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Three Pillars of Successful Sales Training

Friday, February 28, 2020

The corporate training industry is big business. So why doesn’t it always, or even most of the time, produce a return on investment for the companies that pay for it?

That’s a secret only a few training companies have uncovered.

Here are some numbers that paint a picture of what’s going on. A recent Association for Talent Development study found that a whopping $164.2 billion is spent on employee learning and development every single year. At the same time, a Workplace Learning Report from LinkedIn Learning discovered that only 8 percent of CEOs see an ROI for learning and development, yet more than over 90 percent of them feel that closing the skills gap by using training would be a game-changer for their business.

Nearly everyone wants training, yet it’s failing most of the people who seek it out. What’s the deal?

Every leader wants training that pushes their company forward, yet so few get it because they didn't have the tools to identify why their training was failing. More importantly, they likely didn’t have an outcome frame for what makes for a successful training experience in the first place.

Over the course of my career in training, I’ve uncovered some of the reasons why it does succeed and what to look for in training that moves the needle for you. Let’s take a look at the three biggest pillars behind training that will help you create your business empire.


1. Use Beliefs-Based Training

Training engagement is predicated on behavioral change. Gallup research shows that employee productivity typically spikes after one-off events and returns to previous levels after 90 days because that training only sought to change behavior, not address the underlying belief behind it. Training that moves people moves their beliefs about their abilities and their capabilities.

Think about taking a car with an engine problem in for a paint job. It may look great, but it won’t run. I see companies do this all the time with training. They bring in high-profile trainers for one-off speaking engagements and everyone gets fired up, but there’s no ongoing belief change. Nothing changes in the end. Address the underlying beliefs and you get the change you’re looking for.

2. Train Your Coaches

Training today is primarily targeted at frontline employees. Training these employees is a good thing—necessary even. But the success (or failure) of your training initiatives is entirely reliant on the buy-in and effort of your coaches. Your coaching culture dictates your success, and developing coaches who advocate for the training, buy in themselves, and carry it out on a daily basis drives big results down the chain of command.


The health of your company is only as great as the health of your management pool. Productivity and positivity are driven from the top down. Set the tone right by training your coaches first and foremost.

3. Craft Your Culture

According to Harvard Business Review, just 40 percent of employees today feel actively engaged at work. That engagement doesn't magically increase once you start training. So how to you create a culture that wants training? You learn how to craft a culture that craves development through more engaged leadership.

When looking for a training provider, you need the cultural element too. Yes, training behaviors is an important part of the process. But creating a culture that makes it acceptable to do the right thing and unacceptable to do the wrong thing is the most important person in the room when the leader isn’t there. That’s all training. Building cultures of accountability, trust, dialogue, excellence, and drive will set your company up for long-term, sustainable success even when the boss isn’t looking. And that’s the kind of legacy you want from your training company.

To learn more, check out my session, Why Training Fails, at the ATD 2020 International Conference & EXPO.

About the Author

Jason Forrest is CEO and chief culture officer for Forrest Performance Group. He is an expert in the mindset of top 1% sales, exponential sales growth, leadership development, and leading-edge sales innovation. Jason is one of the world’s only Master Practitioners in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, the science of influence and behavioral change psychology.

As the founder and CEO of FPG, which has been named the nation’s fastest growing sales training company by Inc. Magazine for four consecutive years, Jason delivers dozens of keynotes every year and has trained thousands of salespeople and leaders on how to build mental toughness, create breakthroughs, and earn what they’re truly worth. Jason is the winner of nine international Stevie Awards for his books, sales process and training programs, ranging from sales professionals to coaches to executives.

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