Reversing the Trend: When Salespeople Struggle to Apply What They Learn


Reversing the Trend: When Salespeople Struggle to Apply What They Learn

As a sales enablement leader, you understand the importance of a well-crafted onboarding program. You put in countless hours, budget and effort to ensure that your salespeople are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. However, despite your best efforts, you often observe that your salespeople aren’t applying what they learned during onboarding.

This is a common challenge faced by even the best sales enablement leaders, and it’s frustrating when you’re not seeing the results you expected.

One of the main reasons for this is tension in the customer dialogue. When salespeople are in a conversation with a potential customer, there can be a lot of pressure to close the deal. This tension often leads to them reverting back to their old, ineffective selling habits, even if they were taught better ways to sell during onboarding.

According to Forbes, if new learning isn’t immediately applied, we lose about 75% of the knowledge and skills within 6 days. This statistic highlights the importance of not only providing sales training but also ensuring that salespeople actively applywhat they learned in their day-to-day work.

Four Strategies to Reverse the Trend

So, what can you do to ensure that your salespeople are applying what they learned during onboarding? Here are some tips:

Reinforce the learning: Onboarding shouldn’t be a one-time event. To ensure that salespeople retain what they learned, it’s important to reinforce the learning through ongoing coaching and training. This will help to embed the new knowledge and skills into their daily routine.

According to a study by the Sales Management Association, companies that provide their sales team with access to expert sales coaching see an average improvement in win rates of 15.2%.

Expert sales coaches can provide valuable insights and guidance on how to apply the skills learned during onboarding in real-world scenarios. They can help salespeople to refine their approach, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies for success. By incorporating expert sales coaching into your sales enablement program, you can help your sales team to reinforce their learning, build confidence, and ultimately achieve better outcomes.

It’s also important to note that not all sales coaching is created equal. When selecting a sales coach or training program, it’s essential to choose one that aligns with your company’s values and goals. Look for a coach or program that has a proven track record of success, and that can provide tailored guidance and support to your sales team. By doing so, you can help to ensure that your sales team is equipped with the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to succeed, and that they are able to apply what they’ve learned in real-world situations.



Provide real-time feedback: When salespeople are engaged in an ongoing customer dialogue, it’s important to provide them with real-time feedback. This can help to correct any bad habits or ineffective selling techniques and reinforce the new skills they learned during onboarding.

According to research by Salesforce, salespeople who receive real-time feedback are 4.6 times more likely to feel engaged and motivated in their role.

Real-time feedback allows salespeople to build off their strengths, and adjust their approach based on the feedback they receive, leading to better outcomes and improved performance. By providing timely and constructive feedback, sales enablement leaders can help their sales team to overcome challenges and improve their results.

In addition, real-time feedback can also help to build trust and transparency between sales enablement leaders and their sales team. It allows for open and honest communication, and provides an opportunity for salespeople to ask questions and seek clarification.

It’s important to note that providing feedback can be a delicate process, and it’s critical to do so in a way that is constructive and supportive. According to research by Zenger Folkman, salespeople who receive feedback that is delivered poorly are 20 times more likely to become disengaged than those who receive feedback that is delivered effectively.

Therefore, sales enablement leaders should aim to provide feedback in a way that is clear, specific, and actionable. By doing so, they can help their sales team to improve their performance and achieve better outcomes for the business.

Encourage practice: Just like with any new skill, practice makes perfect. Sitting through a series of PowerPoints for a couple of weeks does not make for the type of salesperson that crushes quotas.  Encourage salespeople to practice what they learned during onboarding in real-life scenarios. This will help them to gain confidence in their new skills and become more comfortable using them in their day-to-day work.

Research by shows that salespeople who practice their pitch for just one hour per week see a 20% increase in performance.

Encouraging practice allows salespeople to refine their approach and become more comfortable with the skills they learned during onboarding. By providing opportunities for practice, sales enablement leaders can help their sales team to develop the muscle memory needed to apply their skills in real-world scenarios.

Practice can take many forms, such as role-playing exercises, mock sales calls, or even informal conversations with colleagues. By incorporating regular practice into the sales enablement program, sales enablement leaders can help their sales team to build confidence and develop their skills over time.

It’s important to note that practice should be an ongoing process, and not just a one-time event. Regular practice will help salespeople stay sharp and adapt to changing market conditions, allowing them to remain competitive in a fast-paced sales environment.

By encouraging regular practice, sales enablement leaders can help their sales team to achieve better outcomes, improve their performance, and ultimately drive business growth.

Set expectations: Finally, it’s important to set expectations for your salespeople. Let them know that applying what they learned during onboarding is a critical component of their job. By setting clear expectations, you can help to create a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

According to research by CSO Insights, companies that set clear performance expectations for their sales team see a 20% increase in win rates.

Setting expectations allows salespeople to understand what is expected of them and what they need to do to achieve success. This can include setting goals for performance, outlining specific metrics for success, and providing guidance on best practices and strategies for achieving success.

By setting clear expectations, sales enablement leaders can help their sales team to stay focused and motivated, and can provide a roadmap for achieving success. It also helps to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals, and that there is alignment between the sales team and the overall business objectives.

In addition, setting expectations will also  foster accountability within the sales team. By setting clear expectations for performance, sales enablement leaders can hold their sales team accountable for achieving their goals, and can provide support and guidance when needed to help them succeed.

When sales enablement leaders set expectations the right way it helps to drive improved performance, increased win rates, and ultimately, business growth.

Onboarding is just the first step in equipping your salespeople with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. To ensure that they are applying what they learned, it’s important to reinforce the learning, provide real-time feedback, encourage practice, and set clear expectations. By doing so, you can help your sales team to become more effective and successful in their role.


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Global Performance Group is a worldwide leader in behavioral transformation with experts in procurement strategies, sales methodologies and leadership and team development practices. We have over 30 years of experience working with large companies in 14 languages and six continents. Contact us online to learn more about our sales training programs!

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