Chapter 3. Ninety Percent of All Sales Force Training Fails

Duane Sparks

Action Selling

"Here's the problem—and the solution."


Investing in training for your sales force seems like a perfectly sensible business practice. It must be a smart thing to do; after all, sales training is estimated to be a billion-dollar industry.

Here's the problem: 90 percent of the training that salespeople receive fails to produce meaningful, long-term performance gains.

A billion-dollar industry with a 90 percent failure rate? Even I'm disgusted with that.


With the ever-accelerating speed of change in both knowledge and technology, it is clear that we have a choice: We either continue to learn, or we allow our skills and knowledge to become obsolete.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard "We hire only experienced salespeople," as if that were a solution. The idea that sales experience is a "living textbook" has two major pitfalls:

  1. As the world changes, our methods for dealing with situations lag behind. Therefore, we continue to make the same selling errors time and time again.

  2. In a sales career spanning 30 years, the same one year's worth of experience can be repeated 30 times.

Aberdeen Group, a highly regarded research firm, reports that even in a constricted economy, best-in-class companies are increasing revenues by 20 percent more than laggard firms, through the use of sales training. So, how do the top 10 percent of companies ...

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