Training Failure Leads to Sales Failure

Training Failure Leads to Sales Failure

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at


Want to know if a sales trainer is any good? Look at his shoes.

I was running in Charlotte yesterday on a street that I had driven on a 1,000 times before. Never noticed there was a hill there. But man, when you’re on foot, and you’ve already been running for a few miles, the slightest molehill turns into a mountain.

I was seeing the street from a different perspective, with different shoes on. I was seeing it on foot, exhausted. It was as if I had never been there before. An entire new view of the street came into focus, and I was not able (as in my car) to just step on the gas.

Sales Trainers have the same problem. They see a street (a prospect), they have a car (their training material), and they say, “step on the gas” (fancy shoes). Then the sales person goes out in his running shoes, trying to make the sale on their feet, and it’s an entirely different perspective. That trainer never told us about this mountain we have to climb. He didn’t even know it was there.

That’s because the trainer was teaching from his car. It’s easy in the car. Not so easy (and much different) from the street. Sales Training fails when the trainer only sees sales from his vehicle.

Here are a few indications the trainer is wearing the wrong shoes:

1. Trainers failing to see the sales person’s perspective of selling. Training must be approached from the prospect backwards and must be done from the prospect’s point of buying, not the trainers view of selling.

2. Trainers don’t make sales themselves. Some have never made a sale. Some haven’t sold in a decade. They’re teaching selling from a training manual perspective, and not a made-the-sale-myself-yesterday perspective. The only credibility a trainer has is his or her (recent) past sales success.

3. They train from the big theory picture, not from the real world. The real world is: rejection, calls don’t get returned, people not interested, people having satisfactory supplier, people perceiving your price is too high. Trainers MUST give real answers to real problems.

4. Trainers try to present a method or script they think will work but they’ve never actually proven it themselves. Better to have students in the class give a lesson about how great the script or technique is because they made sales. Or bring in a customer who bought and loved it.

5. Someone in the audience poisons the group at the first break. A five year veteran telling a new person, “This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Let me tell you how it is really done out in the field,” can ruin a very expensive day.

6. The trainer has poor presentation skills. In order for the trainer to get his message across, it must be done in a compelling and entertaining way.

7. Trainer is condescending. He thinks he knows everything and everyone in the audience is stupid. “Talking down” can be redefined as “not getting a message across.” Rapport is the key to message acceptance. Make friends with the audience and training results soar.

8. Trainer has no sense of humor. In order for training to “get through,” there has to be an atmosphere conducive to do so. Humor sets a positive atmosphere and opens minds. To be most effective, training must be fun.

THE REPORT CARD: Every member of the audience must say to him or herself the following 5.5 statements:

1. I like the trainer.

2. I can relate to the trainer.

3. I understand the trainer.

4. The trainer is in touch with the way I sell.

5. I respect the trainer.

5.5 I can do that.

The trainer must experience the same path in the same vehicle as the salesperson in order to be able to train realistically. SO, if you’re a trainer, my advice to you is get out your running shoes. If you’re a salesman, buy a pair for your trainer. Or go to work for a place where the trainer’s running shoes are well worn.

The closer you are to wearing the same pair of shoes, the more effective (and realistic) the training will be.

Want a great self-test to be sure your training has merit? Go jogging down the street you’re asking your salespeople to sell on. If you notice a big hill you are feeling for the first time, make a few sales calls with the boys before your next training session.


FREE GitBit… Want to test your training skills? I have developed a self-test that covers every facet of sales training. Take the “yep” or “nope” challenge self-evaluation. Just go to click Access GitBit, register and enter the words, TRAIN BILL in the search box.