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ATD Blog

ATD Research Presents: 2019 State of Sales Training

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Sales training is an essential part of an organization’s talent development efforts, and it seems many organizations are keenly aware of its importance in moving the business forward. In fact, ATD Research recently surveyed 200 sales training professionals and found that organizations spent an average of $2,326 (median = $1,000) per salesperson on sales training annually. ATD’s latest research report, 2019 State of Sales Training, examines not only the organizations’ spending on sales training, but also the barriers to effective sales training, delivery methods, and the distribution of annual sales training content hours. The report is sponsored by Richardson.

Key Findings

Study findings showed that sales training helps organizations meet their sales goals to a high or very high extent, according to 42 percent of organizations. The same percent said it helped meet sales goals to a moderate extent. The study also found that organizations are faced with a number of challenges when it comes to sales training. Participants reported the top challenges were that salespeople were not held accountable for applying skills learned in training, an inability to tie sales training to sales performance, and scheduling conflicts.


The report outlines several recommendations and best practices for sales training. To see more of what the subject matter experts had to say, read the full report. Below are two highlighted recommendations.


Get social. The study found that salespeople were most likely to learn by observing peers or asking them questions. At Curvature, Donna McCurley, director of sales enablement, leads an activity wherein salespeople are tasked with reaching out to their peers to learn about the buyer, the product, and the tools and resources they used in a given situation. “We do a lot of activities with new hires requiring them to interview peers, marketing, quoting teams, sales resources, and so on,” McCurley explains. “When they go on a field ride they have a list of questions they use before and after customer visits. We believe if we teach reps where to find information they will become more resourceful versus spending time trying to find answers on their own.”

Speak the language. A top challenge identified by participants was that sales and business leaders don’t view sales training as important to the business. This, of course, is problematic for talent development professionals. Sometimes it’s difficult to get those outside of talent development to support sales training in a meaningful way. “The details of our work in sales training sometimes distances us from our sales leaders,” says Tony Mattair, director of sales training at Integra LifeSciences. “One thing we’re doing right now at my organization is applying focus to speaking in the same language that our sales leaders speak.”


Learn More

The full report is available for purchase at for a member price of $199 ($499 for nonmembers). There is also a whitepaper, which is complimentary for ATD members and $19.99 for nonmembers. ATD will also be hosting a free webcast on the report on March 20 at 2 p.m. ET; you can register online now.

Visit the ATD Research page to learn more.

About the Author

Megan Cole is a former ATD research analyst. Her primary responsibilities included creating and programming surveys, cleaning and analyzing data, and writing research reports for publication.

She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Florida and earned a doctorate in communication from Arizona State University. 

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