Sales Training That Actually Works - Action Selling ®

Sales Training That Actually Works

OCTOBER 2019 – ISSUE 185


Dear Sales Executive:

How is it that salespeople who achieve certification in the Action Selling ® system are able to improve their revenue performance at six times (6X) the rate of non-certified salespeople…and to achieve higher margins at the same time?

That is pretty remarkable, after all, given that it’s hard to discern ANY lasting performance boost in the wake of most sales-training programs.

Boosting sales and margin performance is the only sensible reason to invest in sales training in the first place. So why is Action Selling ® so very rare in its ability to do the thing that all sales training is supposed to do? Glad you asked.

If you have a question about how to make sales training pay off with spectacular results, click on “Ask The eCoach“.

We are committed to your professional success.

Duane Sparks
Author of Action Selling ®


Team Sales CultureIn light of centuries of study and research into education and learning, it ought to be no secret how to design a training process that leads to genuine, tangible improvements in job performance. But given most of the sales training that goes on in companies, this appears to be a mystery. Studies show that 90% of sales training produces no measurable results in the form of higher revenue, better profit margins, increased market share—nothing having to do with a company’s bottom line.

Yet, training in the Action Selling ® system produces tangible, measurable, and often dramatic improvements in those bottom-line numbers—the numbers that track things we really care about when we speak of “performance improvement” in a sales force. Why is that, exactly?

Here are a few important rules that apply to any sales training effort. They help explain why the Action Selling ® process achieves actual (6X!) boosts in sales performance.

Teach skills, not traits.First, let’s concede that any number of attributes and personality traits—motivation, an upbeat and outgoing nature—may play a role in sales success. The trouble is, you can’t teach personality or motivation. And, salespeople can’t “learn” it. Much as we might like to transform the personalities of our salespeople, we lack the ability—and so do they.


What we can improve, with proper training and support, are the skills of our salespeople. If we want tangible improvements in performance, training needs to focus on skills that we know can be taught and learned.

Teach the right skills.f the key to designing training that really works is to teach actual skills, the question becomes, which skills? There is little point in mastering skills that do not produce tangible improvements in job performance. And, while there might be 100 factors that have at least some minor bearing on performance, you can’t teach salespeople 100 different things—not to mastery level, where they might make a significant difference.

In fact, you should be able to predict what performance change will occur if a given student’s benchmark skill level is raised to mastery level upon certification. Without some reasonable guarantee of a return on investment in training, why do it?

Focus on the highest impact skills. We can’t teach salespeople 100 different things, but we can teach the five most critical selling skills. In the previous edition of eCoach, I identified those five skills and explained how we know that they are the ones that matter most. Here, again, is the list: 1. Buyer/Seller Relationship. 2. Sales Call Planning. 3. Questioning Skills. 4. Presentation Skills. 5. Gain Commitment.

Reinforce on the job. Management support must include help in transferring learning from the training course into the field. If a training program doesn’t include the necessary measurement and reinforcement ingredients for learning transfer, don’t waste your time and money on it.

Measure, measure, measure. You’ve heard the expression, “What gets measured, gets done.” In training, what gets measured gets learned.

Measurement of knowledge gained and of skills applied on the job provides motivation to learn because measurement holds students accountable. If a training initiative lacks a validated assessment that measures mastery of the skills being taught, don’t do it.

For a fuller discussion of the learning principles and the critical skills that go into creating sales training that makes a spectacular difference, download our free white paper, 5 Secrets to Record-Breaking Sales.

Action Selling ® in Action  “Sales managers, if you want the best sales team in your industry, use Action Selling ® to develop them,” urges Craig Rand, director of quality and training for Wesco Distribution, a multinational electronics distribution and services company based in Pittsburgh.

For three decades, The Sales Board has been measuring the skills of working salespeople before, during, and after training. We also have measured changes in their sales performance (revenue and margins) following training. More than 400,000 salespeople, from over 3,500 companies, have been benchmarked. It is that ground-breaking research that allowed us to identify the five teachable, learnable skills that contribute most dramatically to sales success.

As for the principles upon which our training is based—teach skills, not personality traits; reinforce; measure—they were derived from serious study of the literature surrounding training and education. Our faith in these principles has only been reinforced by 30 years of experience teaching people how to sell like professionals.

For information about how to make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling ® at (800) 232-3485.

Want more depth about the critical skills and the learning principles that underlie the best sales training on the market? See our free white paper,5 Secrets to Record-Breaking Sales.