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Add Stardust To Your Sales Training



How effective is your sales training today? Does your sales training prepare your salespeople to have commercial conversations with customers and prospects in today’s market? How long does it take after completing your sales training do you see trainees create new revenue? The sad reality is most sales training does not produce the results senior sales leaders want and expect. Most “sales” training is actually “product “ training from my observations. Very few sales training programs are leveraging learning science in their training program and course designs and therefore they are destined to fail and not add value. In this post we will share how to fix this common sales problem by adding a little Stardust to your training program.


Labor day weekend my wife and I went to New York City to celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. We stayed at a wonderful hotel near Broadway the Citizen M and we enjoyed the play Wicked. We visited a fun dueling piano bar as well as the fun Chelsea market.


What was most memorable was having breakfast at Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway. As we walked around New York City we determined where we would eat by the length of the lines waiting to be served. The Stardust had a line no matter what time of day you walked by.


Once seated we quickly understood this will not be a quiet breakfast. All the waiters and waitresses are graduates of theater programs from all over the world. One after another they performed famous songs from Broadway performances. The music was playing the MC was announcing the next act and at one point confetti was falling.


At one point in this entertaining breakfast the MC shared that he was going to pass a bucket around for tips. Each day the tips are divided among the performers and they had to use them to improve their skills with acting lessons, voice lessons and so on.


Each day, everyday, all day, the waiters and waitresses practice their skills while serving customers and possibly producers and agents looking for the next star.


The results of this program you might ask?


The Stardust is the 3rd busiest restaurant in North America. The waiters and waitresses consistently win roles in Broadway plays. The young lady in the photo above will be staring in the next production of Evita.


As a sales trainer most of my career, I sat there amazed at how well designed the Stardust is to recruit and train our next stars. The Stardust strategically designed skills development into their program and the waiters and waitresses also own their continuous improvement with additional courses personalized to their specific needs and future roles.

How do we add Stardust to your sales training program?


  1. Practice, Practice, Practice
  2. On the Job training and reinforcement
  3. Trainees own continuously improving their skills
  4. Trainees are doing their craft not just learning about it
  5. Producers frequent the Café and recruit the best demonstrated talent
  6. Skills are determined before the role is offered
  7. Everyone must audition, be assessed if you will to enter the program
  8. The experience is fun
  9. The experience was designed to produce stars
  10. The experience consistently produces stars


Let’s go back to the questions I asked earlier…


Is your sales training working?


Sadly 50% of salespeople receive no sales skills training whatsoever. Some receive product training. If you have a sales training program congratulations for winning senior leader support. From my observations over the last 36 years training and coaching salespeople, most sales training programs would score a 6 out of 10 in effectiveness. Most sales training programs I have observed will fail by design.


Not spaced learning over time

No peer-to-peer engagement

Instructor led lectures from subject matter experts not trainers

Little if any interaction

No on the job application exercises

No negotiations training

Little if any practice and role-playing

No human-to-human communications skills development

Little if any market training

Little if any business acumen training

Content is not designed to be stacked

No sales manager training for skills like coaching trainees once deployed


Very quickly 90% of what your trainees receive is forgotten by design.


Does your sales training prepare trainees for commercial conversations with customers and prospects?


From my observations most do not. Most sales training programs are heavily weighted in product and how to apply the product technical training. Most sales training programs do a poor job of preparing salespeople for human to human conversations in skills like qualifying opportunities, uncovering buyer goals and problems and more importantly teaching your sellers how to connect the dots to what they are selling to the financial gain it provides the customer. Most trainee’s leave training with a lack of understanding how their future customers make money and what are the key levers to pull to help their clients.


How long does it take for a trainee to start adding measurable value?


From my observations most trainees leave the drinking from the fire hose sales training experience and start adding measurable value in 18-24 months. Most trainees learn on the job practicing on customers and failing often. It should not surprise us when we see up to 50% of trainees leaving in their first 4 years. Couple this with the fact they report to sales managers who likely were never trained in skills like coaching and mentoring.


It’s time our sales training programs leveraged what training science has taught us. If you would like to learn what the future of sales training may look like feel free to download my recent EBook: 17 Training Innovations For Relentless Sales Improvement.



How do you measure the success of your sales training program?


Does your sales training program need fixed?


How long should it take for trainees to add value?


Does your sales training use spaced and stacked learning designs?


Does your organization have a continuous learning culture?


Do you offer personalized learning for your current sales team?


Does your program assess the skills motivations and beliefs of your trainees?


It’s time we leveraged what learning science is telling us and apply it to our sales training programs. Companies who do have sales training need to start seeing an ROI for sales training and much sooner.

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