Why Sales Training Programs Fail – Part 4: No Consistent or Sustainable Reinforcement of the Program

For the next few weeks, XINNIX EVP, Michael “Go-To” Norton, will be sharing a special 12-part blog series he has written – “Why Sales Training Programs Fail.” Check back each Friday to read the latest installment of the series! Read the whole series here.

In the early days of planning to buy, build, and implement a sales training solution, organizations include reinforcement as a “must have” in order to make sure the training sticks and that the sales teams adopt and use the sales skills and techniques learned during training. 

Even when vetting potential training partners, reinforcement garners a lot of attention. Companies want to know what is available to their teams post-training as far as access to content, techniques, and best practices that can be shared and reinforced. And, most of the top training organizations have built some very dynamic and robust tools when it comes to supporting the learning after the initial classes have taken place. 

The available modalities for reinforcement include VILT or Virtual Instructor Led Training, Podcasts, Online Courses, Online Short-Form Tips and Techniques, Coaching and Mentoring, Conference Calls, Webinars, and future ILT or Instructor Led Training, as well as attendance to local, regional, or national seminars. There is available technology and apps that include gamification to help make it fun and engaging. And there are ways to build the content and selling system into the company’s CRM so that access to the programming is pushed into the salespersons workflow. And in almost all cases the reinforcement content, tools, and technology are all available on the salesperson’s mobile device. 

It is so easy. This should be an absolute no-brainer for salespeople when it comes to continuous learning and leveraging the tools and technology to further understand the new selling system that they just learned and practiced in the classroom. Sales managers have access to the same content, technology, and tools so that they too can learn the selling system and become even stronger at coaching to the system. Training companies have really made huge investments so that their clients can accelerate and maximize success.  

Yes, it is easy. But here is the problem. The data shows that only a small percentage of sales managers and sales leaders ever access the reinforcement tools and technology that are available to them. And when management doesn’t use the available reinforcement modalities, the salespeople are even less likely to use the tools.  

The fix is easy too. Keep reinforcement as a priority. Set expectations around how the sales team will utilize the tools and the inspect what is expected. Make it mandatory that sales management and sales leadership have courses and content that they are required to participate in so that they become increasingly comfortable with the selling system and how to coach to it. The fix is easy because you can manage the behaviors of using the tools. And if the behaviors are managed properly, measuring success will become easier. 

Best Practice #1:  Make reinforcement is a “must have” in any training program that is bought or built and do not allow it to become a “nice-to-have.” If the company is looking for an increase in the adoption and utilization of the selling process or system, the content and concepts must be consistently reinforced.  

Best Practice #2: Leadership and all levels of management need to demonstrate the company’s commitment to the program. The adoption of the system and consistent use of the language and concepts of the new selling system will take root when leadership and management become familiar with what is available in the reinforcement tool kit.  

Best Practice #3: Understand which reinforcement tools and technologies will work within your organization. There is no reason to purchase supporting tools, apps, games, and coaching hours if these are not practical within the company. This does not mean to abandon any reinforcement or sustainability measures, this simply means understand what works within your team, company, and culture and then go all-in on those reinforcement modalities.   

Remember, reinforcement was a huge part of the decision-making process when deciding which training company to partner with. It was also a decision point when evaluating whether on not to build your own sales training program. Reinforcement was listed as a “must have.” When companies allow reinforcement to become a “nice-to-have” and do not set proper expectations for the sales team, all of the VILT, Podcasts, Coaching and Mentoring, Additional ILT days, Webinars, Gamification, and Apps are for naught.


Written by Michael “Go-To” Norton, XINNIX EVP, former CEO and Founder of Tramazing, former President of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, and former Executive Vice President of Sandler Corporate Training, Michael Norton has helped companies accelerate their growth by elevating their talent through learning and development programs.

Michael has had the pleasure of working with world-class companies such as Siemens Healthcare, WebMD, 7-Up, Cardinal Health, Cemex, Boral, HPE, Indeed, Lonza, KONE, Evonik, Quest Software, Dell, Anixter, and many more. for 30+ years he has developed, written, delivered, reinforced, and sold sales and sales management training programs that deliver real ROI while fitting into a company’s culture, processes, daily sales workflow, and budget.

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