Most sales "training" is a waste of time

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Fri, Feb 21, 2020

Good morning!  looks like a great Friday coming into a sunny weekend!

A couple of years ago, we drilled down into actually studying the data behind the problem of the lack of improvement in productivity on the part of B2B salespeople, and along the way, we came up with a number of sales factoids:

  • U.S. businesses spend $800B annually on sales force compensation
  • We then spend another $20B on sales training; 34% of that on skills training
  • 50% of that knowledge is lost 35 days following a training session.
  • 84% is lost after just 90 days.  Reason being-no reinforcement, no coaching
  • It takes the average new salesperson a minimum of 7 months to ramp up
  • It’s 18 months for tech, industrial equipment and medtech products
  • Losing a good salesperson costs $1m in expense and lost opportunity
  • 43% to 55% of sales reps miss their quota every year
  • 64% of a salesperson’s time is spent on non-selling service/admin activities

sales productivity 2019We’re holding our annual spring CEO dinner in two weeks, and when we queried that team last year at this time regarding their observations for their salespeople, their responses are outlined to the left. This year, a key theme over dinner will be what are the best 2020 practices for recruiting, hiring, onboarding and retaining.  Bottom line of this chart and everything we’ve seen in studying the science of sales especially over the past five years keeps coming back to the screaming urgent need to immediately ramp up the productivity of our sales teams.

In this highly competitive environment for solid talent, the premium on finding, training, motivating, and retaining star salespeople has never been higher, but that's only half of the requirement.  The more important half is then getting everyone on the team trained, coached and totally fluent with the....

  • the same marketing & sales processes, 
  • the same language and tools which plug into the steps in those processes, 
  • the same high fluency in the use of the technology platforms,
  • and the same culture of finding, onboarding & developing people. 

We’ve been selling on the street, on the phones and in venture board rooms for 30 years, while at the same time using our teaching skills honed at Tufts and MIT to take the old-fashioned "art of selling" kick open the door into to the implementation of "the science of sales productivity".  Now, with hundreds of successful company examples, we know what works.  

We also know the failure points leading to low productivity:

  • Failure to require and implement a disciplined sales process as “the only way”
  • Failure to build real-life sales knowledge through real-life education and executable training
  • Failure to hire correctly through detailed profiles, testing, and attribute assessments
  • Failure to deliver training that actively engages people and scores with peer-to-peer learning
  • Failure to dynamically reinforce consistent training through interactive coaching.

 If it's time for a change in how to break through low sales productivity, the time is now before the beginning of Q2, which is always the most critical quarter of the year since anything that occurs then will have significant impact in Q3 and especially in Q4.  An important opportunity to explore the sales planning tactic in great depth is to work with us and 25 other sales management leaders for an intense, hands-on day on April 9th focused to develop real-world solutions to dramatically increase your salesforce productivity by 25% this year.  Yep!  25%!


Attend our 1st Derby Sales Management Boot Camp for 2020-  April 9th 

Sales Boot Camp MITAs part of our Sales Management Consulting, we've been running two to three boot camps a year for 20 years.  Held in partnership at MIT with other leading experts focused on dramatically increasing sales productivity, enablement and readiness, this intensive one day highly-engaged camp brings together CEOs, Presidents and Sales Managers from a wide diversity of industries. 

  • We actively engage everyone in our exclusive strategy of "Process-Tools-Technology & People".
  • We dive deep into real-life tactics that you can start using immediately in Q2 with your sales team.
  • We focus on developing street-level playbooks of Activity Plans that will impact Q2 and the balance of 2020 revenue. 

Our partners and guest speakers have deep expertise learned from years of being salespeople, managers and presidents of both large corporations and mid-market companies covering a wide range of markets. 

  • We've sat in your seat! 
  • We've sold on the street and in the boardroom!
  • We've won and lost some hard-fought games, and we've been to the Super Bowl of Sales many times.

Colleen Honan The primary coaches will be George Simmons and me, and our guest speakers will include the head of sales from a well-known highly successful mid-market company plus senior sales executives from Brainshark and Hubspot, two of the most widely used sales enablement and readiness technology platforms in the business of sales productivity improvement. 

We have just yesterday confirmed that the highly experienced Colleen Honan, Chief Sales Officer from Brainshark, will be joining us as one of our guest speakers!  A dynamic, down-to-earth, true sales leader, Colleen excels in "Planning the Plan" and her winning results!

Sales Tech Tools 2020

As part of this day, we will also comfortably and quickly sort through the complexity of tech sales tools.  The graphic to the right shows just the current online sales tech tools and platforms available. 

We'll define for you the ability to make the best choices at the lowest cost that deliver the highest values both for your sales team and most importantly, for your customers. 


Click here for more details and then just connect directly with Jack next week for any questions at, and I'll set up a call with you right away to talk through the logistics 

Jack and Tufts Entrepreneurship Center -1Looking forward to seeing you on April 9th! 


Please stay connected!
Head Coach, Derby Management, experts in...
-Sales & Marketing Productivity
-Business and Strategic Planning

Professor, Tufts Entrepreneurship Center
-Entrepreneurial Marketing
-The Science of Sales


 Have a great day today and a superb weekend!

Tags: sales planning meetings, sales forecasting, Sales Hiring & Onboarding, sales management plans, sales effectivness, sales motivation, 2020 sales plans, writing sales plans, sales readiness