7 Common Sales Training Mistakes to Avoid

Brenda Savoie
Brenda Savoie
Guest Contributor

Sales associates are critical differentiators for brick-and-mortar stores, and good training that avoids seven common pitfalls will keep them both efficient and productive.

Online shopping took a significant portion of profit from physical retail in the last decade. However, brick-and-mortar stores are not backing down too much and their current sales value in the U.S. alone is almost $4 trillion. What makes retail stores so popular is their social component and unique customer experience.

Sales associates have the power to attract new consumers but also to chase them away if they don’t do the job successfully. That’s why it is not only enough to hire the best sales managers but also to provide them with regular training and keep them up to date with the latest industry developments.

There are numerous ways to conduct training but most retailers make big mistakes in the process. In this article, we will show you the seven most common sales training mistakes that you need to avoid.

How to Design a Flawless Sales Course

Almost 90% of consumers switch to competitor brands after a poor experience with a company’s sales representatives. Gary Wilcox, a retail analyst at Best Essays, gave us an explanation: “Sales managers don’t only sell goods. They need to indulge their customers and offer them exclusive shopping experiences, too. That is the real value of brick-and-mortar stores.”

In such circumstances, you need to train your staff to work flawlessly. Here are seven mistakes that you need to avoid during sales practice sessions.

Training is too complex

It’s terrible to treat your employees like second-grade kids and teach them simple things. But it’s even worse to design complex learning sessions with huge workloads. Many retailers make such a mistake and don’t realize that this kind of training is completely counterproductive.

They burden sales persons with useless acronyms and give in-depth analysis of every single aspect of the consumer journey. Although relevant on some occasions, it is usually unnecessary to teach your staff these things. Sales associates need to understand the basics of the business and gain practical knowledge – and that’s more than enough of material for your course.

Generic themes

The aim of your training is to show sales associates how to manage everyday situations and how to handle difficult customers. This requires a lot of experience and thorough understanding of retail practices, which is why you should hire a professional trainer to work with your staff.

However, many sales managers conduct generic learning courses, not knowing that it doesn’t bring any benefits to the company. If you make this mistake, you will waste money and make employees less engaged and underproductive. Our advice for you is that it is better to skip training than to organize its generic version.

Sticking strictly to the script

Retail scripts are official company guidelines which suggest sales associates how to interact with customers. Although inevitable for normal functioning of any sales department, retail scripts should not be taken so strictly during training. 

Of course, each employee must be aware of general sales instructions but it is your duty to teach them how to build stronger relationships with the buyers in real-life situations. Bear in mind that brick-and-mortar business is all about the human touch and on-site experiences.

Skipping practical lessons

Watching a great presentation is one thing but learning about peculiarities of the business through practice is completely different. Let practical lessons become a regular part of your training and allow younger sales associates to learn from more experienced colleagues at the point of sale. A lot of companies skip this step, thus eliminating the possibility to maximize training potential.

On the other hand, some sales managers put too much pressure on their associates and make them practice in difficult environments. They face sales associates with some of the most difficult customers. However, it can lead to professional burnout, so try to avoid this method as well and nurture gradual learning styles.

Neglecting the product

Focusing on theoretical understanding of sales practices and interpersonal relations, you may forget to teach your employees everything there is to know about the products. This is a serious mistake because lack of technical knowledge reveals poor preparation and amateurism.

To avoid this, you need to introduce sales associates to all details concerning your products or services. That goes both for older versions and new releases. As much as it is crucial to be polite and communicative, it is also important to educate customers and explain what makes the product so special.

Failing to refine and reorganize training

You’ve probably figured out by now that training is essential when you want to form a successful sales team. However, companies sometimes forget one thing: things change and they change quickly. For this reason, you need to organize courses and learning sessions periodically. Keep your staff updated and schedule training every once in a while – it should be enough to keep sales reps in good shape. 

Failing to measure results

The last sales training mistake on our list is hard to notice but it is actually very important – don’t forget to measure results of staff education and courses. This way you’ll learn if your investment is profitable or not. Perhaps you will find out that it is necessary to keep certain elements of training and change some others. Whatever your conclusion might be, it is necessary to conduct the analysis and understand the benefits or shortcomings of training.


Sales associates are an essence of each brick-and-mortar store and all it takes is a good training to keep them efficient and productive. But the training can go wrong in many ways, so we showed you seven common mistakes in that regard. Feel free to use our tips and let us know in comments if you have other interesting suggestions to share with our readers.

About the writer:  Brenda Savoie is a content marketer, private English tutor, life coach and desperate dreamer. Writing her first romance novel. Seeking contentment through mindfulness. Check her blog BestWritingClues, and her on Twitter and Facebook

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