3 Problems With Sales Training Content

All sales training is not created equal.

You, as a leader in a company, may want your people to be armed for battle, negotiate their way through anything, or build deep relationships. Sales training can equip them to do those things, so why doesn’t it always work

In fact, there are three major problems with most sales training content:

  1. It’s making an incorrect assumption
  2. It’s generic 
  3. It’s not made to stick


Investing in a sales program that ultimately won’t work is more than a disappointment: it could be catastrophic. Yes, extreme language. Yes, I mean it.

Let’s talk through those three problems, so you can spot them before you get under contract with “yet another” sales training program that isn’t going to equip your people.


Why am I scrutinizing sales training content so closely? Because, at ASLAN, we’re relentless about what works. And we know what doesn’t. After a few decades in this gig, we’ve refined our understanding, crafting the sales training content that equips every type of salesperson for every possible conversation. Reach out to learn more.


Sales Training Content Problem 1: “People are Open to This”

Most sales training content starts with a fatal flaw: it is built on the assumption that the customer is receptive. Open. Engaged.

It’s the idea of, “you’ve got ‘em on the hook” and sales training teaches how to reel them in.

I object. And if you think about it, so will you. 

Does reality reflect the idea that people are emotionally open to having conversations with salespeople? When was the last time you answered a sales call (or any call from an unknown number)? Are you eager to chat with people who want to sell you stuff?

I rest my case.


In fact, the majority of prospects your salespeople encounter are NOT receptive. They are not open. They are not engaged.

So rather than talking about “asking open-ended questions,” your people have to learn how to create receptivity.

It’s a huge paradigm shift. But I think that the ability to do this is the most important skill salespeople will have… starting now. And it’s what most sales training content fails to cover.

We have ways, as you might have guessed. Start by reading this: unReceptive by Tom Stanfill.


Sales Training Content Problem 2: Content is Too Generic

Generic. Fine for cereal, bad for sales training. Why? Because your salespeople are not cookie-cuttered from the same batch of dough.

  • Every salesperson’s role is different.
  • What they sell is different.


You can’t roll the same groups of people through the same generic sales training content and expect superb output. It’s just not how human nature works.

The customization and individualization of sales training makes all of the difference.

With the right sales training program, this can be scaled. 

For instance, at ASLAN, we’ve defined 11 different roles. We find out who your people are, uncovering their personalities, aptitudes, and delivering sales training content that meets them where they are.

The salesperson at Best Buy selling you a TV versus a global account manager at Merck needs different tactics. The hunter needs a different tactic than the farmer.

All sales people believe their job is the hardest. Every one of them. When we train them, if there’s one thing they don’t find applicable, then they feel everything is not applicable. 

You need sales training content that feels unique. Unique as the standard. It’s the only way to get them to listen, and it’s the only way to get them to remember what they hear.


Sales Training Content Problem 3: Content Isn’t Sticky

Speaking of remembering, the last big problem with sales training content is that it isn’t sticky. It isn’t memorable.

And before you say, “but people’s attention spans!…” remember that people are conditioned to consume content at the highest volumes of all time. People read constantly. Microcontent, maybe, but they still read. They watch videos all of the time. They are hungry to learn new things.

So, what makes learning stick? 

This idea — why some ideas survive and others die — is addressed by Chip and Dan Heath in the NY Times Bestselling book, Made to Stick.

There are all sorts of approaches that can be infused into sales training content to make it sticky. We even leverage some from the Heaths’ book: things like piquing curiosity, being provocative, delivering for every learning style, reiterating in multiple experiences/methods.

Sales training is pedagogically driven, which means that it’s an educational practice that needs to be founded on sound principles in neurology, psychology, sociology, behavioral science, and more.

That’s some rigor, and not one you’ll find on most sales training programs. But creating that stickiness, so your people remember, is essential to capturing a return on the investment. 


Pursuing Long-Term Change

Sales training at its most effective will change how your people think, which will change how they behave.

To avoid the three big problems listed above:

  • Discard the notion that people are “already open”
  • Forego the generic boilerplate stuff
  • Get sticky

Done right, sales training gives your people a shot at gaining real skills that yield real results.


If you want to investigate sales training that works, connect with us anytime.

As President of ASLAN, Marc is responsible for all day-to-day operations including our sales and marketing efforts and growing our success in helping our clients be Other-Centered®.

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