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What Is Sales Training?

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Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

The most effective sales training focuses on true behavior change. Skills need to be learned, absorbed, and applied on the job. When done right, training can help organizations achieve their growth goals, such as increasing win rates, growing strategic accounts, improving sales cycle time, building pipeline, increasing average deal size, and more.

The global market for sales training is approximately $4.6 billion, yet most sales training fails to deliver lasting results.

This is because most companies don't define and approach sales training properly. Often, training is treated as a 1- or 2-day program with no follow-up. Sellers are left to their own devices, expected to retain the information from training and recognize where to apply it.

When you consider that 77% of learning is forgotten in just 6 days if not reinforced, it's no wonder that most sales training doesn't produce the desired results over the long term.

To deliver effective sales training, you need to redefine what sales training is. Focus on changing your sellers' behavior to drive sales results and support the effort as a change management initiative.


3 Pillars of Effective Sales Training

At RAIN Group, we believe that the best sales training is built on three pillars: Craft, Deliver, and Enable. We call this the Execution Assurance Framework.

To learn more about our approach to training, watch the video below.


Think first about the business results and metrics you’re seeking to drive and then develop a change strategy to achieve them. The training curriculum and programs should be specifically designed to drive the desired change.


Sales training delivery should be purpose built for the adult learner. It must be practical, interactive, and impactful. In other words, sellers need training they can put to use immediately to achieve results. This means the training needs to ensure the development, adoption, and implementation of new skills.

For example, pre-work in advance of training sessions may include some combination of micro learning, short videos, and interactive exercises. This would be followed by classroom sessions delivered virtually or in person and which focus on practice, application, and feedback. Don’t think lectures; think hands-on learning.


A regular, ongoing rhythm of action-oriented coaching allows sales managers to provide direct feedback to sellers, reinforces the skills and knowledge learned during training, and holds sellers accountable to execute at high levels. Sales teams build confidence week by week.


What Makes Effective Sales Training?

The most effective sales training builds on the three pillars with:


Sales Training Benefits

When done right, sales training can change seller behavior and improve business results. Organizations should approach training with business goals in mind, and work with their training provider to determine how best to achieve them.

Similarly, KPIs for sales training will vary based on need, but may include any of the following:

  • Win rate
  • Revenue growth
  • Engagement size
  • Sales margin
  • Conversion rate
  • Number of referrals
  • Customer outreach
  • Length of sales cycle
  • Pipeline activity
  • Seller quotas

Discover additional sales metrics that may be relevant for your business in our Essential List of Sales Metrics.


Sales Training Programs

Sales training can be broken down into a number of topics and skills. Sales training programs should cover the spectrum of the sales process, from finding new clients and winning sales opportunities to growing accounts and managing sellers.

Sales training topics that are core to driving the greatest success and improvements in sales competencies include:


Sales Training Delivery

In-person or virtual training sessions are a core part of any training initiative, but it's important to note that what happens after the training is equally as important as what happens during the training. Sales training must be designed with the intention of making it stick. If delivery doesn’t accomplish this, it won’t result in long-term change for sellers.

There are generally three ways training can be developed and delivered:

  1. Develop your own sales training programs
  2. License third party sales training programs and have your trainers certified to deliver the methodology
  3. Partner with a third-party sales training company

Each has its advantages and disadvantages and should be leveraged for different companies depending on their size and goals.

Regardless of the initial training, all sales training should have a robust reinforcement plan in place. Sales coaching around goal setting, action planning, execution, and ongoing accountability is key to driving long-term behavior change in sellers.

To be a truly successful sales organization, stop thinking about sales training as a way to build certain skills and start thinking of it as a change initiative. When you do this, you're likely to achieve much stronger results.

The Complete Guide to Sales Training Success


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Topics: Sales Training