How to Fix Corporate Sales Training w/ Ray Makela [Episode 442]

In this episode, we discuss the failings of corporate sales training, and why they are so disconnected from today’s buyers.

Ray Makela, Chief Customer Officer of the Sales Readiness Group, a leading B2B sales and sales management training company, joins me on this episode.


Customers are more engaged before the salesperson is involved, and more salespeople are competing for the same dollar. So, the biggest challenge facing sales professionals today, is to differentiate themselves in a meaningful way.

Ray gives advice on engagement; knowing the prospect’s business issues before contacting them; and with that understanding, offering meaningful value that helps the prospect to move forward.

You want the prospect to come away from your conversation with new insights into their business needs, and the interest to act on them. How will this differentiate you from your competition?

Ray makes two claims: first, we do not ask the right questions to know whether we are getting our ROI on sales training, and, second, we sometimes make training the end goal, rather than the means to attain a goal.

For the $2.2B that is spent annually on sales training, what should be a reasonable return? Are we satisfying the objectives for which the expenditure was planned? Are we spending enough, compared to compensation?

Know the executive stakeholders behind the sales training, and involve them in defining the problem, planning the training, and following up on the outcomes.

After the training event, where are the reinforcement and the follow up? Training is a mechanism for behavior change. What behaviors do you need to change, and how do you know they have been changed effectively?

Sales Readiness Group workshops include a commitment from each participant on what they are going to do, and awareness of how they will be tested on doing it. Managers have accountability to go out on coaching calls.

What is the reason companies cut back on training? What is the true cost of ineffective training? We need to look at how to train successfully, even if it takes more resources and time. Consider virtual classrooms and mobile learning.

The fundamentals have to be present. Athletes practice the fundamentals every day. If sales professionals have to practice in front of the customer, that’s a really expensive way to do training!

Ray talks again about stakeholders being responsible to oversee development, and to engage managers to be accountable for the success of their team. The manager needs to be the chief training officer for their team.

Devoting work time to professional development sets the tone for its importance to the company, and strengthens the culture of engagement.

The Sales Enablement Podcast with Andy Paul was formerly Accelerate! with Andy Paul.