salespeople are apathetic about sales training.
  • Salespeople resent training's intrusion on their time.
  • Salespeople resist changes suggested by training programs.
a well designed sales training program will
A Well-Designed Sales Training Program will:
  • Analyze sales force needs.
  • Set specific, realistic, and measurable training objectives.
  • Allow adequate develop and timely, effective implement of the program.
  • Subject itself to evaluation and review.
  • Modify any aspect of the program to achieve greater effectiveness.
analyzing the training needs of the sales force
Analyzing the Training Needs of the Sales Force


Information Sources and Processes

Analyze needs

Set specific, realistic, and measurable objectives

Develop and Implement Program

Evaluate and Review Program

Job analysis, job description, etc

Review needs, consider short-term and long-run issues, compare training objectives with company goals

Evaluate previous training methods, consider cost/benefits of various training programs

Develop monitoring system, monitor and revise

training new sales recruits
Training New Sales Recruits
  • Most larger companies train new sales recruits in programs differing in length and content because . . .
  • Training needs vary from firm to firm and even within a firm to because of differing specific needs.
  • Training needs vary because of differences in the needs and aptitudes of the recruits.
  • Variation in the length of training programs occurs due to company philosophy.
training experienced sales personnel
Training Experienced Sales Personnel
  • Most larger companies provide training programs for experienced personnel because . . .
  • Time erodes the value of earlier training.
  • Marketplaces change and knowledge become obsolete.
  • Management endorses the “lifelong learning” concept.
  • The best performers find value in refresher sessions.
  • Corporate culture, morale and job satisfaction can be influenced and improved.
sales training topics
Sales Training Topics
  • Program content for training new sales personnel tends to remain constant over time within a firm. Topics include . . .
  • Product or service knowledge,
  • Market/Industry orientation,
  • Company orientation, and
  • Selling skills.
product knowledge
Product Knowledge
  • Product knowledge ranks among the most important topics. However, knowing when and how to discuss the subject in a sales call ranks even higher.
  • Companies that produce technical products spend a greater amount of time on product knowledge than do manufactures of non-technical products.
  • Product knowledge involves . . .
    • Knowing how the product is made
    • How the product is commonly used, and
    • How it should not be used.
product knowledge1
Product Knowledge
  • Customers often want to know how competitive products compare on . . .
    • price,
    • construction,
    • performance, and
    • compatibility with each other.
  • Product knowledge enables a salesperson to provide prospects and customers with the critical information for rational decision-making.
market industry orientation
Market/Industry Orientation

Salespeople need to know how their particular industry fits into the overall economy.

Forecasting sales and setting quotas requires knowledge of the industry and the economy.

Economic fluctuations affect buying behavior and requires adaptive selling techniques .

Salespeople need to understand customers' buying policies, patterns and preferences in light of competition.

Sales reps need to be knowledgeable about their customers' customers and what satisfies them.

Missionary salespeople must know the needs of both wholesalers and retailers.

company orientation
Company Orientation

Sales trainees must be aware of company polices that affect their selling activities.

Sales representatives can expect customers to request price adjustments, product modifications, faster delivery and different credit terms. How are these handles?

Major corporations provide the sales force with sales manuals that cover product line information and company polices.

A well-prepared sales manual gives a sales representative quick answers to a customer's questions.

time and territory management
Time and Territory Management
  • Sales trainees need assistance to learn how to manage their time and territories to be maximally productive.
  • The familiar 80/20 rule applies.
    • 20% of the customers account for
    • 80% of the business and
    • Require a direct proportion of time and attention.
  • The need to be more effective in time and territory management has led to greater telephone usage with appropriate telemarketing sales training courses.
legal ethical issues
Legal/Ethical Issues

Federal law dictates corporate action or avoidance of action in areas of marketing, sales and pricing.

Sales personnel need to understand the federal, state and local laws that will constrain their selling activities.

Statements - or rather, misstatements- made by salespeople carry both legal and ethical implications.

Lapses in ethical conduct often leads to legal problems.


Many companies issue salespeople laptop computers for presentations, connecting to the company intranet or extranet and for delivering documentation quickly and accurately.

Some companies create "home offices" for their sales force, thus eliminating the need to go to another office.

Armed with high-speed network connections, laptop or desktop computer, printer, and cell phone, a salesperson can work independently and be almost totally self-sufficient.

technology continued
Technology (continued)
  • In some cases, a sales rep can access the company's . . .
  • Decision support system (DSS) to learn what products selling well in an area or to a specific customer.
  • Production schedule to check delivery times.
  • Customer relationship database to gather background and history on a customer or prospect.
  • Companies find that effective computer use affords sales personnel more face-to-face customer contact time and improved customer service through information availability.
methods used in sales training
Methods Used in Sales Training


% of firms offering

0 25 50 75 100

On-the-job 84.3

Individual Instruction 69.8

In-house classes 60.8

External seminars 71

Home assignments 17.7

Other 6.7

methods used in sales training1
Methods Used in Sales Training

Instructional Delivery Method 

Classroom with instructor 100%

Workbook/manuals 98%

Public seminars 93%

Videotapes 92%

CD-ROM 87%

Self-Assessment 82%

Role-play 81%

Non-computer, self study 79%

Case Studies 78%

Internet 74%

Non-computer-based games 72%

Computer-based games 57%

Audiocassettes 55%

Teleconferencing 53%

Videoconferencing groups 41%

on the job training
On-the-Job Training

Some folks find thought of "learning by doing" (OJT) psychologically uncomfortable.

OJT should be a carefully planned process affording new recruits the opportunity to learn by doing, while earning and being productive.

A good OTJ program contains established procedures for evaluating and reviewing a trainee's progress

Research over the last three years suggests that informal on-the-job training is a very effective way of learning for salespeople

On-the-job training and coaching often occur together

classroom training
Classroom Training
  • Formal classroom training represents an indispensable part of sales training but very few companies rely solely on it . . .
  • A trainee receives standard briefings in product knowledge, company polices, customer and market characteristics, and selling skills.
  • Formal training sessions avoid wasting executive time meeting and briefing an entire group of trainees at once.
  • Classroom sessions permit the use of audiovisual materials such as movies and videotapes and technical resources like computers and databases.
  • Interaction between sales trainees builds camaraderie.
electronic training methods
Electronic Training Methods

The Internet, especially the World Wide Web and its graphics, revolutionized delivery of training.

Quality learning experiences can be delivered to staff and customers over the Internet.

Online universities offer a wide array of courses through the doctoral level.

Online training continues to grow exponentially.

Training can also be delivered via CD-ROM and DVD.

measuring the costs and benefits
Measuring the Costs and Benefits

Sales training consumes substantial time, budget and support resources. It’s very costly activity

The relationship between sales training and revenue lies obscured in a complex process with delayed payoffs.

Pinning down the relationship between sales training and its financial benefits requires thought and effort.

Most sales organizations express blind faith by assuming that their sales training programs succeed.

measuring broad benefits
Measuring Broad Benefits
  • Broad benefits of sales training include . . .
    • Improved morale,
    • Lower turnover,
    • Higher customer satisfaction, and
    • Demonstrate management’s commitment to quality and continuous improvement.
  • Measuring change in skills, reactions and learning assists both new and experienced sales personnel.