The Two BIGGEST Mistakes Sales Trainers Make

This is going to be one of my SHORTEST blog articles ever! (Because these mistakes are so simple and glaring)

I’ve spent countless hours this year studying the best on-boarding practices for commission salespeople and I keep seeing the same dumb mistakes made over and over again by managers and organizational sales trainers. I have a short laundry list of all the stupid human tricks they pull off, but for the sake of this article, I’m going to focus on the TWO BIGGEST MISTAKES that seem to kill the success of new salespeople…and these mistakes are easily avoidable!


Mistake #1 – They try to jam TOO DARN MUCH general information into the minds of their new salespeople.

I coach and consult with many sales organizations in several industries. One of the most common questions they have is:

“Joe, how can we get our new salespeople up and running quickly…into production faster?”

When I begin to breakdown what they’re doing during the critical first 30-60-90 days in order to answer their question, it quickly becomes apparent that they are trying to teach their new associates EVERYTHING. They’re teaching them about the company they represent, the market, all of the products and services, the administrative or tech platforms, all of the back-end or reporting processes, etc. Sometimes these unenlightened sales trainers even get around to teaching their new salesperson about the actual process of positioning and selling their products, but they even seem to screw that up. They bungle that by exposing their new associate to the ENTIRE process—A through Z—without making certain any of it is actually sticking—and usually, not much of it is!

So, by the time their new associate is done with some level of classroom orientation and has also spent their first few weeks or so in the hands of their direct manager or field trainer, they are over-fed mentally, slightly dazed and confused…and they’re not really enjoying the experience.

It’s kind of like you and me after we visit the breakfast buffet.

We were in Vegas last weekend and we pass the $24.99 buffet. I smell the bacon, see the biscuits and gravy and then spot a carving table. I convince my wife that the endless buffet is a much better idea than the café next door where we’ll spend $19.00 for a small serving of Eggs Benedict. “Come on honey, look at all of the good stuff we can try. We can have a little bit of everything. They even have crab claws!” (Who the heck really needs crab claws and prime rib for breakfast anyway?)

But, my wife knows I have my mind made up and arguing with a trained killer salesperson isn’t going to be fruitful. So she submits to her fate and we walk in. Forty-five minutes later we both roll out of there—me rolling more than her—and I can’t name all the random stuff I tasted and can’t tell you that any one thing was really good. Most importantly…I don’t feel good. I’m over-full. My tummy hurts, it’s only 10:00 AM and I need a nap! LOL!

This is exactly what we do to a new salesperson when we try to jam a little bit of everything on the buffet table of information into their heads. They become over-full, their head hurts and they can’t tell you which one or two things really stuck with them. And, oh…they don’t feel that good. They are 30 or 60-days into the business and they’re dazed and confused.

Are you (or is your organization) doing this? Are you trying to teach your new salesperson a little bit of everything up front, which equates to TOO DARN MUCH? If so, back off of this practice. It’s information overload and it KILLS new salespeople! There are so many topics or subjects that are better taught on an as-needed basis. There is a lot of use it or lose it information that you may be wasting your time teaching. You need to figure this out and feed them what they really need, when they really need it.

Mistake #2 – They don’t place nearly ENOUGH focus on the ONE THING that’s 100% critical to a new salesperson’s success.

If general information overload is mistake #1, then lack of recognition of that one thing that’s REALLY IMPORTANT is BIG mistake #2.

And what is that one thing that’s REALLY IMPORTANT you ask.

It’s simple and straightforward…

You MUST teach them how to get the TIME and ATTENTION of their target prospects.

Plain and simple, they need to know how to set appointments with decision makers in enough volume to fill their calendar and make a living. If you don’t (or CAN’T) teach them how to do this within the first few weeks, then they are no good to you or your organization and they are not going to stick or stay.

We spend a lot of time on this and other proven concepts in my first book, The CAP Equation, A Foolproof Formula for Unlimited Success in Sales. If you aren’t familiar with this book you can click on the link below and read the first 2 chapters for free:

It is a MAJOR ERROR to crowd their head with a lot of junk versus focusing on this competency and making sure they know how to get the time and attention of prospects.

Think about it…

What good is it to teach them about the detailed intricacies of your products if they will never have a chance to present them? (Because they can’t set appointments)

What’s the benefit of advanced or even basic tech platform training if your salesperson is never going to deliver or enroll your products? (Because they don’t know how to get the time and attention of prospects)

How is it a good use of your time and theirs to study closing techniques when they are never going to get to first base? (Because they don’t know how to use the phone or canvass properly)

If you are a sales manager or sales trainer and mistake #1 or #2 sound remotely familiar, then I would challenge you to look at your on-boarding process and ask the following two questions:

  • How can I trim the volume of topics I’m trying to teach a new associate? What items are most ESSENTIAL for their survival?
  • How effective am I at teaching a new salesperson how to get the time and attention of their target prospect? What do I need to change or fine-tune to improve this process?

I know, I know…this sounds too simple, but ask the questions and inspect this. It will pay dividends! Also, I want you to take a look at something we are building for you.

To truly feel as if we are providing value to our team, it’s necessary for us to constantly deliver NEW sales training content. We generally have only two choices, we either need to create it from scratch or scrounge around to curate it and hope it’s good and credible. Both of those options take a great deal of time, and usually, don’t get done.

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If you’re a leader this is a great program for you to own so that you can begin passing on some of the methods to your team. If you are a frontline salesperson this content can be extremely valuable in helping you get sharper so that you don’t MISS any commission-generating opportunities.

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Also, if you haven’t had a chance to read or review my book, The CAP Equation, you can click on the link below. You can read the first 2 chapters for free:

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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on direct selling and sales leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his proprietary platform, The CAP Equation©. Please visit Joe at:

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2 comments on “The Two BIGGEST Mistakes Sales Trainers Make”

  1. Tim Martin

    I love the breakfast buffet analogy. I’m not a big fan of breakfast anyway, but every time I go to a Vegas buffet I end up feeling sick and not enjoying the experience! Sales trainers need to remember that they must teach their people how to set the appointment first (and foremost!)

    p.s. I do love crab claws….


      What do you like more…crab claws or prime rib?

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