ATD Blog

Building a Practice-Driven Sales Team

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Sales leaders agree on today’s top sales training challenges: It’s too expensive, there’s not enough time, and there’s a lack of engagement. The majority also question the effectiveness of their current sales training programs. Yet organizations continue to invest significant amounts of time, money, and effort toward training their sales teams.

The current complexity of the business landscape demands that sales teams continuously hone and develop higher-level sales skills. Ultimately, well-trained sales professionals are the critical engine that drives the business forward.

Practice-Driven Sales Development

According to research from the Aberdeen Group, best-in-class sales teams received 17 percent more formal training per month compared to underperformers. The same research also found that modern sales professionals are most effectively developed by “empowering them to do their job regardless of time of day, physical location, or computing device.” So for sales training to have measurable, positive impact, it must be frequent and delivered seamlessly to avoid impeding how modern sales professionals tackle daily demands.

How do sales leaders address the top training challenges and achieve best-in-class results?

It takes a shift in mindset: Leaders need to go beyond traditional sales training—episodic events that interrupt daily workflow—and create a practice-driven selling culture where learning and practice are seamless and continuous.

The Future of Sales Training: A Practice-Driven Selling Culture

The future sales training model connects with a majority of the Millennial workforce, promotes continuous learning, and fosters engagement. In this model, sales training events are replaced with a skill-building environment where sales professionals can:

  • continuously learn and improve
  • engage in their own growth and empower others to grow
  • easily attain and share their expertise or best practices.

There’s no denying the impact that the needs and expectations of Millennials are having on organizational development and training. The reality is that modern sales leaders are facing significant challenges in adapting to a wide range of learning and management preferences.


Forward-thinking sales leaders are focused on designing a training environment that empowers their teams through a seamless connection between their work and learning. This starts with shifting from a traditional sales training framework to embedding a practice-driven selling culture. In this sort of practice-driven sales team, sellers are not waiting on training events but are empowered to reach their full potential and foster a selling environment where personal and business growth align so the organization can thrive.

Promote Skill-Building Through Continuous Learning

Best-in-class companies are more likely to follow up traditional sales training with ongoing reinforcement. They embrace a continuous learning model that supports the ongoing development of skills and competencies by leveraging technology to deliver frequent, bite-sized, peer-driven, and engaging learning opportunities.

Indeed, continuous learning has become the pathway for shaping a successful organization of the future. Here are some key characteristics of continuous learning:

  • Learning experiences are frequent and on-demand.
  • There is a a clear development path from novice, to practitioner, to expert.
  • Social learning is integral.
  • Performance and knowledge application is assessed.
  • Impact is tied to organizational performance.

Organizations that offer ongoing, continuous sales learning compared to companies who focus their sales training exclusively around onboarding exceed their sales goals around the following key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • team attainment of sales goals
  • customer renewal rates
  • all reps hitting sales goals
  • first-year reps hitting sales goals.

Empower Growth Through Collaboration

High-performing sales organizations are best-in-class because they formally promote collaboration among their sales teams. Peer-to-peer collaboration leads to higher employee engagement, which leads to specific business results, such as:

  • shorter onboarding
  • increased retention
  • decreased attrition
  • greater motivation
  • increased customer focus.

Some sales leaders assume their teams are reluctant to collaborate because of their competitive nature. In reality, the competitive nature of successful sales teams is the reason they gravitate toward peer-to-peer collaboration. Why? Modern sales professionals absorb feedback from peers more readily than they do from managers who are often removed from the day-to-day selling activities.

Want to learn more about creating a practice-driven selling culture? Check out our e-book, The Sales Leader’s Handbook for Building a Practice-Driven Sales Team.

About the Author

Ed Armentor is professional development specialist and lead corporate trainer at Instructure. He works closely with our Bridge Learning Division where he manages the training, learning, development, performance and engagement of our corporate teams and key players. A creative solver of people problems, Ed brings innovative ideas leveraging learning and development technology to impact how we learn. His research interests include message crafting & delivery, organizational development, employee engagement, and interpersonal communication.

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