How to leverage skill training more effectively

Tips for managers to make sure training works.


If you are a sales leader, why should you care about skill training and how does that help you improve sales performance? Two or three times a year there is a sales meeting to roll out new marketing content, information on how to handle different objections and maybe a little skill-building. Often there is too much content to fit into such a short amount of time, causing the proverbial brain overload. How do you get the most out of this training to make it stick and long-lasting? Data suggest that only 15-20% of trainees use their increased capabilities that ever have a meaningful impact. How do you beat those odds? Three tips to make the training come to life include coaching, just in time tools and repetition.  

Training lives and dies with the manager. Managers are held accountable for sales results but often aren’t held accountable for supporting training their people. 90% of the value of training comes before and after the training intervention. Bad training can survive with good coaching, but good training will die with bad coaching. Effective organizations have Managers that coach and provide feedback. It should be the same when it comes to training.  

Create just in time tools for trainees to use post-training. Whether you are a manager or sales rep much of what you learned will be lost unless there are support tools. I remember being a District Manager and having a laminated 5×7 sheet that I would keep in my planner and refer to it especially prior to high-stake coaching session. It was a tool that I used over the course of several companies. The same types of tools work for sales reps who are preparing for important sales calls. Having available tools will help support their learning curve.  With technology many of these tools can be uploaded to smart phones, ipads or even put into apps.

Many times I will go to conferences and hear managers tell me that their people are experienced and don’t need training. Really? Elite teams and individuals train all the time and often focus on the basics. I had a Director of Training who would always say repetition builds retention. I learned this motto in the army. As an Ordnance officer in a maintenance unit, we conducted preventative maintenance and training every Wednesday. We did plenty of redundant, boring and mind-numbing first aid training. This became very important during a field exercise when my Platoon Sergeant broke his ankle. I directed the ambulance coming to pick him up while also having responsibility for maneuvering 300 soldiers into position to complete our mission. It was almost like second nature because of the training. You can push people to demonstrate a higher level of knowledge by using tools like Bloom’s Taxonomy to increase the breadth and depth of knowledge of your teams. Ultimately you want people to have unconscious competence especially in core skill areas which should lead to better results. 

Let me know your thoughts around how you pull-through training with your customer facing teams or contact me at