ATD Blog

RIP Sales Training

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Sales training is over.

What once worked is no longer as effective, and it’s time to make some changes.

According to ES Research, 95 percent of companies invest in sales training, yet only 9 percent of companies see behavioral changes in trainees. At the same time, according to 75 percent of sales reps think their approach differentiates them from their competitors, but only 3 percent of their customers agree.

It’s time to catch up with the buyers.


Today, those customers aren’t just seeking a sales force that will listen to their needs and fulfill them. They’re looking for partners who understand the business as well as, if not better than, the buyers, themselves. The distinguishing characteristics of a winning sales force lies not in its ability to take orders, but to actually create demand. That means identifying needs and solutions before the buyer even considers them.

Research shows that sellers need help in the following areas:

  • gaining political alignment and correctly identifying influence 
  • providing unexpected value to buyers 
  • differentiating themselves from competitors to formulate a sales strategy.

Here’s the challenge: traditional, one-size-fits-all training methods aren’t working. Outdated training methods and CRMs simply don’t address the ways people learn today, which means sellers aren’t prepared for success.


What sellers need is situational learning, which changes behaviors and creates new habits. This kind of learning is immersive learning that best takes place in an active environment—not in a passive classroom. By “flipping the classroom,” sales teams can learn quickly on the spot through online simulations, behavioral analytics and other tools designed to specifically help adults learn.

By focusing on sales performance, rather than training, you can develop demand creators that deliver results. In fact, research shows that demand creators bring in deal sizes three times larger than the average deal. Not only that, they bring in 15 percent higher win rates, 10 percent higher goal attainment, 5 percent higher renewal rates, a 2.5 percent shorter cycle and 15 percent higher client satisfaction.

It’s true, sales training is dead. But sales performance can be on the rise, if you know how to create demand.

About the Author

CEO, Holden International Ryan Kubacki has led Holden since 2006, further solidifying its position as a global leader of sales performance development. Driving Holden’s commitment to improving competitive advantage through transforming how organizations sell, he has spearheaded the creation of the Holden Adaptive Platform. This new way of developing sellers is centered on instilling game-changing habits. Through online simulations, deal coaching and consulting, and sales software, improvement is an ongoing, effective experience as opposed to a one-time event. Ryan is a recognized authority in innovative instructional design who creates sustainable sales and business development. He co-authored The New Power Base Selling with Jim Holden. Based on data from one of the most comprehensive sales industry surveys, plus more than 50,000 live deal reviews, The New Power Base Selling presents sales as a science. It helps organizations understand how superior sellers win business and how to replicate it across their teams.

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